Why Not . . . Welcome Houseguests with Style?
Wednesday August 15, 2012

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Since I am traveling, I have traveling posts on the brain, so I have yet another guest post focused on how to be a hostess and make sure your guests feel welcomed, comfortable and able to relax.

I have been patiently waiting to introduce today’s guest post. You may already know her if you are regular reader of House Beautiful or have read past issues of Veranda.

I first learned about Frances Schultz through her regular contributing articles in House Beautiful where she would reveal room by room her remodeled Bee Cottage in East Hampton (have a look here, here, here, and here). As the former editor-at-large of Veranda magazine, a contributing editor to House Beautiful and having appeared on top television programs such as The Today Show and The Nate Berkus Show, Frances was kind enough to share her tips and expertise on how to be a grand hostess for stay-over guests with The Simply Luxurious Life.

Be sure to stop by her blog Frances Schultz to enjoy her fantastic sense of humor, endlessly impressive decor advice and personal touch to living a lovely life.

~On Guest Rooms and Guests – a Guide for the Hostess~

Summer travelers means summer company. The more desirous your location, the more likely is having houseguests. Funny how that works.

Decorating aside, a welcoming, comfortable guest room can be created with the simplest of luxuries, even if the room is tiny, as it is at Bee Cottage, my house in East Hampton. What’s involved is more effort than expense, but it is easily accomplished. The simple ritual of preparing for company is one I find oddly satisfying. It may have to do with my mother.

A thoughtfully prepared guest room conveys kindness, caring, respect, and even love. When I was away at school and came home for holidays – I wasn’t company of course – but my darlin’ Mama always had fresh flowers in my room. Nothing elaborate, a few roses or a single ginger lily. She saw to it that everything was fresh and fluffed up, and she always put several magazines by the bed, and sometimes a book or memento of something she’d enjoyed and wanted to pass along. She did this for our houseguests, too, naturally, and I’ve simply followed behind her.

1. As for the visit itself, before your guests arrive give them an idea of the schedule they can expect. If it is a weekend stay what activities are involved and what sort of clothes they’ll need. If their arrival and departure times need to be confirmed, do so now. It’s nice also to convey a general idea of your and your family’s routine. Do you meditate in the morning? Go to a spin class? Do you or your children take a nap or have quiet time in the afternoon? All good to know.

2. When they arrive give them time to unpack and settle in before you launch them into the breach.

3. Have fun.

4. Before bedtime, let everyone know the morning drill. I tend toward the basic, organizing the night before and then getting up early to make the coffee and tea, putting out some fruit or berries, and croissants or toast. This way guests may graze at their leisure without me hovering. I’ll also leave newspaper or two, sometimes with a note as to my morning schedule or whereabouts if it is before 9. You may surmise that while I am an early riser, I am not an early chatter. Guests are free to ease into the day on their own. Sometimes on a weekend it’s nice to take the low-maintenance route on Saturday and then have a proper breakfast or brunch on Sunday, with everyone sitting around the table re-capping the previous days’ hijinks. “Downloading” a friend of mine calls it. Gossip, I call it.

How to Make it Lovely:

5. Luggage rack or ottoman for their bag. So they can put it somewhere other than the floor.

6. A chair or something to sit on other than the bed. I am violently opposed to sitting on the bed, but that’s me and my pretty blanket covers I don’t want you to mess up.

7. Closet and drawer space. If the closet and or chest of drawers is not empty, be sure to clear space for them, and provide a few hangers. Matching wooden and padded hangers are nice. Shame on your guests if they pinch them.

8. Towels. If guests are using a shared bath, put two towels, a hand towel and a bathcloth in a neat stack on their bed. If the bath is en suite of course you’ll put them in the bath and on the towel racks.

9. Soap. Put a fresh guest soap by the sink and a fresh bar in the shower or tub. It’s also nice to have a small shampoo, conditioner and bath gel on hand. I nick them from hotels I stay in just for this reason.

10. Flowers. A small bunch of flowers or a single stem by the bed and in the bathroom is a lovely gesture.

11. Reading material. A current magazine or two, or books about the neighborhood or region you live in.

12. An alarm clock. Everyone has mobile devices these days, but it’s still nice to have and easier to keep an eye on when they’re getting dressed.

13. Just-In-Case. A small basket or shelf in the medicine cabinet with disposable razor, sewing kit, small scissors, tampons, Bandaids, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss. Having it all in one easy place keeps you from hunting it down–invariably when it is least convenient–or worse, having to run out and fetch it, in which case you will want to shoot the guest-in-need. Justifiable homicide.

14. By the bed, a small pitcher or carafe of water and a glass. Or a commercial bottled water, though I find this less genteel.

15. A little sign or card posted somewhere with the house’s Wi-Fi network and password, and to be extra thoughtful, instructions for printing from their device to your home printer. Although for me the simplest thing is to have them email it to me with “Please Print” in the subject line and I do it for them.

The following are nice to have but not mandatory. You’re not trying to be Ian Schraeger for heaven’s sake.

16. A cotton or terrycloth robe is a simple and thoughtful luxury. Double shame on your guests if they take them, which I cannot imagine, but I actually know someone this happened to. I couldn’t help but wonder why the little kleptos were invited in the first place.

17. Pad and pen.

18. Scented candle and matches.

19. Small basket of goodies–nuts, cookies, a bit of chocolate.

20. iPod dock and/or television, with printed instructions on how to work the remotes.

Sweet dreams.

~Below are a few images Frances shared with The Simply Luxurious Life of one of her guest rooms.~

~It’s old fashioned but awfully nice to have a guest room with twin beds. Lovers will always find a way to snuggle if they want to. Meanwhile is it’s you and your figity sister, you’ll both be comfortable.~

~Each bed has its own lamp with a bulb bright enough to read by. Woven rope cubes hold reading material — books about the Hamptons and current magazines.~

~Each bed has two pillows for sleeping, a decorative box pillow, and a bolster.~

~The tiny guest room does not allow for a dresser, but drawers in the hall just outside serve the purpose. They are painted in Benjamin Moore Tudor Brown, high gloss, to look more like furniture and less like built-ins. lined in a lavender-scented paper. The framed corals echo the room’s blue and dress up the otherwise non-descript pass-through space.~

~The guest bath is a nice size but a funny shape and with the roof coming in at an awkward angle. Stripes are a great disguiser and give the room the feeling of a striped beach cabana. The blue is the same Benjamin Moore Galapagos Turquoise used in the guest room itself, so the two feel connected even though the bath is not en suite. There are also plenty of towels, a new soap, a cup for guests’ toothbrushes, and a drinking glass.~

~A pitcher of water and one or two glasses is put out before guests arrive and re-plenished throughout their stay. A little vase of fresh flowers – nothing fancy – is always a welcoming, homey touch.~

~The lavender wands are mementoes from France, and lavender is relaxing, not to mention heavenly.~


~Like what you read? Follow Frances on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and subscribe to her blog here.~

12 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Welcome Houseguests with Style?

  1. Shannon – this was just lovely of you, and thank you Cara and Thomas. Sorry I am a bit late to the Comments party because – we’ve been so busy with – guess what – houseguests!!! Welcome home from your wonderful trip! xo Frances

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