What every guest room should have
1. A comfy place to sleep
This isn't as obvious as it sounds. Because space is limited in many homes, the room in which guests sleep may also serve as a home office, exercise room or living room. If you plan to put guests in there occasionally, make sure they have a clean, uncluttered and comfortable place to sleep. It doesn't have to be a traditional bed; a wall bed, sleeper sofa, futon, or even a good-quality inflatable bed can send guests comfortably off to dreamland.
2. Reading lamps
Often overlooked in rooms that serve other uses, well-placed reading lamps can make the difference between an uncomfortable experience and a restful night. If space is limited, floor lamps are fine, and the lamps don't have to match. Just make sure there's one on each side of the bed if you're hosting a couple.
3. Selection of reading material
Many people enjoy reading before sleep, so offer a few books or magazines your guest might enjoy. If you know in advance what your guests like to read, make a trip to the library before they arrive.
4. Cozy bathrobes
In most homes guests share a bathroom with other household members, and bathrobes come in handy for those trips down the hall. But bathrobes take up precious luggage space, and many people choose to leave them at home. Problem solved, if you provide one-size-fits-all terrycloth robes that you can wash and reuse for each guest. Over-the-door hooks provide a convenient place to hang the robes, and can be removed when they're no longer needed.
5. Space for clothing
Ideally, you have space for guests to unpack and put their clothing in a drawer and closet, and you've provided a selection of padded and unpadded hangers. But if space is limited or no closet is nearby, luggage racks are handy, and they fold away when they're not needed. Even a small table can be put to good use, and it will help your guests avoid backaches from trying to access their luggage on the floor.
6. Crisp cotton sheets
Whether you offer guests a luxurious mattress or your secondhand sofa, their sleeping experience will be much better with crisp all-cotton sheets. Many stores offer coordinated sheets, blankets and comforters, or you can buy a bed-in-a-bag at a discounted price. Solid colors and understated prints are the most elegant.
7. Extra pillows and a blanket
The general rule for guest pillows is two per person, plus at least one extra pillow or bolster they can use to prop up comfortably for reading. Test the combination yourself to make sure you have enough. Some people like to be warmer at night, so have an extra lightweight blanket nearby in case it's needed.
8. Room-darkening shades or curtains
If you never sleep in your guest room, you may not know that those lovely sheer curtains don't offer much privacy -- nor do they block street lights and moonlight. Add room-darkening shades, blinds or curtains to help your guests get restful sleep.
9. MP3 player or clock radio
Many people enjoy listening to music or talk radio, so give your guests those options by having a clock radio by the bedside, or an MP3 speaker/clock combo that will tell time and allow them to listen to their favorite music. Another benefit: if unfamiliar noises make it hard to sleep, a little background noise will help your guests feel more relaxed.
10. Little spa touches
If your decorating budget allows for a few extras, place a vase of fresh flowers next to the bed, along with a carafe of cool drinking water and a glass. Have a small selection of bath products on hand, including soap, shampoo and conditioner. And this spa touch is guaranteed to bring a smile: one beautifully wrapped chocolate, placed on the pillow. Little touches like these don't have to cost much, and they will make your guests feel special.