how to make a guest space“All I need’s a bed ‘n’ a Bible.” You’ll have to indulge me here. I really wanted to start out with this quote from an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, wherein a backwoodsy hotel patron explains to the manager why he doesn’t need the bridal suite. Read it in your best and grittiest Larry the Cable Guy voice, and you’ll be in business. Haha! It’s still cracks me up! Oh, yeah! Classic. Okay, I’m good.

So, here is the material point: it doesn’t take a whole lot to make overnight guests feel comfortable. Just a few essentials, really. Everything I ever needed to know about generous hosting I learned from my Aunt Kathy– an empty-nester whose nest is never fully empty. Her house in Las Vegas is full of vacant bedrooms just waiting to be filled with family, friends, and strays of all walks. Clean sheets on the beds, well-stocked bathrooms, fully-loaded pantry, closets bursting with spare blankets and fresh towels. It’s like a hotel, but with the added amenities of love and laughter and stimulating conversation. (That was the cheesiest and truest thing I’ve ever written.) Every time I stay with them, I come away feeling buoyed in body and soul.  I want to be Kathy when I grow up.

The capacity to host is an essential part of an inviting designscape. A happy home should be shared, and the more the merrier.  However, very rarely do you have an entire room (let alone rooms) to devote to it. I don’t know about you, but space-wise, I’m running at full capacity twenty-four/sev. Luckily, when you are accommodating overnight guests, you don’t need a whole lot of space to make them feel comfortable. I do not have the square footage to recreate Kathy’s set-up completely, but I can definitely spare a square for the essentials.

The Host/ess’s Checklist 

  1. A Bed. Find a room, any room, that you can put a guest bed in to. It can double up with your home office, exercise room, storage room, or kids’ room (assuming your child understands that they will be ousted when there are guests). Make sure the sheets are always fresh for each guest’s use, and that the room can be closed off for some privacy. Mine “guest room” is in the middle of my office/craft room.
  2. ‘n’ a Bible. A guest bed– and any bed, for that matter– also needs a side table and a lamp. You need to provide a convenient place for guests to stash their night effects (water, phone, watch, etc.)  Optionally, you may wish to include a Bible… or a few other non-secular, but interesting look books. Poetry, photography, fact or quote books are perfect. You want something delightful and digestible in small little bits. Another important 21st century consideration is convenient access to an outlet for cell phone charging. We like to provide cell phone chargers as well– both Apple and Android. We don’t believe in technology-based discrimination. Or regular discrimination.
  3. Closet space. One of my pet peeves about traveling is having to live out of a suitcase– and the strewn-out mess that ensues. I always have the thought: “Geez, I’m not this big of a slob at home!” Providing your guests a little bit of floor space in a closet allows them to store their cases out of sight and out from underfoot and gives them the option of hanging things up if need be. This is a consideration that many guests will not know is an option, so be sure to point it out. And there will be much rejoicing.
  4. Toiletries. Most people travel with their essential toiletries, but don’t haul shampoo and conditioner, body wash, a razor, q-tips, a hair dryer, or lotion with them. Do one better than a hotel, and provide quality amenities in the bathroom. I like to keep a bag of disposable razors on hand, so visitors get a fresh one along with their towel and washcloth. Keep everything else readily available and in plain sight. If you are sharing a family bathroom with guests, see to it that your personal things are stored out of sight. Try and keep the space as neutral as possible. Nothing grosser than a hairy brush or a grimy loofah to remind you your sharing private space with a crowd.
  5. Snacks. It’s nice to have a smattering of snacks on hand for visitors. You want snacks that are quick, easy, and portable. String or wax cheeses, yogurt cups, apples, baby carrots, granola bars, and of course, chocolates. If your guests are going out sight-seeing, or want some alone time, they can simply grab a few little things, and they’ll be set.

If you are thoughtful and considerate host, people will want to come visit you. They’ll flock to visit you. Simple as that. Make your home a place where happy memories are made and peaceful time is passed. You’ll love your home even more when friends and family are there loving it with you.

Love and guts,