Home away from home: How to make your guests feel welcome, cozy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
You want a guest room to make your guest feel comfortable. Snacks, clean towels, a place for their clothes and cozy bedding are all good ways to greet an overnight visitor. Styled by Jamie Barnwell and Heather Collier. (Laura Simon)

When you have overnight guests, be they friends or family, it's important to make them feel welcome and comfortable -- otherwise, they could just stay at a hotel. We talked to interior designer Whitney Reed of Hutson's Fine Furniture and Pat Rappa, owner of the Wine Country Inn bed and breakfast, about how to make a guest room a cozy place for your visitors to relax and feel at home.

"I want guests to feel like (it's a) home away from home," Rappa says. "Make them feel comfortable with small little touches."

Here's more of their advice:

Clean towels

Make sure to have plenty of towels laid out for your guest, says Reed. At her B&B, Rappa says setting out towels -- she likes soothing colors and earth tones -- is part of making things "as comfortable as possible" for her guests. Reed suggests having some sort of luggage rack in the guest room where you can place the towels.

Small toiletries

Reed and Rappa agree: A good host provides a few essentials for guests. "It's typical of hotels, but you can turn it into a gift package (guests) can take with them," Rappa says. Include things like toothpaste, lotion, soap and shampoo.

Set the mood

"I always greet them with candles in the house and play classical music," Rappa says. And if your guests have had a long journey, consider providing snacks -- think cheese, crackers and sausage -- for them to snack on in their room. Reed says to make sure there is a clock in the room, too.

Getting cozy

You don't have to spend a fortune on bed linens, just make sure the bedding is fresh before your guests arrive. "Make sure there is a light blanket in case they get cold," Reed says.

Space for clothes

The guest room closet may seem like the perfect place to store out-of-season clothes, but Reed says to make sure there are hangers, and space, for your guest's clothes in the closet. If there is a chest of drawers in the room, keep a couple of those empty, too.