June 28, 2015

GUEST ROOMS

THE PERFECT GUEST ROOM
COMFORTABLE, PRIVATE AND CASUAL

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Yes, all the decorating magazines have had articles on guest rooms; how to outfit them, sleeping in them yourself so you know what the room needs.. blah, blah, blah… those stories are usually written by some wanna-be twits raised on a Cul-de-Sac in New Jersey.
Forget all that...
What'll make your house a special place for your guests?
A wonderful stay at someone’s home involves many things: Relaxed hosts, pleasant activities, enjoying the regions beauty and a comfy room to retire to. However, most importantly…is being the perfect house guest!

WHAT IS BEING A GOOD GUEST, OR A GOOD HOST?
Funny you should ask…..
Here are some common sense rules to go by…


GOOD GUEST
  1. DO arrive with a nice, well-though-out gift! Perhaps a half-case of wine, a plant or something they’ll enjoy after you leave. Don't bring something that requires immediate work like cut flowers or raw steaks.
  2. DON’T invade personal spaces: Home offices, master-bedrooms, kid’s rooms, and staff quarters.
  3. DON’T request too much of a domestic worker.
  4. DO make yourself useful; clear the table, walk the dog, fluff the sofa pillows before you go to bed, etc.
  5. DO defer to your hosts choice for TV or news shows when watching together.
  6. DON’T complain about anything; baby crying, lumpy bed, neighbors dog barking.
  7. DO put your coffee mugs in the dishwasher; don’t leave them in the sink rinsed out.
  8. DO treat to at least one nice meal when out to dinner with your hosts.
  9. DON’T take your pet without asking before hand. Hosts don’t want to remember your weekend with them for the next 10 years by Fluffie’s indelible pee stains in the center of the white living room carpet.
  10. DON’T arrive at awkward times, too late or too early. Ask your hosts what is the best time to show up.. and do it as they have most likely made plans.

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(Anyone would be comfortable in either of these twin-bedded rooms)


GOOD HOST

Well, I just happen to have an answer for that too, imagine.

  1. DO provide the best accommodations that you can without being pretentious or showy.
  2. DO have a mutually understood time frame for your guests arrival and departure and be ready at the time you agreed on.
  3. DO make guests feel welcome even before they arrive.
  4. DON’T complain about other guests you’ve hosted in the past.
  5. DO give a quick, but comprehensive tour of your home so guests know where to find the laundry room, pool cabana, snack foods, bar, bicycles, alarm keypad, etc. Anticipate their needs.
  6. DO have snack foods prepared and ready for consumption in the fridge or pantry and tell them that it’s in there for them.
  7. DO ask when inviting your guests “do you have any allergies - food or otherwise, that we need to know of?” They may be allergic to cats and you have 15! Or seafood, or nuts and all your pre-planned menus involve one or the other…(cats taste nasty too!)
  8. DON’T rush your guests around to see everything in your area; let them relax and enjoy what they see. And, also don’t sit around the day they arrive trying to figure out what to do. Have a malleable plan which is geared towards their interests. Don’t take people to stand in line for hours to see the “First Ladies Gowns” exhibit when all they want to do is go to the beach…
  9. DON’T bring it up if your guests do something irritating,. Just don’t invite them again.
  10. DO STAY RELAXED the most horrible experience is to be around someone anxious or distracted. That may translate to your guests that they’ve done something wrong…then the whole weekend is amiss.
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Vivid memories of being treated well, naturally in a comfortable unpretentious manner will persevere. Houses with simple guest rooms that arent luxurious but well appointed make the most impact! The lighting, sheets, pillows, blackout shades, bathroom, towels and robes should be offered in casual style. Nothing matchy-matchy…just super clean!
Luxury, by today’s standards is all about using super name-droppy-luxury goods with the obvious branding exposed so the guests will feel like their at a rich persons house. $100 candles, beds that look like displays, twenty towels, etc, etc….. Feh!!
All that overdone shit makes guests uncomfortable, they’ll stress about using anything and messing it up.


OK, LET’S DO THIS!
LET’S START WITH THE EASIEST COMPONENT: INSTRUCTIONS!

STEP #1
Create a typed list (saved on your PC!) of pertinent information for your guests:
Your mobile phone number(s), the house phone number, your exact address, the house fax number, instructions for the alarm (text them the code for security), how to use the TV or radio, gated community info, the maids name, where to park, where the pool towels are, where the laundry room is, where the bicycles and kayaks are, neighbors names, not to freak out if they see a one-armed man pulling weeds, etc.
This list accomplishes two things: 1.) It gives the guests better bearings and it makes them feel more comfortable and connected as you have shared all your “inside info” with them. 2.) It helps in an emergency if you're not around.

If your guests will be going out and about without you, make a separate list they can take with them showing shopping areas, museums and current exhibits, nice parks, and your favorite local restaurants with maps to and from. Make this list attractive and well thought-out as your guests may take it with them when they leave to remind them of their lovely visit with you and all they've done whilst visiting.
Place all the literature, suggestions, lists and items of interest in a small, open box or basket that’s kept in the guest room. This economizes on your time by anticipating their needs so you won't have to re-gather everything when the next guests arrive. Make a special ring of keys for guests that you will immediately recognize as the guest keys.

STEP #2
Outfitting the room

FOR A DEDICATED GUEST ROOM

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(These swanky VIP guest rooms are all so inviting)


MUST HAVES:
  • 1. A comfortable, firm mattress is a must. It’s just not cool to assume they’ll be fine on that old worn out mattress that you used for 25 years...which says “we don’t give a rats ass about your comfort.”
NOTE: A good idea if you only have one guest room is to have a pair of twin beds as you can put unrelated people in the same room. They can be pushed together as a king (dual), but should be made up separately.
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  • 2. A soft, good quality, cotton, quilted mattress pad. (Many people are allergic to down)
  • 3. Nice linens, they don’t have to be Frette, but good quality 400 count, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets. 
  • 4. GOOD pillows!!! Each guest should have three pillows:
  • a) 1 medium-density
  • b) 1 slightly firm-density fiber-filled pillow (allergies!)
  • c) 1 boudoir pillow for propping up the head, or between their knees (for side sleepers)
  • 5. One thin cotton blanket
  • 6. One thick blanket (Merino wool, cashmere, camel hair or silk)
  • 7. A medium weight down-filled duvet with a cotton washable cover in winter.
  • 8. A wool or cashmere throw; one person may like it warmer than the other person whilst sleeping. It can also be used for curling up in the chair with a book.
  • 9. Reasonably normal temperatures in the room; A/C @ 72-77 Heat @ 68-76
  • 10. Clear dresser or table tops for guests to spread out their own things, nothing worse then seeing an huge display of crap and nowhere to put your own things...
  • 11. Tissue box in bedroom
  • 12. Bottled flat/still water (or a carafe with cool water) and two glasses on a small tray with napkins
  • 13. Two bedside lamps suitable to read by, switched independently with 3-way bulbs (25-50-100)
  • 14. Comfortable reading chair(s) & ottoman with a soft throw pillow.
  • 15. An adjustable lamp next to the reading chair with a 3-way bulb (50-100-150)
  • 16. Luggage rack(s)
  • 17. Full length mirror (in bath, closet or bedroom)
  • 18. Closet options for long and short hanging clothing,
  • 19. Various types of hangers and a lint brush
  • 20. Two terry cloth robes in the closets with two pair washable slippers
  • 21. A waste basket
  • 22. TV, yes a TV is a must now days. A person may want to be alone for a while, or prefers to watch TV when they go to bed, or wake up. Make sure the remote’s batteries are new.
  • 23. An iPod dock/charger with clock is a good idea.
  • 24. WIFI capability with the router pass-code on your guest info sheet.
  • 25. A small writing table for laptop use, replete with pencils, pens and note pads which could be a double-duty bedside table as shown below.
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  • 26. Accessible receptacles for recharging electronics. Guests don’t want to move furniture to plug in.
  • 27. Windows that open with screens; many people love the windows open at night.
  • 28. A small portable fan if the AC is not in use.
  • 29. Black-out curtains or blinds and a switchable night light
  • 30. A privacy lock on the door


FOR ‘DOUBLE-DUTY’ GUEST ROOMS

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(this sleep sofa above has its linens and pillows hidden in the ottoman with casters on the bottom to make it easy to roll out of the way)

  • Items # 1. through 10. from above
  • 11. If it’s a sleep-sofa, remove all the decorative pillows from the room so your guest. doesn't have to find a place to put them. Pull the bed out and make it up as if it was a regular bed, ready to get into.
  • 12. If the room is a private room, a library or home office perhaps remove as much stuff as possible for your privacy and places for them to put their things.
  • 13. Clear the tables next to the bed, or sofa-bed and provide a place to set up their luggage and a toiletry kit.
  • 14. Windows coverings with blackout ability.
  • 15. Remove some items from the closet; have various types of hangers so they may hang a few things up.
  • 16. If this room isn't that large or super comfortable make sure you have a small nook or private area elsewhere in the house for your guests to relax in and get away from you(!)
  • 17. A small vase with fresh flowers.
  • 18. If there’s space an iPod dock/clock.
  • 19. A switchable nightlight.
  • 20. A basket with the items # 9 through 14 from below.

STEP #3

TRICKING OUT THE GUEST BATH:
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(keep the sink top clear except for a tray of guest toiletries)

PRIVATE BATH:

  • 1. Two bath towels, two hand towels and two washcloths per person, NO bath sheets, they’re too big to hang up and they don’t dry quickly. Include a black washcloth for a lady to remove her makeup with.
  • 2. A ‘lightly scented’ room spray/deodorizer.
  • 3. Extra good-quality toilet paper in an obvious place, within reach of the toilet.
  • 4. A toilet brush in an attractive holder (or under the sink) and a plunger under the sink.
  • 5. A rug in front of the sink and toilet.
  • 6. A non-slip tub mat (if needed).
  • 7. A bath mat.
  • 8. Exposed receptacle.
  • 9. New soaps…NO used soaps, ever.
  • 10. Good quality, (full) shampoo and conditioner, small tester bottles are fine.
  • 11. Hairdryer.
  • 12. Tester sizes of: deodorant, mouthwash, disp. razors, toothpaste and floss, few tampons and panty-liners.
  • 13. Two new tooth brushes (in their packaging)
  • 14. A waste basket.
  • 15. A small LIGHTLY scented candle, with a pack of matches.
  • 16. Deck space for two toiletry bags.
  • 17. Small vase with fresh flowers.

SHARED BATH

  • 1. through 11. from above
  • 12. Remove as much personal stuff that you can, practically.
  • 13. Waste basket.
  • 14. Either a towel rack in the bathroom for the guests towels only, or a rack in the bedroom for their towels.
  • 15. Night light, lit.

STEP #4
THE NICE LITTLE EXTRA TOUCHES

- Provide a plate or basket with an assortment of: Apples, bananas, candy bar(s), mints, nuts, a pack of cheese crackers. Also a knife to cut the apple and a few cocktail napkins. It keeps them from wandering through your house starving at 3:00 AM, looking for snacks.

- 3 or 4 of the latest magazines; Vogue, el Décor, Time, or People, a national newspaper and a local paper with ‘goings on’ in your area. A few old Decorating magazines are always good somewhere in the room too.

- Fresh flowers! Not a huge funereal arrangement but something nice, fresh and colorful. It needs to be movable as many people (yours truly) have allergies to cut flowers.

- A book or two that maybe you've read, or think your guests might enjoy. Let them have it, don’t hock them about returning it.

- A photo of you and that guest from another time. It can be in one of those wire clips or take a framed one from another room and place it in their room for the weekend.

- A small rug next to the bed if you have bare wood floors.

- Space for a guest’s doggy bed

- If you have space in the room or in a walk-in closet put a baby fridge in it outfitted with water, soda’s, cold coffee beverages, single-serving-size applesauce or fruit-cups.

- I think a guest room (and most bedrooms) should have wall-to-wall carpeting for acoustic purposes.

- A simpler décor is best, neutrals, etc. It is always interpreted as restful.

- Soft or dimmed lighting in the hallways, left on at night.

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(These lovely, large guest rooms above have a work table in the room which is a great touch)
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These rooms above were all done on tight budgets from lower-price retailers


Mark Twain once said house guests are like fish- they are only good for three days.



A PERSONAL GUESTROOM MEMOIR
As a kid I often stayed over at my maternal grandparents house; a charming hodge-podge of collections from a life well-lived, arranged modestly with good taste and charm. Their guest room, which I loved, was the coziest place on earth to me! Its walls were covered in large lilac-patterned wallpaper; the trim and mouldings were painted dusty rose. There was a bed so high you needed a special stool to get in and out. Clipped over the top of the headboard was this wonderful light for reading with a silk and lace shade. The sumptuous bed pillows were various sizes and plentiful; the fancy sheets were always fresh and deliciously slick with starch. The blanket and cover choices were always appropriate for the season. Mostly cotton & wool blankets, or quilted silk comforters. It had a huge Empire chest-of-drawers and on top was my great grandmothers Limoges “suite d’toilet,” on a beautifully embroidered dresser scarf. Adjacent was a dressing mirror the size of a barn door. On the floor lain a threadbare Persian carpet; the window had lace curtains installed behind old gilded valances and a blackout “roller-shade” with a silky pull-cord. There were several glass lamps with lace appliquéd silk shades and a small arm-chair upholstered in pink silk moire - staged with needlepoint pillows and a frizzy, off-white mohair throw. That room also had a big walk-in closet which was filled with every amenity one could conjure for comfort, e.g.: luggage racks, more pillows, padded hangers with big satin bows, and even more comforters.

However, my very best memories are olfactory, not visual or fiscal – they are the congeries of scents; barely noticeable aromas produced by open bowls of my Great Aunts home-made pot-pourri, made with the rose petals from her Palm Beach rose garden.
Just outside in the upstairs hall was a fabulous antique Moroccan light fixture with multi-colored glass jewels - through which the dim light projected its colors all over the upstairs hall all night... THAT was magical!
The huge old-fashioned bead-board bathroom walls were painted white. A large enameled cast-iron pedestal sink was surmounted by an antique mahogany mirror, which was flanked by glass sconces with those ubiquitous lace and silk shades. The footed tub had no overhead shower - only a rubbery hand-held one. There was blue wall-to-wall carpeting (it was the 70’s after all) and a wonderful chaise-longue, slip-covered in white polished chintz with an African violet pattern. In one corner stood a coat tree hung with lots of old-fashioned straw hats and white terrycloth robes. The light scent of lavender from soaps and bowls of purple lavender blossoms drifted from the linen closet which was ‘staged’ with toiletries, towels, odd sized silver-lidded bottles, seashells, etc. The closet door was always purposely half-open.

My waxing poetic about overnights at grandmothers is exactly the point of this missive….send them away with a memory, not an impression....


You can do it, I'm here to help







2 comments:

Meredith said...

Excellent - I have read hundreds of these guest-room articles and this one really keeps it fresh, and modern (yes, they will need outlets for their phones and computers!)Thanks, Joe.

Debbie said...

This was a wonderful article. I don't have many house guests and I'm usually fairly thoughtful, but there were things I never thought about!

CHINTZ

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND Brace yourselves, don't fall out of your Barcelona chairs onto your Moroccan-shag-carpets, but I ...