I wanna talk about what I like to include in a well-appointed guest room. Although I don’t have one of my own, (my kids get the boot and we give their rooms to guests when we have them) I love to style pretty guest rooms, and I’ve been hosted in the loveliest of homes. Side note: Don’t listen to anything I say if you don’t, in fact, want people to want to stick around. If somebody gets on your nerves, feel free to disregard. But if you want to love people well, keep reading, and I hope I can give you a few pointers on how we created this pretty room, too.
My friend Edie has the most amazing things to say about true hospitality. Basically, take your eyes off yourself long enough to see the person standing in front of you.
I usually have a conversation with the people who live in my house, before guests arrive, that goes something like this: Your room is not your room this week. Stay out. If its a designated space, you shouldn’t have an issue with this. But in our house, I like to try and clear the surfaces and paraphernalia from the room, so that those lovely people I’m hosting can feel free to breathe while they are staying at my house.
Offer a little place for them to work if they need to. My client, Susan, wanted just that for her guests. This little desk was a cheapo Target writing desk (I know because I used to own one. I think I paid $75 for it, new). I gave the espresso finish a makeover with Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Paris Gray, along with the Pottery Barn side tables.
Here’s how you know whether or not to paint wood furniture… If its a true wood color, don’t dare use a paint brush on it, if you can help it. But, if its one of those pre-fab, fake finishes, like “espresso,” paint it up. I love wood. I love the warmth it offers, the history. I love paint, too. I don’t love fake “distressed” finishes that look like someone just “distressed” it yesterday with their sanding block in an effort to achieve the shabby chic look. It’s shabby alright. And cheap. If you’re going to distress a piece of furniture, only distress in places that would naturally get aged over time.
The chair was a side-of-the-road find that got a matching paint job and some new fabric from my favorite curtain panel, the IKEA Lenda drape. If I’ve been in your house, its likely we’ve used this fabric somewhere. Because there is no more lovely, and more cost effective way to use fabric than the IKEA Lenda Curtain Panel.
Extra stuff. You know those silly quirks you have about the 4 million pillows you love to sleep with? Your guests have those quirks, too. So don’t make them ask you for things. I like to include a big ol’ basket full of stuff to make them comfy. Pillows. Throws. Extra lotions or soaps…the good stuff.
This is the cutest little dish. Ms. Susan used to play with this when she was a kid and make the birds “drink” out of the bath. Don’t go and buy all new stuff. Use what you have and tell your own story. The homes I love most are the ones that tell me a little something about the people who live there. If you’re interesting, and you love well, they really do want to know about you. And pieces of your history are ways to tell.
A comfy place to sit. This sofa was THE sofa that Susan sat on before she courted anyone. It even had the plastic on it from back in the day. But we gave it a makeover with a plush velvet and some natural, linen-textured throw pillows. Her grandmother paid a neighbor boy a whole $5 to paint that velvet canvas. It had a gaudy gold frame on it. We could have called my friend Lara and got really spendy, to give it a new frame. Sometimes we do, but not in this room. Chalk paint and some wax did the trick in about 10 minutes, on this frame.
Layer that bed. Take some time with this. Buy the best sheets you can afford. Thrift the rest of the bed if you have to, but for heaven’s sake, buy the good sheets!! I like to add a little carafe for water, some water bottles and a book they may enjoy reading, too.
Sunlight. I’m a weirdo and I just can’t handle a space without light. I don’t want to be there. Pull those blinds up and let the light in. People can adjust the blinds as they see fit. And several sources of light, from bedside lamps, to desk lamps, will help when the sun goes down.
Smell, (or lack of it). People. I’m begging you, unplug the glade plugins. I wish I had emojis here to properly communicate how sick it makes me to smell glade…or most other artificial smells, actually. I love to provide a candle or two for a guest to use, if they want to set a mood. But IF you do that, buy a good, non-toxic candle. Spend money on good sheets and a good candle, or go unscented. Do you hear me?? Unscented. Use a diffuser with some lavender and lemon essential oils, if you insist on smells. Same goes for the laundry soap. I want to sleep in a clean bed, not a perfumed one.
This is just an example of how we took much of what Susan already had, and incorporated it into a space that feels comfortable for her guests, and pretty to look at. It didn’t come together overnight (good things never do). And it probably won’t stay just like this. But the basics will remain.
Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune to give your guests a lovely space and a memorable experience! Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.