Guest Rooms 101: Creating a Space to Stay

So here we are with just a few days left until the holidays are really here, and you’re scrambling to get the home office or kid’s room finally in decent shape for those out-of-town friends or family members who’ll be staying with you for Christmas. While this is not necessarily the vision I had for my first blog, it’s top of mind for me this season, as my birth mother, Shirley Burek, is coming from California to visit us here in Midlothian, Virginia for a full week – and I honestly can’t wait!!

With all the other preparations, shopping, baking, school programs, etc. you need to do for the holidays, it’s no wonder the guest room is given low priority. Despite how you feel about your in-laws or other relatives who will be staying with you this year, let’s face it – they are a part of your lives, potentially shaped your spouse into the person you love and plan to grow old with, and will ultimately judge you on how comfortable you make their stay. So why not take some time and make their room a bit more comfortable this year?

Let me give you a few tips.

  1. Declutter. If you’re lucky enough to have a guest room, in my experience, it’s usually the furniture version of the Island of Misfit Toys. And typically, there’s just TOO MUCH STUFF crammed in one room. Make some usable space for your guests to place their bags – benches or folding luggage racks are a great option that don’t take up much space. And don’t forget about giving your guests some closet space for hanging garments. If using a kid’s room, nobody loves being stuck where Beanie Babies, Polly Pockets, or LEGOs have seemingly multiplied to the extent that they need their own zip code. These toys and other personal items can easily be stashed away in a hall closet or garage. Invest in a couple of big Sterilite or Rubbermaid storage bins to easily store these toys temporarily out of sight. Get the kids involved, and if they’re old enough, maybe encourage them to donate some of these things to a charity instead of continuing to display or keep them. Maybe promote this as a way to clear out space for all the exciting new things they’ll be getting when Santa makes his way down the chimney.

  2. Upscale. Yes, it’s only a couple times a year for a few days, and we know your guests love your kids, but do you really think they also truly love that threadbare Hello Kitty sheet set? And more importantly would you want to sleep on that? Moreover, the comforter you had in college that has so many memories has gone through just as many washings to render it just…well, sad. Upscaling your bedding does not necessitate a big investment in new sheets or a comforter set, but check out Costco, Stein Mart, and TJ Maxx. For $50 or less, you can get sheets at Costco that are fantastic. The other retailers I mentioned routinely have comforter or duvet sets that are affordable, in-style, and much more comfortable for your guests. This also goes for pillows on the bed and towels in the guest bathroom. Costco again, is an excellent source of pillows as well as towels in all colors. I’ve used towels from Costco in our home for many years, and they have held up beautifully through hundreds of washings.

  3. Experience. Another thing you should do (as weird as this may seem), is take a shower in your guest bathroom. If you have small kids, you probably don’t even know if the shower works well or what the water pressure is like since they've been taking baths for most of their lives. Also look around the bathroom with an outsider’s eyes (or ask a friend...or I can help!) and see what items should be stashed away for when your guests are in your home. Doing this well in advance of your guests’ arrival will give you time to correct any issues you may have with your bathroom. It may serve you well to also sleep in your guest bed for a night. You may be surprised at how uncomfortable it is. Pillow-top and memory foam toppers are an easy and affordable way to disguise an otherwise uncomfortable mattress.

  4. Surprise & delight. My dear friend Christina always has a basket of “goodies” in the guest room for us when we visit their beautiful farm in Hollywood, SC (right outside of Charleston). I’m not sure who started this little tradition (her or me – we’ve been doing it for years), but these baskets usually include some chocolates, bottled waters, a candle, a bottle of wine (which we usually end up sharing!), some recent and local magazines, and some other little sweet surprises like gum or soap. Usually it’s those little touches that make out-of-town visits just that much more memorable. Remember: your mother-in-law is always judging. Always.

  5. Pamper. This tenet ultimately pulls it all together. Think of the nicest hotel you’ve stayed at and try to re-create that feeling in your guest room – at least a little bit. Yes, you’re disrupting your kids or home office or storage space for a few days, but during the holidays we all know nothing is normal. And you don’t have to go way over the top. Think about all the guest rooms you’ve stayed in and all the discomforts you’ve experienced. Reverse those in your home, and make your guest room a place you would actually like to stay also.

Good luck! And more importantly, I wish you the happiest of holidays. If you need some help getting your guest room in shape for the holidays this year, I’d love to help! Feel free to contact me at or 757-618-9745.

design on.


#holidays #interiordesign #family #friends #guestroom

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