HOME DECOR Turning the guest room into the best room

The room was designed with a special visitor in mind.
GUILFORD, Conn. -- When Jennifer Newman created the guest room in her new Guilford home, she imagined her beloved sister-in-law, Lisa, resting there after a long day playing super-aunt to Newman's sons, ages 5 and 6.
"I put in a luxurious tufted chair and ottoman, it's very soft, like cashmina, in a soft blue," says Newman, who with designer Jennifer Walker is putting the finishing touches on the room.
"I put in reading materials, family photos of her and the kids. I put a TV in," Newman says. The room also features an adjoining private bath with blue toille wallpaper that matches the bedroom's decor.
While Newman and her husband, Doug, designed their guest suite with a special visitor in mind, the room's focus on comfort, privacy and convenience can be applied to any space where overnight guests might spend, says Walker, of Walker Interiors in Guilford.
Special touches
The rooms Walker creates often have luxurious amenities such as separate entrances and private baths. But many of the touches she adds can just as easily be employed for guests who might be bunking on the sleep-sofa or even on a blow-up mattress.
The first step is fairly simple, says Peggy Post, author of "Emily Post's Etiquette" (Harper Collins $39.95). "Make sure there's a comfortable place to sleep."
If the springs or folding mechanism make the sofa bed feel more like a torture rack, add one of the new miracle foam toppers to smooth out the mattress. Always supply clean sheets and pillowcases and extra pillows and blankets of various weights.
Test run
Post suggests that a host spend a night in the room before guests arrive to determine whether it is comfortable and what could be done to make it more so.
The guest room should have an alarm clock, a good reading light and space in a closet or dresser where the guest can store clothing. Tissues, a wastebasket, a water bottle or glass and perhaps some hotel-size toiletries are also important.
"I hate going into a house where there is one overhead light in the guest room," Walker says, emphasizing the importance of a reading light. But darkness, at the appropriate time, also is important. Walker says she likes room-darkening shades in the guest room to add to the feeling of security and allow for sleeping late.
Post adds that hosts should explain the home's daily routine, then offer guests the option of sleeping later, going to bed earlier or otherwise making themselves more comfortable.
"You should give them freedom; you don't have to be there on top of them all the time," Post says.
First impression
Mike Marti, owner of Merrywood, Conn., a bed and breakfast in Simsbury, said he creates that feeling of welcome and freedom the minute his guests enter the vestibule of his 1939 colonial revival inn.
"The first thing they see is a sign that says, 'Welcome John and Mary' to Merrywood," Marti says. Then, Marti and his wife, Gerlinde, give the guests a tour, encouraging them to make themselves at home in their bedroom and in the inn's public spaces.
Lisa Newman, Jennifer Newman's sister-in-law from Cincinnati, said she loves the welcome she receives at Jennifer and Doug's home.
A native of Fairfield County who recently moved to Ohio, Lisa Newman said she comes back often to monitor the growing up of her nephews, Jacob, 6, and Jared, 5.
But at the end of the day, she loves to snuggle into the guest room chair, which she describes as "this really furry, yummy soft fabric like polar fleece." She likes to settle in with a book, a luxury she only has time to indulge in on vacation.
Jennifer continues the pampering almost until bedtime, when she'll sneak into the guest room and spray the pillows with a lavender or other fresh-scented linen spray.
"I would never do that for myself," Lisa Newman says.

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