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One of the most overlooked places in the house is the guest room. It tends to be that room that gets dusty, collects all the little things that don’t fit anywhere else and winds up smelling a little stale. A room like that makes even your most cherished guests feel like they are “just visiting” and not truly welcomed into your home.

But a few careful changes can make your guest room such a beautiful place that your guests will fall in love with it, and you will want to spend more time in there, too. Here’s how to make it work.

guest room pillows small framed pictures

Think like a hotel manager

When you go to a hotel, what do you enjoy most? Is it the big bed with the opulent bedding? How about the lighting, that seems to be at just the right places? Or maybe it’s the way the room gets completely dark when you pull the blackout curtains. Maybe it’s the little amenities in the bathroom or even the simple additions of a clock radio and coffee maker.

Think about what you enjoy most and then duplicate that. Top your old mattress with a brand-new memory foam topper. Choose bedding that is thick and comfortable. Leave plenty of space for your guests, such as a few drawers that are entirely empty and a generous bedside table for books, eyeglasses and more.

guest room towels bed

If there is a separate bathroom just for your guests, fill it with the kind of amenities you would want; if they will be sharing a family bathroom, create a small basket filled with their own amenities on the bedside table. Those special touches make all the difference.

Think like a homebody

Now that you have put yourself in the mindset of a hotel manager, switch gears and picture things closer to home. What are the things you can’t live without? What would make your hotel room more inviting, simply because it reminds you of home? Give your guests those things.

If the guest room has a bookcase, fill it with a variety of books — switch them out from time to time so your guests won’t see the same old thing if they come to visit again. Include a book light so guests can read at night while their significant other sleeps next to them.

Bookcase

 

Offer several different blankets or quilts so they can choose the one that feels best. A pen and paper makes a great way to journal their visit. Snacks and water are always a welcome addition, so they won’t have to come down to the kitchen to get what they want in the middle of the night. And remember that some people need white noise to sleep, so tuck a fan into a corner or offer a radio that they can tune to any channel they want.

Don’t forget the things that matter most — like that full-length mirror that they can use every morning, the laundry basket tucked away in the bottom of the closet, and the chair that gives them a place to sit other than the bed. If you have enough room, consider twin beds instead of a big one (to better accommodate various family members) and even a couch or futon, providing more room for rest.

Double-duty can still be personal

If you have a guest room that must do double-duty, you can make it happen by choosing options your guests can use as well. If you must use the guest room as an office when you aren’t entertaining friends, choose a desk with locking drawers. This means you can put away the things you want to keep private and leave the desktop available for guests who want to use the space. If you must use dresser drawers for storage, use only the bottom ones, leaving at least two available.

yellow-dresser-country-home

Photo: Aliciabdesigns.blogspot.com

Finally, if you are using a child’s room as the guest room, relegate your kid to the couch the night before the guests arrive so you can spruce things up a bit. Clean out one or two drawers, clean off the bedside table and store those things neatly in a bin under the bed for now. Change the bedding to reflect something more mature. You can even put up a screen to mask an area that your child wants to keep private. Finally, ask your child to move some of their clothing to your closet, so your guests won’t be disturbed in the morning hours.

By the time you’re done with creating the ultimate guest room, you will have one big problem: your guests will never want to leave!

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.