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Make a Welcoming Guest Room

Tobi’s tips for designing a welcoming space for guests

By Tobi Fairley

I love to entertain overnight guests—and I’ve enjoyed planning the guest bedroom in my new house during my renovation. Of course, the five great tips I gave you in my Traditional Home column this month apply not only to master suites but also to the guest room. So be sure to include a comfortable mattress and fabulous pillows and sheets. But there are other great ways to really make your guests feel comfortable and cared for. Here are my top welcoming tips:

1. A guest room needs great light control. I like to have bedside lamps or swing-arm lamps for those who want to read in bed and a lamp beside the chair or on a chest as a functional addition. Oh, and don’t forget a night-light so guests can see if they get up during the night.

2. Having a bench at the end of the bed or a stool in the room is a great functional touch. It works like a luggage rack, giving guests a place to set their bags, and it’s great when they need to sit down when putting on their shoes.

3. I also like to add other functional furniture. Having a lounge chair in the guest bedroom is great, if space allows. Guests may want to read, work on a laptop, or just escape for a while during their visit. And they may want to relax before bed without getting in the bed—giving them a great upholstered chair makes this an option. If possible, add a desk in the space, either as one of the bedside tables or in another location so they can use a computer more easily. It’s a great place to keep their personal items, too. 

4. A stack of magazines and books is a nice touch for a guest room. Give your guests good reading material for the evenings or for downtime during their visit. I like to put my favorite novels, a few regional favorites (for me, that’s things with a Southern theme), and a few of my favorite design and architecture books and magazines in their space. It makes the room feel personal and makes your guests feel loved.

5. Fresh flowers are one of the nicest ways to say “welcome” to your guests. This is essential to a guest room in my house—flowers are pretty and smell great.

6. A perfect touch if you have the space is a coffee station and plenty of water—either in bottles, a carafe, or a mini-fridge hidden in a cabinet or closet. Some guests may rise much earlier than you do, so this is a great way to let them start their day whenever they like without having to head down to the kitchen in their PJs! I always include a few snacks in case they get hungry. You know a good Southern hostess never lets a guest go hungry.

7. To make your guest room work like a fabulous boutique hotel, you can provide the code to your Wi-Fi, add a fabulous-smelling candle and matches, include a basket of essentials like fluffy towels or a robe, and you might include a few necessities in case they forgot them—an extra toothbrush, deodorant, or a disposable razor. I love going the extra mile to make those staying in my home feel loved!