Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Be our guest


Ensuring your visitors feel at home can be a tricky business. Interior designer Jamie Hempsall offers some ideas.

It can be a bit of a luxury, but I know that many of us like to keep a bedroom as a guest room. I find the problem with many such spaces is they never lose the tag of spare room and get treated more as an after-thought.

For your guest room to be an attractive feature in your home, consider it an extension of your family’s living area. View it as somewhere you may want to sleep and you will come up with a considerably different design perspective.

A successfully-designed guest room should create a space where visitors feel instantly embraced by your home, but also have a sense of privacy. Think of a relaxing hotel feel, comfortable and neat, but with some more personal touches and you will not be far off the mark when creating the perfect guest space.

Start by mentally assigning your room its proper function and treat it as that at all times – work on the basis that someone could be staying at a moment’s notice and you will quickly overcome the “box room” concept.

The biggest rule is that your guest room must not become a dumping ground. If you need to store things make sure that you provide enough discrete storage and drawer space so that things can be hidden away, avoiding piles of clutter on the floor. Divan bed drawers are brilliant for this and the inclusion of a chest of drawers is always useful.

When designating the storage space, spare a thought for your guests’ needs and ensure that they have provision of the following:

* Drawers for underwear and tops
* Hanging space for coats, jackets and dresses
* A flat surface for toiletries and make-up
* Somewhere to store their overnight bag

This will ensure that they can unpack and relax without dealing with crumpled clothes or falling over luggage.

When it comes to beds and bedding do not skimp, but treat this as you would any other room in the house and budget for new additions, rather than depositing “hand me downs”.

The average life of a mattress should be 10 years with regular use; bear that in mind if you are “assigning” an old bed. If you would not be happy sleeping on it, should your guests be? Investing in a proper bed is vital, it need not cost the earth, but should at least be comfortable to inhabit for a few nights.

The size of bed should reflect the profile of your guests for the next three to five years. If the majority are single or children then two single beds make perfect sense and add extra flexibility. However, if they are more likely to be couples, then a double bed is the obvious choice. If your room can cope with it invest in a king size which will give your guests an extra six inches of sleeping space (still only equivalent to two standard single beds) as this is now the generally accepted minimum size for two adults to inhabit.

You should regularly invest in new duvets and pillows. Purchase good quality washable pillows and duvets so that your bedding not only looks inviting, but also is hygienic. The general rule of thumb on a pillow is it should be replaced after two years. You can extend the life of your bedding by investing in pillow and mattress protectors which can be easily washed on a regular basis.

I would always advise ensuring that your sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers are 100 per cent cotton – exactly as you would have on your own bed – with a thread count of 200 or more, to avoid allergic reactions. Again, design these into your scheme and do not hand down old bedding to your guests. Keep to plain colours, rather than patterns to avoid limiting any future redecoration and introduce interest into your scheme in the form of cushions and throws.

When it comes to bed dressing try not to overdo it. A plethora of cushions and bedcovers may look magazine-perfect, but can be a nightmare to get into and often have to be deposited all over the floor to allow your guest access to the bed. It also gives them the additional challenge of recreating your display when they get up in the morning. As a rule of thumb three cushions is a maximum on a double bed and one throw is sufficient.

For the finishing touches ensure your guests have access to a mirror (ideally full length), a clock, a reading light each and bath robes (to avoid an awkward streak to the bathroom).

Finally, do not forget to give them somewhere to hang wet towels to avoid damp bedding or damaged walls (as often happens when they are draped over radiators).

Applying these guidelines will ensure you make your guests feel perfectly welcome, how you get them to leave is up to you!

* Jamie Hempsall, BIID is an award winning interior designer. Visit www.jamiehempsall.com or contact 0800 032 1180.

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