What elevates a room for your holiday guests to "truly welcoming" from "just a space to crash"?
It's the little thoughtful things you do, the experts say.
"Always consider what your guests may forget. Have the closet stocked with bathrobes, toothbrush, toothpaste, brushes, hair dryer and towels," says New York interior designer Charlotte Moss.
"Put dimmers on all the guest-bathroom switches. After a late party . . . guests just want to brush their teeth, and you don't need lights glaring at you," advises Skip Sroka, a Washington designer.
"Think about technology," says Amy Elliott, author of
A Warm Welcome: How to Be a Gracious Host to Friends and Family
(Ryland Peters & Small, April 2009). "If there is a TV in the guest room, make sure the remote has fresh batteries. If there is a computer in there, leave instructions for log-in and codes. Be specific, and tell [guests] whether to click on Safari or Internet Explorer. For guests with laptops, give them the log-in code for your Internet service."
Designer Celerie Kemble recommends a fresh tree or plant for the guest room, "to make sure it has a little bit of life in it. Often, these rooms are closed up for so long. More than an arrangement of fresh flowers, a tree or plant makes me feel like the room is not forlorn."
Guests need a clear surface more than they need a dresser, says Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry. "They need a place for their stuff. And they need something more than that wobbly little rack for the suitcase. Better a bench."
Look at your guest-room sheets in the linen closet, Elliott says. "Have you been using the same ones for years? Do you see Marimekko prints from the 1970s? It's time to upgrade. Donate your old sheets to animal shelters."
Some touches can tilt a guest room into sheer luxury for your lucky visitors. Consider providing:
Terrycloth robes. Travelers rarely pack their own because they're so bulky. Provide a large and a medium, or a generous one-size-fits-all.
A warm throw or a wool or cashmere blanket to use while reading a book.
Extra pillows. If you usually have down on the bed, offer something hypoallergenic as an alternative for people with allergies.
A luggage rack. Not only are racks good for unpacking, they can be used as extra storage - better than keeping an open suitcase on the floor.