By 11:30 pm I found myself in the guest bathroom with a pair of white cotton men’s pajamas, a bar of travel soap, a toothbrush and paste. I stood there with my confusing wine-coffee buzz, staring at this sexy, doorless shower with a glass wall and a full length window, an overhead rain faucet and only an exterior wall of bamboo for privacy… yikes! In front of me was the counter—a rough cut, floating 8”-thick slab of cement with a shallow basin bowl cut into it. A single bath towel lay folded on the top… nothing else, nothing! No drawer, medicine cabinet, trash can, linen closet, nothing! I glanced over at the toilet paper and thought,”this is the last they will see of you.”
Years ago, while working on an event installation in Santa Monica, I needed to stay another half day, but I had not planned nor was I prepared to spend the night anywhere. Fortunately, this handsome, hip gay couple I had just met that day kindly offered me a bed and I accepted.
I was very impressed as we arrived at their amazing Zen-style home in Malibu Canyon. The long, low profile structure with a primarily-glass façade, sat above us at the end of a wide, natural slate stair path with an easy ascend. Aligned for the romantic canyon view, this serene environment was thoughtfully enhanced by pristine, Asian-inspired indigenous landscaping and various water features.
The interior was equally impressive with its decadent spaciousness and stark, unembellished rooms, walls and surfaces. I had a delightful evening drinking wine while, touring the home, hearing “their story” and watching them prepare and roll our sushi for dinner, at which time I switched to sake. The evening came to a close with a scary good chocolate confection and a tall, “…oh you have to try an espresso from our new machine!” drink—the perfect bedtime snack!
The bedroom, equally as sparse, had a floor-to-ceiling window with a black rock garden on the floor in front. The bed was a single mattress on a black ogee base with one pillow and matelassé coverlet, all in shades of river rock. Wall-mounted above the bed was an ornate carved Asian screen and a single, caged light hanging off-center with a pull chain you could reach while prone.
As I lay there with my face tightening from the travel soap wash, my body wallowing in wine and my brain in a coffee conference, I began to worry about my morning routine—the shower show, my dry skin, MY HAIR! Clearly, these wash-and-go pretty boys didn’t know from beauty maintenance. This was evident because they had no STUFF! Due to the fact there was nothing to watch, read or write on, I decided to defuse a possible night of worry and homesickness by taking a 1:30 am shower in the dark and on the back of a receipt, found in my purse, I proceeded to list all the things I would need to make me feel comfortable and at ease.
That unscheduled sleepover turned out bittersweet. What could have been a great story about my night in Malibu with the “beautiful people” and their fabulous Zen retreat, instead was tainted by my panic and over-reaction to a night without my stuff.
Bottom line, I now realize the importance of a properly appointed guest room. I would never want a guest of mine to feel as misplaced as I did that night, so I created a checklist of all that should be addressed when preparing the guest room for your planned and unplanned guests.
Firstly, the room itself should be light and pleasant; try not to fill the room with all the clients’ left over stuff. It should feel as spacious as possible. If they have a view, even the backyard, create an airy window with full length, lightweight curtain panels and, on the same window, have an additional blackout treatment, like blinds or blackout drapes.
The bed should look and feel cozy, with a lightweight blanket and coverlet or quilt, at least two pillows (one soft, one firm, down and foam) and maybe a neck roll. Also keep an extra blanket and pillow in the closet and add a throw at the end of the bed for a nap. Use 100% cotton linens and the highest thread count the budget will allow. If the mattress is boring, add a feather bed topper or a slab of memory foam—guests will appreciate the bed’s soft hug!
The nightstand should be clear of all personal items and have an alarm clock, a tray with water carafe and glass and/or a bottle of water, a vase and some fresh flowers from your garden, Kleenex, candles, matches and a bedtime snack, like a small bowl of fruit or a tin of cookies. Paper and pen should be available and a note directing the guest to the power bar access to charge their phone and maybe the Wi-Fi password.
Below the nightstand or in an adjacent basket, have a collection of books and current magazines or books about the local history, events and activities. The lighting should be suitable for reading in bed—a table or wall-mount swing arm lamp works best. Add a night light along the path to the bathroom. A portable CD player or an iPod dock is a nice touch too.
The closet should have plenty of extra hangers and clear bar space, plus one or two empty drawers if possible. Although I always prefer a big, wide mirror over the dresser, if space does not allow, add a full length mirror on the back of the door. Invest in a luggage rack if there is no trunk or bench to set a suitcase on and hang a big fluffy robe in the closet for guest use.
The bathroom should have one bath sheet, two bath towels, washcloths, hand towels and a bath mat. Arrange a selection of pretty soaps to choose from, shampoo and conditioner, a new toothbrush and toothpaste, hand lotion, sun block and a blow dryer. You could also set a basket of all their travel size toiletries on the counter and bath oil and candles around the tub.
It’s a given that the bed and bath décor will be adorable when you are done, but the client will really be impressed if you bring it all together and make it “guest ready” for them. When you have completed the guest suite, invite your client to spend the night in the room and make notes and, if it all goes well, to “Like” you on Facebook!