Holiday Hospitality

Ensure your guest rooms are cheery and bright

With the holiday season upon us, many homeowners will be hosting family members and friends over the next several weeks of joy and merriment. While it’s true that having guests in the home can be one of the more stressful parts of the holiday season, with a little foresight, simple additions to the home, and a bit of pre-planning, hosts can ensure it remains the most wonderful time of the year.

The holiday hospitality basics

Bellwether Interior Design

Whether your home will host older relatives and friends, single adults, or families with children, a guest room should have a few basics to best provide comfort for your visitors, explains Kim Schmidlkofer, owner of Green Porch, LLC in Kaukauna. Start by providing a clutter-free space.

“You want them to feel like they’re not impeding on your personal space,” she says. “Have extra pillows and blankets of course, whether it’s a throw or comforter – both would be great. You always want a night light or lamp, possibly both. And then, of course, an alarm clock in the room and tissues.”

A luggage rack or defined area for your guests to set their bags and luggage is also a necessity, she adds. 

“If not a luggage rack, have empty drawers or closet space that you can provide for a short time while they’re staying.”

Leslie Wilson, owner of Bellwether Interior Design in Neenah, says it’s also important the guest room doesn’t get the hodgepodge of bedding leftovers we all seem to have floating around in our homes. 

“I think it’s nice to have really nice bedding – things that you would put on your own bed,” she says. “Don’t skimp on that. It creates that hotel atmosphere. [Have] a coverlet and then maybe fold down a duvet, because everyone’s sleeping needs are different. That way, you’re creating that versatility already.”

Wilson says window treatments and lighting choices are also crucial to the comfort of the guest bedroom. Treatments can soften the space, as well as allow the guests to control the amount of light in the room. In addition to bedside tables and lamps, wall-hung lamps can also be used.

“I think it’s nice to have that secondary lighting source, so they don’t feel like they just have to have that overhead lighting on,” she states. “And then that way, they can kind of wind down, read, or be on their phone or technology if they have to work. They can do that in bed at the end of the night and feel like they have the opportunity to do that.”

Meeting more specific needs 

Bellwether Interior Design

Once you have the basics down, it’s time to focus on tailoring the room to the individual needs of your guests. Lori Jansen, owner of Design House Interiors in Appleton, says she always thinks about who’s going to be using the space and gears it around that particular person or people.

“I actually have a client right now where there are grandchildren who will come and spend the weekend and they’re younger,” she explains. “In the guest bedroom that they have, we actually have two twin beds set up and then we have a dresser for clothing. And we also made it a little more kid friendly. There is a basket with some ‘stuffies’ and there’s a bookshelf with just a few toys tucked away on it.”

Both the basket and the toys are easily put away when the kids aren’t present, she furthers. Special touches like that make the room easily convertible for older guests, or in cases where the room has a dual purpose, like office space. 

Special adaptations may also be necessary for the actual layout of the room, depending on who is staying, Schmidlkofer says.

“A lot of kids have different needs, whether they need a small cot or crib, or maybe they’re bringing their own pack-and-play,” she says. “If it’s someone older, they might have a wheelchair or a walker that they need to set in the room or have stability with when they’re getting in and out of bed. So, rearranging the room, or making the space you need for something like that, is really important.”

Other touches that can take a room above and beyond expectations include a basket of extra toiletries, fresh flowers, bottled water, charging stations, framed Wi-Fi passwords and loanable reading material, explains Wilson.

“When I have people come into my home, I like to have all their towels and extra toiletries on the bed,” she furthers. “It’s always nice to have things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and extra toiletries, in case they forget things. Then they don’t feel like an inconvenience.”

Converting non-bedroom spaces for guests

Green Porch LLC

Not all of us have designated guest rooms, so in those cases, a little movement of furniture can help make whatever space you’re using feel cozier and inviting. If you’re using an inflatable mattress or other type of temporary bed, be sure there is some sort of night stand or small table for the guests nearby, says Schmidlkofer, and make sure the space is clutter-free.

“You may need to rearrange the room a little bit so they’re facing a different direction, and make sure you have proper window treatments for privacy or darkness,” she says. “Not everyone has the ability for a folding screen, so rearranging the furniture a little bit or turning the couch the opposite way and creating a little nook area makes a big difference for someone staying there.” 

Fully finished or even partially finished basements can also work as guest spaces, says Jansen, and they may actually provide for even more comfort during the holidays when visits tend to be longer. Having a separate level that your guests can call their own for a few days can go miles to ensuring everyone still feels the holiday cheer during their stay.

“So many people are finishing off that lower level,” she explains. “I definitely think when you’re having guests stay, if they have that whole lower level to themselves, whether there is just a family room down there, or you have a bedroom and a family room, I definitely think that it feels like a little bit more like a private space because it’s on a different level.”

When in doubt, be your own guest

Green Porch LLC

If finding places for your visitors to stay is causing you extra stress this holiday season, keep it simple and manageable for the time you have available. Think about what you’d want to see for personal touches if you were the guest in someone’s home and go from there.

“Whether you’re doing a guest room or any room for the holidays, you want to think about walking into someone else’s space or even an area to gather. You want to feel comfortable,” says Schmidlkofer.

Just making an effort toward your guests’ holiday comfort will help everyone feel the cheer, she adds. 

“If the host feels like they’re accommodating their guests, then everyone just seems to be happy, so that goes hand in hand.”

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