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Makings of a Great Guest Room

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera – The holiday season is a time when many of us receive overnight guests, and the experience can be wonderful one if their sleeping quarters are properly considered. Sleeping overnight in another person’s home can be delightful or a real drag, depending on the planning or lack of it that goes into the guest’s accommodations. I’ve experienced both situations.

The first time I was an overnight guest was as a senior in college when I was invited to join my roommate for a weekend in New York City where we were scheduled to stay with one of his best buddies.

Being from a small southern town, I had never been in a Manhattan apartment, but my expectations ran high because I had just seen a movie that showed the city digs of Doris Day as the very height of sophistication.

What I found instead was a five-story walk up in the East Village, long before it was chic, arriving breathlessly to a cold water flat, long since outlawed. My sleeping arrangements were on the floor in the space where the coffee table had been pushed away. I had only a blanket under me to prevent my bones from getting bruised on the hard floor. My buddy was luckier the first night because he got to sleep on the sofa, which our host proudly announced had been retrieved from the sidewalk. The second night, I got the sofa, but it was actually more uncomfortable than the floor.

To bathe, there was no shower, but rather a claw-footed bathtub, elevated on a platform across from a galley kitchen. When it was not in use, the tub was covered with a wooden top that served as the kitchen table. There’s nothing to compare with my memory of bathing in the tub while our host prepared scrambled eggs 18 inches away from me, and then to eat breakfast on top of the tub where I had just bathed. It wasn’t quite pooping where you eat, but not far off. Doris Day, where were you to the rescue?

I vowed that someday I would have my own place in the city and invite all my out-of-town friends to visit me with a stay over they would remember. After I married, my wife and I couldn’t afford to have an extra bedroom in our first apartment, at least we were able to offer a comfortable Castro Convertible in the living room. It wasn’t until we moved to the country that we were able to realize our dream of having a nice guest room.

I like visiting my retired brother- and sister-in-law in both their large homes, one in Florida and the other in Asheville, there is a separate guest suite. To stay with them is truly like a fabulous vacation. Not all of us can have a separate suite for guests, but we can compensate for it by providing other amenities that speak of comfort, convenience and luxury. For that, I consult with my wife Margaret who’s the ultimate homemaker and hostess. Her advice:

  • Fluffy new guest towels neatly folded on a corner of the bed or on a chair can make guests forget that they don’t have a private bathroom.
  • It’s nice to have some totally empty drawers in the room, if not an entire chest of drawers. Also there should be at least half a closet for hanging clothes. My wife likes to put attractive hangers in that space.
  • A comfortable easy chair with a reading light positioned for reading is always welcomed, along with an interesting selection of magazines and books. Guests are unlikely to read a whole novel while staying over, but they might enjoy the coffee table book variety that can be just scanned through for interest.
  • A bedside, lighted clock will be especially appreciated by guests in that, sometimes, you feel that time is altered when you’re not surrounded by the familiar trappings of home.
  • And like a hotel, you might add a couple of bottles of water and some packaged snacks, healthy and otherwise.
  • Of course, a television set or even a laptop on a desk is a great way to have your guests entertain themselves at least part of the time they’re with you.

Consider the advice above, but also keep in mind that too special a guest room may encourage guests to stay longer than you want. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s advice that: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”


While Bill Primavera has enjoyed careers as a journalist and publicist, he is now a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate, specializing in upper Westchester and Putnam Counties. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.


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