It's official. My husband and I are empty nesters. Our youngest son not only moved out, he moved to Montana (we live in Kansas)! While I wish he was a little closer to home, I'm happy to see him spreading his wings, and the good news is, he's off to a great start!
Our oldest child is thirty, so this empty nester thing has been a long time coming. As a result, I'm finding the adjustment relatively easy (not that I don't miss him). His absence has been made more bearable by the fact that three of our four grandchildren have recently moved close to us. One benefit of this trade-off is the fact that most nights the littles go home. On special occasions when they sleep over at our house, they already have a room all their own. That means we now have a room that is 100% dedicated to guests.
Overnight guests (other than the littles) are not infrequent at our house, so I am pleased with this new development. This past week I transformed our son's room to a guest bedroom, and I thought I would share with you the things I did to make the space as comfortable as possible for the many visitors I hope to accomodate.
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First and foremost, I want my guests to sleep comfortably. It just so happens that we were in the market for a new mattress for that room because the old one was, well...old. Let's just say that in terms of years that mattress has been in our possession, the first digit was a two, and leave it at that.
Shopping for a mattress can be intimidating. It's an expensive investment, so you want to get it right. If you're shopping for a mattress that is going to be used by a variety of people, that complicates things even more. I found this guide from Sleep Foundation to be helpful. In covers all the factors from mattress types to pricing to body types to firmness and sleep positions. I guess you could say they really lay it all out (pun intended).
In addition to a comfy and clean mattress, sheets play an important role in making guests feel welcome. How often have you visited family and slept on mismatched 30-year old sheets? I did last week. It wasn't awful, but I was sure glad to get home to my own bed. This comfortable sheet set is both affordable and luxurious. We have them on all our beds, and we love them! Cotton sheets (preferably Egyptian) are recommended because they are the most breathable.
Pillows also play an important role in sleep comfort. The problem is, pillow preferences vary widely, so choosing pillows that will feel comfortable to a majority of people can be tricky. I recommend these shredded memory foam pillows with bamboo covers because they are both soft and firm. They are also hyperallergenic and have moisture wicking/cooling properties. Another great option are these down alternative pillows.
I love the look of a bed piled high with pretty throw pillows, but when it comes to guest rooms, it's important to consider where the pillows go when they are not on the bed. You don't want your visitors tripping over loose throw pillows in the middle of the night. If you also love decorative pillows, I recommend getting a large basket, such as the one shown here, for storing the pillows when not in use. If your guests aren't as into throw pillows as you are, they can place the pillows in the basket on their first night and leave them there throughout their stay. They will look tidy and be out of the way.
Blankets and Comforters
There are several factors to keep in mind when selecting blankets and comforters. These include quality, price, style, comfort, warmth, and breathability. When selecting bedding for a guest room, it's good to choose fabrics that are versatile and durable since they are going to be used by people with varying preferences and be washed repeatedly. Vellux is my personal favorite, but fleece is also a good option.
In addition to mattress size (full, queen, king), keep mattress thickness in mind when purchasing blankets and comforters. These days mattresses can be as much as 18 inches thick. If you have a super thick mattress, you may want to go with a slightly larger blanket to ensure that it completely covers the mattress. Blankets that don't tuck in tend to wander.
I recommend having at least one extra blanket in the room in case your guests get cold during the night. It's also nice to have an extra pillow or two in the closet.
Making a bed may seem simple on the surface, but a surprising number of people do not know how to do it properly. This simple set of instructions from Better Homes & Gardens breaks it down nicely. Of course, there are variations in methods and preferences, but this gets at the basics.
We have recently stayed in a number of hotels, and there is one thing they do that drives me crazy. They always leave 12-18 inches of space between the top of the comforter/top sheet and the headboard. My husband and I both like to have the covers right up under our chins when we sleep. This practice makes that impossible without untucking the sheet from the foot of the bed.
When I make a bed, I pull the covers up to within about three inches of the head of the mattress. This accomodates the chin tuckers like myself, without significantly inconveniencing those who like to sleep with their shoulders and arms exposed as they can simply fold the top of the comforter and top sheet over. What do you think? Are you a chin tucker or an arm exposer? Where do you place the top of your comforter and top sheet when you are making a bed?
If your guest room is just a guest room and serves no other purpose, then leaving space for your visitors to unpack or hang up clothing is probably not a big deal assuming the room has a closet. If possible, a dresser is also helpful, not only as a potential place for guests to stash their things, but also as a surface on which to set things.
If, however, your guest room has to do double duty as say, a craft room or office, then you should make every effort to carve out guest-only space. This might be a couple of empty dresser drawers or an open section in the closet with 10-12 empty hangers. Ideally you would have both. If neither is an option, then I recommend a collapsible luggage rack like the one shown here where guests can place their suitcase at a comfortable height.
When placing items in our guest room, I thought about the types of items you find in most hotel rooms and chose those that made the most sense for our space. I also added a few of my own. The basic ammenities I selected include:
I was careful not to add too many items into the space because I want guests to feel like the space is theirs to use. For this reason, I kept the decor and wall art simple as well and made sure there was plenty of surface space on top of the furniture for visitors to place their own belongings.
The final touch was to create a small sign that reads:
Welcome to our home.
Should you need
to use the internet,
the wifi password is...
The sign is displayed on the dresser where is in plainly visible.
If you have room, it's nice to provide a writing/work surface such as a small desk. Be sure to include an appropriately sized desk chair as well. Another great addition is a comfortable reading chair and/or a bench for sitting, preferrably one with storage for extra blankets and pillows.
Our guest room faces south with a large window, making it the warmest room in the house, even in winter. For this reason, I have placed a small portable fan in the closet in case guests feel overheated during the night.
With our son gone, the bathroom next to the guest bedroom has no permanent user. I have therefore designated it "the guest bathroom". It's the bathroom visitors, whether popping in for a chat or staying overnight, will use. As such, I have stocked it with items a visitor might need while away from home. These include:
Whether you have an empty room to dedicate to guests or you're just carving out space in a room already dedicated to another purpose, I hope you've found these suggestions for creating a comfortable guest room useful.