My husband and I recently returned from a long-awaited vacation to New Zealand to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary (yes—the scenery really is as spectacular as you imagine!) We stayed in four different hotels over the 12 days, and the designer in me couldn’t help but notice not only the room decor, but also the amenities provided to make us feel comfortable. Many of you will be hosting guests over the upcoming holiday season, and there also may even be some of you offering rooms in your home as Airbnbs. In this column, I thought I’d share some observations and ideas to prepare your home for guests. And I’ve provided a few shopping links below as well.

At the bedside

  • USB outlets on the nightstands. A really nice touch is to provide a charging station for cell phones and tablets. In one of our hotel rooms we had a small USB powerstrip right on the nightstand so we could have our phones nearby. As an alternative, check out the table lamps that have USB ports built in to the lamp base. This is a great idea, and one I’ve used in many bedroom design projects.
  • Water. Such a simple thing, but it was so nice to have a water bottle and a glass on each bedside table. It’s effortless for you, but a very welcome touch for your guests.
  • Reading lights. This can be in the form of table lamps or wall mounted lights. In many homes I go to, there is a ceiling light in the bedroom, but no table lamps. Your guests will thank you for providing additional lighting!

In the bathroom

Inevitably, guests forget one or two toiletry items, so, besides the obvious shampoo and soap, it’s nice to keep a basket or drawer in the bathroom for cotton balls, makeup remover, toothpaste, hand lotion. You might also consider a hairdryer, sunscreen,  shaving cream, a few bandaids, a nail file. Guests can sometimes feel shy about asking, so think ahead about things your guests might need. 

For the suitcase

Provide a bench at the end of the bed or a luggage rack for suitcases; living out of a suitcase can be uncomfortable enough, but having it on the floor and tripping over it makes it tougher. Also, make sure there are several hangers in the closet, and, ideally, a drawer or two, so guests can unpack some of their things and feel more comfortable.

Other comforts

  • One hotel provided robes and slippers to us. So nice!
  • Another hotel included an extra blanket in the closet so we didn’t have to call down to the front desk. 
  • A small thing, but I love when hotels provide a plastic bag for dirty laundry.
  • Offer a basket of snacks, an electric tea kettle and some tea bags, or a Keurig coffee maker, so guests can help themselves.
Of course, a comfortable bed is key! Nice linens, good quality pillows, and a pretty presentation will make for very happy guests. 

Some shopping links:


I got to know my client a few years ago while we worked on her kitchen remodel, and I was delighted when she asked me back to work on her guest bath. She knew what she wanted— a free-standing bath tub and vintage charm— and she asked me to put it all together for her.

While her original bath was certainly usable, it was old and tired, and there was nothing charming about it. My client did not care for the tile countertop, and the room lacked precious storage. So here’s what we did:

New Bathtub

We couldn’t add any square-footage to the bathroom, so I found a 56” wide free-standing tub and tub filler that just fit into the space. (My client affectionately calls it her “tea cup.”) To protect the walls from water, we used ceramic tile bead board wainscoting on all four walls. Not only is it functional in terms of water protection, but it is also beautiful and adds a lot of character to the space. The old-fashioned tub filler and hand shower complete the look.

Improved Storage

The old vanity cabinet did not provide adequate storage for my client. To replace it, I designed a custom vanity with a tilt-out beneath the sink and three drawers. I also selected a large wall cabinet with a combination of closed storage and open shelving, which can hold lots of toiletries and also provide display space.

New Lighting

The fluorescent lighting in the old bath was unsightly and inadequate. We added an LED vanity light above the sink, cut into a large mirror, to increase the light throughout the space.

Color Scheme

We kept the colors light, to visually maximize the space. The crisp white of the cabinetry, bath tub, toilet and wall tile is softened by the light blue-gray wall color and the gray and white mosaic floor tile. And the polished chrome fixtures are like jewelry in the room. The blue and cream toile fabric on the window treatment adds another element of softness and charm. The countertop continues the color scheme; it is a Cambria quartz counter named Torquay— with it, you get the look of marble without the maintenance.

The new bath is just what my client envisioned— modern amenities with a lovely vintage feel. She loves it and says she gets many compliments about the newly improved bath— that’s music to my ears.

Before Photos

After Photos