Creating a comfortable but affordable room for guests can be a challenge. But it's possible to make your home more inviting without spending a lot of money.
• Furnish a multi-tasking room. The guest room serves many functions for Tammy, a Miami Beach homeowner. On weekday mornings, the spare bedroom with its own bathroom doubles as a home office. In the evenings, it becomes a media center for her children. But on weekends when guests visit, it turns into a bedroom. A large cabinet, which houses the media center, also has clothing hooks and extra pillows and linens. A couch converts into a bed with a festive quilt added for guests.
• Create a gift basket. From sunscreen to new toothbrushes, Tammy provides guests with a large stock of personal care products in an attractive basket. She purchases travel-size containers of shampoo, lotions and other grooming products and refills them from economy-size bottles as needed.
• Create privacy. The ideal guest room enables a visitor to retreat behind a closed door, complete with a private bathroom. (If you don't have an extra bathroom for guests, Woman's World magazine recommends placing an attractive towel stand in the guest room.) The guest area should also include space for suitcases, clothing and other personal belongings.
• Use color wisely. Walls painted in soothing colors, such as soft greens and aqua blues, can create a relaxing retreat, says Jane Heaton, owner of Designing Woman, a design firm in northern Broward County. She recommends against wild and hot colors, which can make some guests feel claustrophobic.
• Decorate with a theme. Use accents and accessories to create a vacation environment, Heaton says. She recommends tropical, nautical or fishing themes. Mounted seashells, unusual picture frames, photographs and other accessories can provide decorative accents. Potpourris, scented soaps and other aromatic treats also create a relaxing environment.
• Stock up. Supplies of festive hand paper towels, fluffy towels, appliances (reading lights, an iron and a clock) and extra pillows make guests feel pampered. In my home, we also provide visitors with a wide selection of reading materials: novels, nonfiction books and magazines.
• Be prepared: An inflatable air mattress, additional blankets, sleeping bags and cots are helpful if guests arrive with children.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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