Top tips to turn your spare bedroom into a haven for visitors…
Words: Sally Norton
Ideally, a guest bedroom has its own en-suite and is in a corner of your home where visitors can enjoy some peace, quiet and privacy. A comfortable bed with a good mattress is essential (check out And So To Bed, andsotobed.co.uk) and, if you have plenty of space, it’s nice to have an armchair and a small desk, too.
However, space can be an issue and many of us have rooms that also need to work as a study, family room or den. ‘By all means double up,’ says design and decorating doyenne Nina Campbell. ‘But if you want people to come and stay, your priority should be about providing a comfortable bed and surroundings for them.’
Nina knows all about creating wonderfully welcoming rooms for guests, and she is currently designing the bedrooms in the 5-star luxury Schlosshotel Kronberg in Germany. ‘We’re embarking on the Royal and Imperial Suites next,’ she says. With over 40 years of experience in interior design, she has plenty of advice for us on how to turn the simplest of spaces into calm, cosy guests rooms.
GET THE BASICS RIGHT
Nina advises opting for cotton or linen sheets, ironed for extra crispness. ‘I use white bed linen topped with blankets rather than bedspreads which can be too heavy,’ she says. ‘Make sure there’s an extra blanket to hand, too – perfect for cold nights and afternoon naps.’ She also advises you to splash out on top-quality towels and bathrobes for your guests as these can really bring a touch of luxury to the simplest bedroom.
PLENTY OF PILLOWS
‘Make up a double bed with four sleeping pillows – two firm and two soft – as well as two smaller baby pillows to prop up your head when reading,’ she says. ‘I don’t bother with dress pillows – they just get in the way and your guests will end up throwing them on to the floor.’
LET THERE BE LIGHT
‘My guest bed has LED lights built into the headboard,’ says Nina. ‘I also have a good lamp on either side of the bed.’ She stresses how important it is that bedside lamps are bright enough for reading – ‘lamps with dimmer switches are a good choice.’
A PLACE FOR CLOTHES
‘Keep some space sacrosanct for guests rather than filling every inch with your personal clutter,’ says Nina. ‘You must clear a drawer and some hanging space for your guests’ clothes. I provide three types of hangers – soft ones for dresses, clippy ones for skirts and trousers and good wooden ones for suits and jackets.This isn’t the time or place for the leftover wire ones from the dry cleaner.’
She suggests regularly checking on your guest room to ensure it’s ready to receive visitors at the drop of a hat, as there’s nothing worse than rushing around trying to tidy up when an unexpected guest arrives on your doorstep.
‘Assemble a few items on the bedside table,’ says Nina. As well as a nice clock and perhaps a few blooms in a small vase, she suggests you include a radio in the set-up because ‘it’s lovely to listen to the news or a show in the evening, especially if you’ve flown in from somewhere and are struggling with time changes.’ She advises against installing a television, though – ‘I think it gives your guests the message you want them to stay in their room.’
After you’ve provided the basic necessities, it’s always nice to offer some little extras to make your guests feel at home. ‘I leave a bottle of water and a glass on a tray as well as a hairdryer, an airline eye mask and a hot-water bottle for chilly nights,’ she says. ‘I usually provide a pair of nail scissors, too, for guests from overseas because you can’t carry them in your hand luggage anymore.’
Nina also suggests you leave your home’s Wi-Fi password in the room, so guests don’t have to trawl your house trying to find it. ‘Display it in a little frame and leave it on the bedside table so it’s easy to find,’ she advises.
Something to read is good, too. ‘I leave a couple of books for my guests – a collection of short stories by someone like Somerset Maugham is ideal. Most people do carry reading matter with them, but if you do forget, it’s so lovely to find a book.’
Nina suggests stocking up on lovely soaps for your guests, picking them up on your travels when you see something nice. ‘I like to pile a bowl with lots of mini bars of soap – it looks lovely and it’s not as wasteful as providing a big bar of soap for someone who is only staying for a day or two. And, I also think liquid soap is fine for wash basins as it’s clean and economical to use.’
You can presume that your guests will arrive with their own special toiletries, but Nina advises providing them with little extras like tissues, cotton wool and some cotton buds. ‘Little touches like this make people feel looked after,’ she says. Finally, when it comes to the décor of your guest room, Nina suggests that you’re adventurous. ‘It’s a great place to experiment with something a bit different you might not try elsewhere in your home,’ she says.
‘My guest room is wallpapered with one of my own Osborne & Little designs, soft lilac sprays that work well with the white linen in the room.’
You can learn more about Nina Campbell’s work at ninacampbellinteriors.com.
Marks and Spencer collection, marksandspencer.com
Zinia bedding from Kingsley, kingsleyhome.com