Holidays bring guests to stay even when you don't have a designated guest room — often making living rooms temporary bedrooms. While "the more the merrier" might be your mantra, it can be a challenge to make everyone feel comfortable when space and privacy are at a premium. As a tribute to all of the generous hosts who open up their homes over the holidays, here are some ideas and tips to help make a temporary guest room work:
1. Welcoming Touches: Guests know that staying in someone's living room is not ideal for anyone, so putting some extra effort into welcoming them goes a long way to ensuring that they feel relaxed and at home.
Here are a few non-verbal ways to say welcome:
• Give them their freedom! Having a set of keys to give them when they arrive, along with a map, transit card and info on all the ways to best contact you sets a tone and sends a message that they are free to come and go as they please, something that makes the visit more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.
• Welcome them to a freshly cleaned room - vacuumed, dusted and windows/mirrors shining
• Declutter the space - what works for day to day life on the living room surfaces can feel cluttered once someone "moves in" - remove old, outdated magazines/newspapers/mail, tv controllers, the novel you are reading and the netflix dvds that you haven't gotten around to watching yet
• A bunch of fresh flowers never hurts.
2. Bedding: Just because the space and "bed" may be makeshift and temporary, the bedding doesn't need to be. Having a real bed pillow, sheets and enough blankets for your guest is a must. Nothing makes someone feel more like an extra oversized kid at a sleepover than being asked to use throw pillows and an old scratchy sleeping bag instead of actual bedding.
3. Temperature: Another key component to sleeping comfort is temperature. Show your guest how to control the heating/cooling for their room if it is somewhere they can easily access. Asking if they'd like a window open and making sure there is an extra blanket with their bedding are easy ways to send the message that they should make themselves comfortable and are free to adjust things as needed.
4. Privacy : Often, especially in city homes, the window treatments in the living room allow for LOTS of light to come in but may not provide much privacy. If this is the case in your home, providing a temporary fix will be much appreciated. Even if the solution is something that is less than attractive (one of those temporary paper blinds that can be adhered to the inside of the glass or a folding screen or fabric panel placed in front of the windows) adding it into your decor for a few days is worth it to help your guest relax.
Consider discussing what time they plan on getting up the next day just as you are turning in for the night. This conversation sends a message that you plan on giving them their space until that time. If you absolutely must get up and out earlier than they do, letting them know your schedule and ensuring them that you'll just be sneaking past quietly should help. A firm goodnight, sleep well, see you at breakfast tomorrow as you closing the door to your bedroom allows your guest to know that the more public space that they are staying in is now all theirs for the night. Try to avoid going in and out of your bedroom once you've settled in.
5. Lighting: Having to get up and turn off a light switch as you are drifting off to sleep is never fun, so if at all possible, placing a "bedside" light that can be turned on and off from the sofa/sofa bed is a helpful touch.
6. Bathroom & Kitchen Access: Make it clear that your guest should feel at home to use these rooms at any time and ensure that they have what they need, such as a set of towels, hairdryer, a water glass/carafe and a bowl of fruit on the counter for easily accessible midnight snacking.
7. Storage space: This can be a tough one to pull off, especially in a small space, but clearing counterspace in the bathroom for their toiletries bag, emptying a drawer or part of an accessible closet and clearing a surface or floor area to accommodate their suitcase will help keep things organized and let them know that you have planned ahead a bit and don't mind that their belongings are in full view.
8. Plug-in spots: Everyone travels with tech these days, so showing your guest where they can plug in is a nice touch. Knowing where they can set up a phone/camera/iPad charger and/or easily use their laptop (with the cord) is one small thing that helps avoid having your guest rooting around behind furniture late at night, feeling out of place.
9. Make a move: If appropriate, offer your bedroom to your guest and take up residence in the living room yourself. Sometimes this just feels right. Depending on the age of your guest, or the general "formality" of your relationship, this might be the way to go to make EVERYONE feel more comfortable. If you go this route, all of the above applies — make the temporary room as comfortable for yourself as you would for a guest!
10. Speak up: Simply let them know that you are happy they are there — it might feel like a given since you have opened up your home, but hearing it will help them to feel less like they are "in the way" and make the whole experience that much more lighthearted and enjoyable.
Image: Sarah Rainwater