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Refreshing the guest room

  • Luxurious-looking linens can make guests feel pampered at your home. Carla Choy / Washington Post

  • Fresh flowers add color and fragrance to a guest room. MUST CREDIT: Julia Sperling, Decorist Julia Sperling—The Washington Post


Washington Post
Friday, December 28, 2018

Jessica Ann McCarthy, creative director of the digital design firm Decorist, joined staff writer Jura Koncius on The Washington Post’s Home Front online chat and offered guest room refresh tips for the holidays. Here is an edited excerpt.

Some of my relatives expect a full set of drawers and ample closet space when they visit. What do you think is a reasonable amount of storage space in a guest room?

I think you should always provide at least one drawer and five hangers for your guests. You can even buy hangers on which you can hang multiple shirts or pants/skirts.

I want my guests to feel right at home. What are some of your favorite personal touches for a guest room?

Providing smart technology around the room is a great way to make your guests feel at home. For example, add phone chargers on either side of the bed, a sound machine to drown out noise, an air purifier or even an iPad for your guests to check emails and browse the Internet when they wake up.

What do you do if you don’t have a guest room?

Even if you don’t have a guest room, there are ways to provide comfort anywhere in your home. For example, you can purchase a sleeper sofa for your living room and provide your guests with fresh linens and towels.

The closet in my guest room is packed with all my offseason apparel. Should I try to make room for my guests’ clothes in the closet or do you have any clever ideas as to where my guests can stash their things?

I think in general it is great idea to store offseason apparel under your bed in bins rather than in drawers or your closet where the space is really valuable. You can get many sizes and shapes for under-the-bed bins.

Our guest room is pretty bare. What are some touches you would recommend to make guests feel extra welcome or comfortable?

When I designed the guest room for the Real Simple Home, I made sure to have a glass and carafe on the side table (in my mind, it’s a must). I also love fresh flowers and leaving a few of my favorite books out for my guests to enjoy. I also provide fresh linens, towels and robes. None of these items are expensive but will instantly make your space feel like a luxury hotel.

I’m looking to paint my guest bedroom. I want something that’s gender-neutral and makes an impact. Can you recommend some of your favorite paint colors? Should I paint all four walls or focus on one wall only?

With guest bedrooms, I always recommend tones of gray, blue or lavender to create a calming feel. If you’re painting your entire space, I love soothing paint colors such as Farrow & Ball’s Elephant’s Breath, Cornforth White and Lamp Room Gray. If you choose to go for a deeper or darker tone, I recommend one accent wall behind your bed to create impact without overwhelming the space.

Is there any way to update wall-to-wall carpeting in a condo short of completely replacing it? Could I just replace the carpet in the two bedrooms and put in hardwood in the living area?

I always recommend replacing wall-to-wall carpet when you can, especially if it’s old and dated. Rather than spending the money to replace carpet with more carpet, I recommend an area rug instead. You can get a large-size area rug (9-by-12- or 8-by-10-foot) at a great price these days. You can even layer an area rug over existing wall-to-wall carpet if you are unsure how the flooring underneath is going to look.

As a guest, when I leave, should I take the sheets off the bed and make the bed, or ask my host what to do with the sheets?

I always strip the bed and leave the bedding on top of the mattress. This is also a good lesson: When creating a guest room always provide your guests with a hamper.

I think a luggage rack is a must in a guest room; otherwise they are left to root through their suitcase on the floor and it’s a mess. Do you agree?

I completely agree! I love the idea of a stylish acrylic luggage rack, a multifunctional luggage rack or a vintage luggage rack.

We recently converted our home office into a guest room, where my in-laws are planning to stay for the holidays. What should we do to make the room feel more stylish?

My number one tip is to provide your guests with comfortable and fresh sheets, pillows, a duvet, etc. Once you have the basics, layer in art, decorative pillows, throw blankets, area rugs and lighting.