If my house was burning down and I had time to only grab one thing besides my kids and my cat, it would be my car keys so I could drive straight to a loved ones house. Material things have become so unimportant to me since having kids, it was only since having becoming a mom that I have prioritized (and maybe a little over analyzed) the details of what it means to have a home. I have come to realize it’s the relationships and the time spent with friends and family within the comforts of my home (and in others homes) that I am most grateful for. It’s not the design or the chachka that surrounds me.
(Yiddish) an inexpensive showy trinket –VOCABULARY.COM
So….in my efforts to make the coziest and loveliest of guests rooms the first thing I did was try to identify what it is I would want as a guest and then I tried to create that atmosphere. For me that includes luxuries like cozy blankets, a TV or book to indulge in while falling asleep. It’s little doses of personality and pushing the design bar a little making things quirky and interesting that I encourage the most when setting up a guest room.
1. First things first: “Make a plan! Stick to the plan and always deliver” says the wise stork Jasper from the movie Storks. (Sorry every once in awhile a movie or song line just pops into my head and it makes the most sense…apologize if you have no idea what I am talking about…) but take the quote for what it’s worth. Make a plan, figure out what items you need to create your perfect atmosphere and establish what you have to work with and what you will need to purchase (and how much money you have to spend on the project). This blog is not much about the budget, I am going to assume that we all have a range we are comfortable with and I just propose you think about it in advance and try to stick with it best you can…note worthy point – you don’t have to buy everything brand new, some things like lamps and art can be bought at thrift stores and you would never know and you will pay a fraction of even Winners prices.
2. Declutter – In my case, the room I had designated as a guest room also doubled as a room where things went to die. I had to literally move out two bookshelves worth of “Stuff” before I could even see the space clearly. I encourage you to leave as little extra chachka in the room as possible.
“Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet, it’s anything that gets in between you and the life you want to be living”Peter Walsh
When I took a really good look around at the stuff that had accumulated on the bookshelves that just happened to be in the room I was able to identify that almost none of it fit into my initial vision of what I wanted in the guest room. So out it went, I even made one box for books and then handed them out as party favours at my daughters 5th birthday party…super casual no one really thought twice about it. My point is I got aggressive with purging. If it didn’t serve the purpose of my Guest room then it had to go. Somethings got moved to the rev room and others got donated. Whatever you have to do to focus on the point of the room then do that!
3. The Headboard – Although I know that in a fire I am not going to think twice about my headboard in the guest room I do think its a nice touch not to have your hands touch the drywall in the middle of the night, or your pillow slip between the wall and the mattress. I am currently in the process of making my own headboard. This one will not be as HIGH LEVEL as the ones I sell to my clients that want it done professionally, but it will do the trick for my little guest room. I am simply going to cover some plywood with batting and staple on some fabric. I will be sure to make an entire blog post on the process so stay tuned for that. For now I am using two giant oversized flanged shams as a headboard and it seems to do the trick for now.
4. Garbage can – I find nothing more awkward than looking for a garbage can when you are at someone else’s house. Please just put a basket with a bag liner in it for your guest. I like thrifting for baskets that I can line with a plastic bag, I think it’s got character and it’s giving second hand items a chance.
5. Mirror – who doesn’t want to know what kind of cobwebs they are shaking off before greeting the rest of the world. Hang at least a small mirror by the door for a quick check. It might be one of those luxuries that maybe will go unnoticed as a super duper design detail but for the time someone wants to have that quick little assurance, it’s a lovely touch.
6. TV with DVD’s +/or Netflix – Let’s just be honest this is because of my own bad habit of falling asleep to the TV….but if you are hosting someone from out of town chances are that means you are getting a lot of one on one face time and sometimes you just need to tune out from other people. Relationships can be tricky and having an escape like Netflix allows a little “me time” for your guest to indulge if they want to. Hey, I am not going to lie I need to “fill up” by spending time with people, I am greatly motivated by my friends and family but I need my alone time just as much to unwind and decompress from the day.
7. Bedding – layers! Everyone has different sleeping needs, some like it hot, some like cold sheets, some like squishy some like hard mattresses. Now you can’t plan to get it perfect for everyone, but having layers at least allows your guest to feel like they have a choice in what version is perfect for them. And it’s a great way to get in some pattern or colour. I add a big cozy fluffy duvet at the end of the bed because it looks so perfect to fall into, and can be pulled up if needed. But, for those who sleep hot they can easily identify it and kick it off the bed before they are a sweaty mess.
8. Travel toiletries – because it’s fun to try new product. Every time I travel and stay in a hotel I take home the toiletries. I then put them in a cute basket and hope my guest indulges if they want to.
9. Colour and texture – take a risk in this room! Chances are you are only in the guest room when you need to change the sheets or vacuum the floor so make it bold. It’s lovely to live in a neutral space but it’s another to travel and experience new textures and patterns. It gives you guest this extra little experience that they probably wouldn’t commit to at home. I am almost embarrassed to share this but because I am writing in efforts to reveal that not everything is perfect, somethings take time and some things have to just make do until we can prioritize it. That’s the case for my window treatments, what do they say about the shoe makers children (in my case the drapery ladies daughter…) it will no doubt be the most improved part of the room when it gets done. Currently I have an old Work display tapestry and an uncut piece of fabric draped over the window to create privacy and colour. It’s not going to stay like this, in fact I think it just inspired my next blog post : designing a custom window treatment.
10. Something personal – this is specific to your guest and would be changed accordingly. A photo or a book that reminds you of your guest. I travelled to Buenos Aires with my girlfriend who visited recently so I put the magazine I bought on our travels on the night stand. She never mentioned it, but I know she saw it and I know it would remind her of our times travelled there together. We don’t get to see each other as often as we did when we travelled together, so it was my way of closing in that gap with a nostalgic pull at the heart strings. It could be fresh flowers, a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine…or even a hand written note. The point is we often don’t feel singled out or acknowledged one on one as much as we could probably stand so if you can bring that moment to someone that is staying in your house, I say well done.
There you have it! My personal take on my guest room in efforts of making a house a home. Like I said before my priorities have shifted and it’s the people and the relationships I make and cultivate in my home that are most important but it’s fun to have a little personal expression in the decor and create an atmosphere that represents our own unique individuality all the while making others more comfortable. I have my work cut out for me in regards to my headboard and my window coverings – isn’t that ironic!! That’s my day job.
Follow along with me as I make my house a home, next week the start of a DIY headboard or perhaps the making of some custom made drapes.