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We’ve all been there:  You go to visit friends or family and end up feeling like you were an afterthought on their agenda, your bed some cot in an otherwise storage-room and you conclude your visit suspecting they are breathing a sigh of relief to see you go.

Of all the things our overnight guests should feel, welcomed, prepared for and wanted are just a few.  It is essential we put some thought and effort into our guest rooms.  They should feel like homey, comfortable, relaxing oases into which our guests can melt.  They should be spaces that convey, “We are so happy you are here and we have prepared this retreat just for you!”

On top of the necessities (i.e. comfortable bed, dresser, mirror) here are our top five guest room essentials to get you started on preparing a home-away-from-home for your invitees.

  1. Beautiful comfy bedding: A really nice down-duvet goes a long way to adding comfort to any bedroom, but especially to a guest room. If you don’t have an extra duvet or can’t afford a new one for the space then consider using an heirloom quilt or an afghan in a pretty pattern. Whatever you choose to use in the space make sure the sheets are luxurious and the covers warm. Also think about gender neutral designs. You want to make sure the room is as comfortable for men as it is for women.
  2. A writing desk: It’s always hospitable to offer your guests a place to sit down and write a letter or get a little work done where they are away from the rest of the house and not feeling like they are imposing. A pretty little writing desk makes a nice addition to the room. Don’t have a desk? Then consider a sofa table along the wall. Just make sure it sits a comfortable 28”-30” high and that you provide a chair that will accommodate not only the height, but also the depth of the piece.
  3. Good stationary: It is always frustrating to be at someone else’s home and not have a piece of paper and a pen with which to jot a note. Providing your guests with a well-stocked desk is both thoughtful and hospitable. If you have time prior to their visit you may consider ordering stationary with their monograms on it. This is a surprise bonus for your guest and serves as a little welcome gift they can take with them.
  4. Luxe hangers: We love velvet covered thin hangers. These are quite wonderful! Your clothes hang beautifully on them without slip-sliding off. They also have graceful contours that won’t give you those unsightly 80’s rock-band pointy shoulders. Your guests will appreciate that you included such a luxury item in their room.
  5. An apothecary jar full of trial size essentials: Don’t make your guests uncomfortable by needing to ask if you have any toothpaste or dental floss because they forgot theirs; provide them with the essentials all in one place. Fill an apothecary jar with all different trial size necessities: toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, etc. Not only will they appreciate that they won’t need to go looking for these items, but it will also give them the since of a five-star hotel that has catered to their every wish without asking.

In short, you have guests coming, make them feel wanted and cared for and they will thoroughly enjoy the stay and leave with warm thoughts of their visit.

Guest room essentials

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Cats and dogs are our four-legged extended-family members.  We want what is best for them and we love them like they were our own blood-kin.  That said, they can prove as challenging to live with as any toddler of the human-form and decorating around them just might be even more discouraging.

As interior designers we are called daily to make a house a home.  We do this by talking to the family or persons living in the space we are being asked to design.  We deal with the needs of the adults and little ones of the household, but we must also consider the furrier of the ‘children’.  If a home has residents of the canine or feline variety then we must also make the house a home for them.

This is where it can get tricky though, as most ‘pet-friendly’ décor items are not very design worthy.  Hard plastic pet crates, smelly open-topped litter boxes, and chew toys galore are anything but pretty.  We therefore have taken some time to sit down and come up with some alternative options for these pet dictated necessities while not forgoing great design.

Flooring: We know that wall-to-wall carpeting is just not the best option for a home with four-legged, furry pets.  Carpets harbor bacteria, dirt, dust, parasites, and hair.  They wear out quickly when a pet takes the same path with dirty paws over and over again.  If changing your carpet out for hardwood/laminate flooring is just not an option right now, think about investing in a carpet cleaner that you can use to better clean up those pet stains.  If you already have hard flooring or will be changing your flooring in the future then you may consider an indoor/outdoor area rug instead of a traditional wool variety.  They wear well, come in a beautiful variety of colors and patterns and can be taken outside and hosed down when needed.

Pet crates: We cruised the internet and found a whole bevy of crate alternatives that are both functional and beautiful.  The one we located on ATGStores.com resembles fine furniture and can double as a side table.

Litter boxes: Nothing is worse than seeing an open topped litter box sitting in a bathroom (or any other room).  The best option for any litter box is to move it to the garage.  If you have a door that leads from your home to the garage, just install a cat-door in it and voila your kitty litter troubles are solved.  If this is not an option though there are a variety of out-of-sight litter boxes out there that are both attractive and functional.  Like the model we found online at Lampsplus.com (of all places) that functions as a bench, but has access for your cat to enter from one end.

Leash storage:  We found lots of adorable leash hooks and storage, but fell in love with this one donning cats we found on Amazon.com.   We love its cast iron look and who wouldn’t think those kitties were just adorable?

Pet feeding bowls:  No reason to shirk style for function here.  We found these fabulous pedestaled feeding bowls on InTheCompanyofDogs.com.  They are very stylish and come in a variety of heights for your pets.

Pet Toys:  Use a pretty basket or a hammered-metal fire-wood box to store all these little well-chewed gems away from site.  We understand that pets need toys too, but we don’t need to see the slobbery things lying around.

In short, just because you live with furry, slobbery, shedding family members, your abode can still be stylish, decorated and well-designed  while providing a ‘home’ for all the members of your family.

Dogs and cats blog photo

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