Stick to soft colours – but dare to be different
For some people the word ‘neutral’ conjures up images of soft, subtle taupe and rich fawn, but others are more likely to associate it with boring beige and the ubiquitous magnolia of rented apartments. A guest room benefits from being painted a gentle colour which won’t give your guests a headache, but feel free to branch out beyond the dreaded beige: try a pale summery blue for a seaside feel, or a warm, soft gold in a south-facing bedroom. Neutral doesn’t have to be dull.
Furnish for maximum flexibility
You may not have guests queuing round the block at all times, but you can’t possibly predict who you’ll be entertaining in the future so expect the unexpected. Unless space is a real issue, always opt for a double bed – wooden beds tend to look classy and suit every décor style – and ensure it’s low enough for infirm visitors to get in and out of with ease. Choose bedside lights with obvious switches (no fumbling for a cord before discovering it switches off at the wall) and opt for blinds instead of curtains so your guests can choose how much light they’d like in the morning.
Sufficient storage – and don’t fill cupboards with your overflow
As a guest, there are few things more disconcerting than opening a cupboard to hang up a suit and discovering half the host’s wardrobe in there! It’s always tempting to capitalise on the unused storage spots in your home, but take the purpose of the spare room into consideration: it’s a room for visitors to stay in, not a dumping ground for your overflow. Keep wardrobes and bedside cabinets empty – aside from thoughtful additions such as coat hangers and a box of tissues for the bedside cabinet – and limit your spare-room storage to your top cupboards, or a blanket chest at the end of the bed.
Remember they won’t know the layout
If your guest comes downstairs and asks you where they can charge their phone, it’s quite possible they’ve already been looking for a plug socket for some time before summoning up the courage to ask. The layout of the rooms in your house will have been established through a mixture of necessity (furniture that can’t be moved, a desk which fits nowhere else in the house) and personal choice (the dressing gown hooks go inside the wardrobe, not on the back of the door), but it’s important to view it through the eyes of a visitor, too. Make it clear where they can store or hang their things, how the blinds work and where they’ll find spare blankets and pillows. Above all, make sure everything is accessible to all: ensure that plug sockets are obviously located, or add extension leads to make sure your guests will spot them.