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The In-Laws are Coming. Is Your Guest Room Ready?

The in-laws are coming…

In case you haven’t noticed, the holidays are here. So the question is this — is your guest room ready? With all the commotion of the holidays, the decoration, the presents, the cards, it is all exhausting. The last thing you want to do is think about cleaning the guest room out for the family that is coming to stay. Sometimes you wish they would just stay at a hotel (sometimes it is wiser). But it isn’t always possible. Now you are thinking “I know they are coming but I don’t need to worry about the guest room yet." You may be wrong there. Think about it — what is worse than your world being turned upside down by your in-laws? How about your world being turned upside down by your CRANKY in-laws? That’s right. You want them happy and pleasant while they are there. But not so pleasant that they want to move in. This week I just wanted to cover a few tips to prepare your guest room for the holidays.

Firstly, if you haven’t opened the guest room up in a while, you should do so now. You don’t want your guests walking into a cloud of dust and cobwebs. After all, you are going to be helping them carry luggage, and with all the fussing, the last thing you want is to have to clean the room at the last minute. So get started now and give yourself time. While you are checking the bedclothes, ask yourself when you flipped your mattress last. My rule of thumb for a guest bed is to always flip it when your guests leave. That way, you always know it has been flipped or rotated.

After you have exhausted yourself with the dusting and vacuuming and cleaning, flop down on that cushy mattress and take a nap. (This is actually an important step). I can’t tell you how many times customers have come into our store and they are desperate to get a mattress delivered now because they didn’t know the mattress was “that bad." So reward your hard work with a nap. If you can’t get comfortable, ask yourself why. If the mattress is shot, then it's time to consider replacing it. If you think it is just too firm for you, maybe get a mattress topper, which we have at Pike’s Mattress, that your guests can add to the top if they think it is too firm. Don’t forget to check the bed to see if it squeaks or, heaven forbid, cracks. No one wants to flop down on a bed only to have it break because it was old and weak.

While you're at it, don’t forget the pillows, which are also available at Pike’s Mattress. If the pillows are old and yucky or flat, replace them. If they are still clean but too flat or too firm, then replace them but hang on to them. Again, toss it in the closet just in case your guest likes a firm or flat pillow. I usually recommend offering three pillow styles or a pillow that can be converted in three different ways so you can accommodate different sleepers. Don’t go too crazy. Don’t call your guests and ask them what kind of pillow or mattress they want. After all, you don’t want them to move in. You want them comfortable while they are there, but you want them to desire to go home when the visit is over. So make it's just comfortable enough not to gripe about, but don’t indulge their every comfort. Let’s call this a step below the “Goldilocks” of pillows and mattresses.

Now on to the closets and dressers. You know the ones I am talking about — the ones you crammed all that stuff into because you didn’t know where else to put it. Nothing makes a guest feel more uncomfortable than opening their suitcase only to have nowhere to put their things. So make sure you cleared out some closet space for them. You don’t have to clear everything out, but give them at least a drawer or two and at least half of the closet. While you are at it, hang an air freshener in the closet so it doesn’t smell like that gym bag that you've stored there for the last few months.

Speaking of scents — I know that scent preferences are a tricky thing, but that doesn’t mean you should let the room just smell like stale air. If you have pets, there is almost certainly an odor, you don’t realize it because you don’t smell it yourself — but I guarantee someone else may. So a little air freshener or a few drops of essential oils like rose or cinnamon would be a nice touch. If they are your in-laws, check with your spouse and find out if there are any fragrance allergies before you commit to this step. I like to take a drop of cinnamon or rose essential oil on a cotton ball and dab it on the light bulbs then tuck the cotton ball away in some little nook or behind a picture frame. You can also spray a light pillow spray on the top comforter. Be careful that you don’t pick scents that are too stimulating. It is tempting to use peppermint during the holidays, but I find it keeps more people awake. Lavender is another great scent that is supposed to help calm, relax, and promote sleep. But be careful with it, as not everyone, myself included, likes a lot of lavender. Avoid using perfumes, unless you know the guest uses a specific scent, and even then, be conservative.

Next, we look at the bathroom situation. If you are lucky enough to have a guest bathroom, simply tidy up and you are good to go. If, however, you are sharing the guest room with your guests, make sure you come up with a shower/bath schedule. Make sure your guests have their own towels readily available. Don’t make them beg for towels! After all, you want them happy and not irritable. On the other hand, you don’t want them to have you running at their beck and call every time they need a towel like you are room service or a maid or something. Again, you want them comfortable during their stay and happy when they leave. You don’t want them to move in.

One of the things pet parents never think about is the guests’ preferences to the pet. I love my fur-babies. They are part of my family. I talk to them like they are people (hey, cats are people too). But your guests may not like animals or may not like your animals as much as you do. First, don’t take it personally. Some people just don’t get along with certain people. That rule applies to animals too. That said, make the guest room part of your guests’ personal space. Close it off before they arrive and make sure your pets are not in there. When your guests arrive, tell them you can keep the door closed so the pets don’t go in if they would like. Don’t ask them if they want the animals in the room because that puts them in an awkward position of saying “I really don’t like your cat” or “sure, I don’t mind that smell at all” or some other comment that could lead to an uncomfortable moment. Instead, offer to keep the door closed so the animals don’t get in. That way, if they choose to leave the door open and let the animal in, it is their choice.

I thought this should go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway. When you have guests staying in your guest room, remember that it is their space for the time being. Give them some respect. Knock and wait for a reply before entering. Don’t go in the room when they aren’t there (even if it is to replace the towels).

Now, if you don’t have a guest room but are instead playing musical chairs to move people around to make room for family, see if there is an alternative. Nothing upsets family harmony like making two kids share a room that don’t really want to. See if you can convert the den/office into a guest room. I like using unused space. I like to put a smaller bed under my bed to store for a guest room mattress. You can almost always store a twin bed under your bed regardless of your bed size. Slide a mattress under your bed, and when you need it, drag it to the den for a make-shift guest room. Just make sure laying the mattress on the floor is safe for your guests to get up and down. If it isn’t easy to accomplish, stop in and talk to us about some of our fold-able platform beds. They are better than the old roll-away beds and can look stylish when you throw a bedskirt on them.

If you have to move one child to another child’s room, make sure you set clear ground rules for both children before your guests arrive. Set fair and equal punishment or repercussions if they violate the rules. Again, family harmony is essential. This way, the upset child doesn’t go running to their favorite parent to get their way. For those of you that are offended by me saying that kids have a favorite parent, you need to wake up because we all know that almost all kids bond with one parent differently (or at least can get their way with one parent) more often than the other.

Whew, okay, so we have covered the mattress, pillows, closets, bathrooms, and makeshift beds. I feel like I am forgetting something… oh wait, the linens. It sounds stupid but you need to WASH THEM. So many people don’t think about that. Have you ever climbed into bed after a long trip only to be suffocated by dust in an unfamiliar setting? Wash the sheets, blankets, comforters/quilts, pillows, and pillowcases. If they are scratchy or worn out, replace them. Don’t make your guests feel like they are a step above sleeping in the dog's bed (okay, another shameless plug here because I love our selection of dog beds and we can custom make them too at Pike's Mattress).

The number one rule of preparing a guest room is this: PREPARE the guest room before they get there. Don’t wait until the day before or even the week before. Start now. Don’t put it off until the last minute because you will be so tired and irritable from all the cleaning that you may take it out on your guests. Again, you want happy guests.