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5 Steps to Make the Spare Room Guest-Ready

Bed in Lisa Przystup's Remodeled Catskills Attic, Photo by Sarah Elliott

We’re turning our attention to the room that often gets overlooked day-to-day: the guest bed and bath. Chances are, yours has become a temporary storage facility for spare furniture, wrapping supplies, an old stationary bike, or the litter box. But it’s not too late to make yours a fine and comfortable place for your guests to spend a night or a week (let’s hope not more); just follow these tips from Tricia Rose, the linen bedding maven of Rough Linen. Here’s what to do.

1. Clear out the guest bedroom.

Don’t feel overwhelmed if your spare room is cluttered. “Guest bedrooms can feel unloved if they are seldom used and have a special genius for accumulating stray articles—exercise equipment, boxes, and such,” Tricia says. “The first thing you need to do to make it welcoming and comfortable is clear those things away or, at the very least, conceal them. A bedskirt can conceal under-the-bed storage, so that’s a start.” For a room that needs to serve as both storage and guest quarters, a bed with under-bed drawers is a good long-term solution.

Bed in Lisa Przystup's Remodeled Catskills Attic, Photo by Sarah Elliott
Above: A clutter-free guest room makes the guest feel considered and at home, rather than an afterthought. Photograph by Sarah Elliott, from Before & After: An Airy Summer Bedroom in a Catskills Farmhouse, Transformed with Paint.

2. Make up a comfortable bed (equipped for lounging).

“Make the bed up with fresh linens, and check that the mattress, duvet, and pillows are up to scratch and well-aired,” Tricia says—with none of the mildew or mustiness of an unused room. “Provide bolsters to fill the gap between headboard and mattress so that reading in bed is a pleasure, with good over-the-shoulder lights. I prefer wall-mounted as they are out of the way.”

Gordana Golubovic LA Home Bedroom, Photo by Lauren Moore
Above: Bolsters provide support for reading in bed. Photograph by Lauren Moore, from At Home with an LA Costume Designer, Summer Remodel Edition.

3. Add layers.

Be prepared for guests’ needs, so they won’t need to ask. “Some guests need a little extra warmth at night, and a throw or one of our Day Blankets over the end of the bed can add a little extra coziness,” Tricia says. “Your guest can throw it ’round their shoulders while they read the riveting selection of books you’ve set out, just for them.”

A well-dressed bed, courtesy of Rough Linen; the Orkney Duvet Cover, in dusk, starts at $285.
Above: A well-dressed bed, courtesy of Rough Linen; the Orkney Duvet Cover, in dusk, starts at $285.

4. Strike a balance on the nightstand.

Set out water, a fresh glass, and some reading material for the guest. But restrain yourself: “Traditionally the bedside table holds a carafe and glass for water and a tin of cookies,” Tricia says (a tradition we quite like the sounds of). “But who wants to fall asleep with crumbs in their teeth? Isn’t it better if your guests come cheerfully into the kitchen when they are starving? Who knows, maybe they will whip up something delicious! Better to let them know their way around the kitchen, as sous-chef or assistant snack maker,” she advises.

Bedside Table by Rough Linen, Photo by Marcella Dilonardo
Above: Essentials at the bedside. Photograph by Marcella Dilonardo.

5. Don’t overlook the bath.

Whether your guests have an en suite all to themselves or are sharing one down the hall, stock it as a hotelier might. “A basket of rolled washcloths in the bathroom is a delicious luxury, along with fresh soap and the basics. It doesn’t have to be stocked like a pharmacy,” Tricia says; a small selection of good soaps and lotions is sufficient. Add linen towels (“they always feel fresh and dry quickly; nothing better,” Tricia says) and a Rough Bath Mat. Particularly for guests who are sharing a bath, a robe is a thoughtful touch. “I like to leave fresh towels in both the bathroom and bedroom, just to be sure they are there when needed,” Tricia says—and to spare guests any mad dashes down the hallway.

Hotel Wanas in Skåne, Sweden
Above: Take a page from Wanås Hotel in Sweden—a well-stocked bath adds a bit of luxury for overnight guests. Photograph by Magnus Mårdinger, courtesy of Wanås Hotel, from An Architect’s Estate, Open for Business: Wanås Hotel in Skåne, Sweden.

6. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes.

Lastly, “Remember the old, old advice to sleep in your own guest room to truly know how it feels,” Tricia says. “You might like it more than you think!”

More advice for the bedroom:

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published on Remodelista on December 15, 2017.

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