The perfect guest room
Are you having guests to stay this Christmas? Here are a few tips for creating or preparing a guest room, in a sustainable way whilst keeping your stress levels down!
There’s something about Christmas that brings out the perfectionist in many of us, coupled with an urge to finish things. Having a deadline can be useful, but only if we realise that the world won’t really end if our homes are not pinnacles of perfection by Christmas Day.
What makes a good guest room? What do guests actually need? Well what they don’t need is 5 star luxury (unless you actually are running a hotel) or the sense that they are an inconvenience, especially at Christmas. Guests need somewhere to sleep, to be warm, access to a bathroom and above all else, to feel welcome.
Last minute makeover?
If your guest room could do with a makeover and that involves re-decoration, as I’m writing this in November with just 7 weeks to Christmas, my honest advice would be - think twice. Most decent decorators will be fully booked and many curtain makers will have closed their pre-Christmas order list or be just about to. Making decisions at speed is one of the greatest causes of waste when decorating our homes.
Only take on the re-decoration yourself if you know you really have time amongst work, present shopping, cooking etc. Showing guests into a room on Christmas Eve where the paint is barely dry is only likely to make them feel guilty that you’ve gone to the trouble and expense. Far better to work with the room as it is and plan the re-decoration for when you have time to spend on it. Sustainable design is about looking at the bigger picture.
So what can you do?
Clean & fresh
If your guest room lies unused much of the year make sure it gets a good clean and freshen up before your guests arrive. Be sure to use eco friendly cleaning products to avoid harsh chemicals. There are now plenty of sustainable cleaning products to choose from even in supermarkets.
Open the windows on a dry day to let in some fresh air. Clean the carpet or flooring - steam mops are wonderful if you have hard floors. Check the curtains for dust - most vacuum cleaners have an upholstery attachment. Check the radiator works. Do that last one now as plumbers and heating companies get booked up at this time of year too.
Remove or store
Many of us use guest rooms for other purposes - home office, laundry, home gym. That’s a good thing, but plan ahead for guests so they don’t feel like they’re in the way. Tidy away moveable stuff like paperwork and laundry. If you have gym or office equipment that can’t be moved, ensure it’s switched off to avoid annoying light or background noise. (All those devices in standby mode use energy so you might want to do that anyway.) Make sure there is a clear, safe path from bed to door - it’s easy for guests to forget where they are when half asleep!
Bedlinen and towels
Check your bedlinen now, don’t leave it til Christmas Eve. If your spare linens are past their best, consider buying new but look for sustainable options. Buy certified organic cotton if at all possible (see this article from the Soil Association for reasons why https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/fashion-textiles/organic-cotton/) . Or you could even try bamboo bedlinen.
In terms of colour, either coordinate bedlinen with the existing decor in your guest room, go for white or cream. (That's the safest bet if you do plan to decorate later). Allow two pillows for each guest and check the thickness of the duvet - nothing disturbs a night’s sleep better than a pillow like a flat rock and being frozen because you’ve got the summer duvet! Everyone varies in how warm or cold they like to be, so allow a throw or blanket that guests can add or remove as needed. (If you need to buy pillows or duvets I love the ones we bought from the Fine Bedding Company which are filled with a ‘smart down’ made from recycled plastic - sustainable, vegan friendly and hypoallergenic!)
Leave towels folded on the guest bed - then it’s obvious who they’re for and that they’re clean. A bath towel and a hand towel for each person is helpful. A spare, clean bathrobe is also a welcome addition to a guest room. But ask your guests to let you know if anything is unused when they leave - that way you avoid unnecessary washing.
Lighting in guest rooms
A bedside lamp is useful for reading as guests may take longer to fall asleep or wake earlier in an unfamiliar bed. You could leave a few books, and a couple of magazines in the room too. Bedside lighting is also good for safety - much better than stumbling around an unfamiliar room, in the dark, half asleep.
Thoughtful touches for guests
Leave a spare tooth brush (a basic one will do, but leave it sealed in the pack, sustainable bamboo ones are easily available) and tissues in the room. Years ago I used to fill a basket with the kind of mini toiletries you find in hotels, but they really are just a waste of plastic. Now I leave full size bottles of shampoo and shower gel in the shower and tell guests (who are usually close friends or family anyway) to let me know if they’ve forgotten anything.
Do put out glasses for water and if your bedside tables are made of wood, add a coaster or too to avoid rings from hot drinks mugs. If the windows in your guest room lock, make sure you leave the key available.
If guests are only staying overnight, a couple of hangers is probably all they need, but if staying for longer, try to clear some space for them to hang clothes and some drawer space.
Things to avoid in guest rooms
Beware of scent ‘overkill’. A quick spritz with natural oils is fine - but use a light touch! Avoid room fresheners, which are full of chemicals, especially the plug in kind which also use electricity. If you have guests with asthma or any other breathing issues or sensitive skin, it’s probably best to avoid scent altogether. Just open the windows in advance - fresh air really is the best indoor air freshener.
Finally candles - another ‘no’ in a guest room. Lit candles shouldn’t be left unattended and the risk of falling asleep with them lit is greater when a lot of food and alcohol have been consumed...
With a little forward planning you can reduce unnecessary stress, focus on fun and spending time with your guests this Christmas.
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