The “Gracious Guest Room” List

Pretty, But It Needs Color

Pretty, But It Needs Color

Mirriam-Webster says that one of the definitions of “Gracious” is ” characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding.”  I can’t suddenly acquire wealth or good breeding for the sake of my guests– that would be swell, wouldn’t it?– but I think the point they are trying to make at the Mirri-Web Def. Co (that’s what their rapper friends call them) has more to do with the effortless grace and poise with which the wealthier set manage to entertain….  We *can* aspire to that, can’t we?  To give your guests the experience of a posh– in my case, tiny, but posh– hotel room with the best free continental breakfast you can imagine?  To be remembered as a fun host with an extremely comfortable bed?  If my loved ones are choosing to spend their vacation time with me  rather than a tropical island somewhere, I want to be sure they don’t regret that choice.  I hope that they will want to come back and stay with us again, in fact.

All of this has me thinking about how I can make our tiny little guest room a more inviting and enjoyable place to stay.  Optimally I would like for it to be the kind of space that our company would actually like to spend time in, rather it just being some nook to crash, and I wonder how to do that and please a broad range of guests.  Some things, like the extraordinarily tall bed, I can do nothing about, but I *can* anticipate how many of my family members travel with their pets, and try to accommodate an older animal that wouldn’t be able to get up there with a comfy, on-the-floor, pet bed.

If You Stay Here, A Cat Will Sleep On You.

If You Stay Here, A Cat Will Sleep On You.

So, I started writing a list.  I did some initial googling, trying to find an existing list (I’m sure they are out there, I am sorry if yours was detailed and complete and still overlooked by me), but I was disappointed in what I found.  Clean sheets and a good reading light are not revolutionary information, I’m looking for bigger and better advice here….

When I didn’t find it, I sat down with my husband, and we brainstormed for a little while.  I don’t know if this is a man-thing or just something about the men I’ve gravitated to over the years, but my husband LOVES to brainstorm.  It’s like– a talent or something.  I think that  between the two of us, we came up with a pretty detailed list!  I’m not saying its perfect or 100% complete, but I think its a great start in what I’m looking for to finish off this space.

Keep in mind as you are reading this, to try and acclimate my suggestions to your level of possibility.  If you don’t have a devoted guest room, or your hide-a-bed shares your office, you could modify this a bit and have a prepared hamper or picnic basket to pull out when a visitor is on their way.  If you have the means for a whole guest house, please don’t limit yourself to a bottle of water on the nightstand when you can accommodate an entire kitchenette.  I’m going for ‘average’ here, you adjust to ‘realistic’ for yourself!

Since my guest room does not have an attached bath, I intend to find fluffy towels and washcloths in my room’s colors to be strictly for guest use.  My thought on this is that they will not get faded, holey, or start smelling like dog as rapidly as the other towels in regular household use, and so they will be kept out of circulation and in guest room.  Because I obviously cannot create an attached bathroom where there is none, this is my way of ‘bumping up’ the experience for the guest a little bit… maybe this way they won’t feel like they have to fend for themselves, digging around in my son’s bathroom.

I am also intent in finishing this room in a really budget-friendly manner, so by no means should there be any expectation that you are just going to run out an buy everything on this list.  Work creatively with what you have, embellishing and personalizing items when you can, matching them carefully if continuity is important to you.  My thought is that if I tie everything together with theme (Petit L’Hotel Francais) and color scheme (apricot, pistachio green, and chocolate) it won’t feel like its my household leftovers.  And to my mind, it won’t really be a roomful of leftovers anymore, because I will have worked on it and customized it enough that it will feel like a new space.  It will be its own thing, my guest room.

In the interest of sharing (that is what this whole blogging thing is about, no?), here is our brainstormed list.  There will be a follow-up post very soon discussing my solutions for the items on the list for our very own guest room.

Gracious Guest Room List:

  • a comfortable bed (or air mattress, or hide-a-bed, or futon)
  • two sets of high thread count cotton sheets.  If you purchase these new, you should wash them a few times and try and at least crack ’em a little bit.  Also, if you reside in a geographic area where the nights can be super cold, you can opt to have one set of the sheets in flannel or that fabulous t-shirt cotton.  I’m going to try and score my ‘warm’ set in the next month or two, checking post-holiday sales and end of season closeouts in order to get a better deal on something in my color scheme.  Peach is a sort of oddball color right now, so I’m not sure how I’ll fare in that department.
  • a variety of blankets in different weights and materials.  It gets very cold here in the winter, and I love a lot of air conditioning in the Summer, so having some choices is good in this household.
  • two coverlets or bedspreads, one lighter weight and brighter colored for Spring/ Summer and another that is heavier and darker for Winter.  This is not a necessity, and you certainly don’t need to bother with two if you don’t have a dedicated guest bed.  You could also have a duvet option (which could change the color and add weight for the winter), or even just a comforter that is flippable.   I do this alternation for the beds in our other rooms, it just helps keep the decor fun and fresh.
  • bedside table(s)
  • bedside reading light or lamp.  If you have limited space, you can mount a wall sconce behind the bed, or as I did at our last home, hang a swag-style lamp overhead.  Pole floor lamps also take up limited room, and may be more functional in a room that is also a home office.
  • nightlight(s)  I’m thinking one in the guest room itself, as well as one in the hallway or nearby bath.  Ones with switches are really good, some of our guests like things really dark, and this allows for the option of easy cut-off without removing them from the socket.
  • mirrors, one full length or bigger-picture, and one small makeup or hand mirror.  That way they don’t have to come out of their room until they feel pretty, if they don’t want to.
  • sliding blackout curtains, roller shade, or adjustable blinds for light control.  Again, different people have different lighting needs when it comes to sleep.  You may also want to add a layer of sheers for privacy, if it seems likely the window treatments will be opened and your room is in a high-view area from outside.
  • variety of pillows for sleeping, from the foamie block types my husband likes, to the big fluffy, downy ones I prefer.  I’m aiming for two per sleep space, which would be four on the guest bed.  I’m also considering acquiring a body pillow, which when the bed is made, will run along the front of the headboard, behind the other stacked pillows.  It’ll help the bed’s presentation be really full and luxe looking, and for guests that are sleeping alone, be an added bedtime bonus.
  • heated mattress pad or feather mattress topper.  These add pure luxuriousness.  The guest bed at my parent’s house has the big, fluffy feather mattress on it, and we all fight for it.  Its like sleeping on a cloud.  I am pricing and pondering the pads right now, we have the heated pad for our master, and I think the feather one would be easier to explain to company!
  • throw pillows.  You gotta have throw pillows!   And if you have an armchair, maybe pillows for it too.
  • chair.  You could choose an armchair, an old rocker from a nursery upgrade, or even a small painted wooden chair could be lovely.  This is not only a space to sit down and put on your shoes and socks, but also provides a spot for the bed’s excess pillows, draping clothing, etc.
  • carpet, rug, or mat at each bedside.  Hard to get out of a warm bed and hit a cold floor, especially if you are not used to it, or on vacation.  Since you can’t have slippers on-hand in every size, you can avoid that problem with a bit of fuzzy flokati or something.
  • closet, armoire or at the very least a peg rack and hangers for hanging a few items of clothing.
  • chest of drawers space for unpacked clothing, OR some sort of rack or bench for allowing your guest to ‘serve’ themselves from their bags.
  • flashlight with batteries.  Now I know that this may seem pointless what with the aforementioned nightlights, but have you ever been staying with someone, and say, you needed to retrieve, oh, your cell phone from your coat pocket in the foyer and you didn’t want to fiddle with every single light switch along the way?  Add being braless and in a flimsy cotton gown, and you REALLY don’t want to call attention to yourself in a quiet house.  A flashlight is good.  You can chuck it into the basket with the other amenities.
  • box of tissues, or stack of pressed hankies.  I very often have to blow my nose in the night, Tennessee is known for its pollen and whatnots.  Plus we have five pets.  It’s possible a sneeze could strike anyone.
  • assortment of guest towels and washcloths.  Think of how many you typically have staying with you at one time.  Don’t make the three guys who crash in your floor on the way to Bonnaroo every year fight to use the same towel!
  • clock with an alarm.  I don’t want to assume people want to bring their cell phones on vacation.  I know that when I am staying with my parents, I rather like being cut off from the time.
  • fan for warmer months.  Sometimes people just need the air moving.  If your room doesn’t have a mounted ceiling fan, consider getting a small desktop oscillating one.
  • trash can.  It doesn’t need to be big.  I just don’t want to make my guests hunt for one.
  • reading materials.  These should probably be sourced from what you have in the house, selected based on the guest.
  • several sizes of non-sex comfy bathrobes.  Since you’re not actually a hotel, they don’t have to match or be embroidered or anything.  I’m not crazy.  I’d just aim for what might make your favorite people most comfortable.  (My Mom travels with her little white dog, and pup needs to make frequent trips outside, even at night.  Having a robe on the back of the door is a relief for her.)    I just want two of very different sizes, trying to get the most likely size scenarios covered.
  • several of the same type of scented candles and a matchbook or lighter.  Think in terms of same scent posted at points in the room.  I’m also aiming for something with a lid, so that if the smell is unappealing to the guest, they can quiet it by closing the jar or tin.  I usually choose fruity or vanilla scents, they seem warm and homey and still fun to me.  I would say avoid heavy perfumes.
  • ‘room service’ toiletry basket.  This can be anything, ranging from sample packs of shampoo and conditioner to hand-milled organic soy lavender soap.  It also doesn’t have to be a basket, you can use a large bowl, a metal bin, whatever works for your place.
  • calendar.  Unless you find something that is utterly perfect for your decor, think small.  It’s for just-in-case, for reference.
  • message board of some kind with magnets, pins, whatever attachments necessary.
  • art.  That sounds obvious, but something to look at while trying to fall asleep in a strange place may be good.  Art evokes the host, and can make a room more comforting.  I wouldn’t do personal photos, the only exception to that being long lost beloved family members or a small pic of the people who live in the house.
  • guest book or log and pen.  Obviously I’m going through some effort to make this one deeevine sleeping arrangement, I’d like to know who stayed here!
  • pet bed or pallet if you allow fuzzy friends.
  • pack’n’play, if you have baby visitors.  I want to get one of these to store in the closet, we are at that age where many of our friends are having little ones, and we don’t want that to be a hindrance for them coming to visit.  Life goes on after babies, amirite?
  • fresh flowers (and a vase meant for the room) or live plant.  A live plant wouldn’t need replacing with each visitor, but you would need to remember to water and maintain it.
  • carafe of water and glasses or bottled water.  This is another of those in-case-they-need-a-drink-in-the-midde-of-the-night things.  Its just nice to have something on hand.
  • stationary, envelopes, stamps, a pen.  Hotels do it!
  • simplified map of the area, as well as a list of favorite local restaurants, sights, and shops.  I know my town has a lot of fun stuff to see!

I realize that this is a lot of information as it is, so I’m waiting and doing a *second* post on my selections for each of these items or categories.  I also intend to have a printable version of this list for you somehow, but my ‘webmaster’ (Pan) has been a little behind on all of his duties.  That update will come when it is ready or there is enough demand, I suppose.

Also, its unlikely that even I will be able to come up with *all* of the items on this list in the month I’ve allotted myself to finish this room, especially considering my budget must still pay for a fifty dollar bucket ‘o Ben.  But I’m vowing to do my best, and try realrealreal hard, and maybe I can get close.  I won’t be giving up on the list until its done, though, so even if I call the room finished at the end of April without 100% of the items listed, I will still be working on it.  These things are important to me!




2 Responses to “The “Gracious Guest Room” List”

  1. As a recent guest in the Love Nest guest room, I would say I’d have spent hours in the bed with my book and snuggle bears if the company wasn’t so engaging and fun. I did try though ~ Because the room was so warm and inviting!! This is a perfect *how to* guest room post.

  2. Amber

    Aw, thanks Miss Brecca, we sure did love having you! I can’t wait to get this room finished and have you back… and next time I can make the breakfast, so you really can sleep in!

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