How to make your guests feel at home — when you don’t have a guest room

Fresh cut flowers. A clothing rack. Chocolate. In the race to get ready for the holidays, it’s easy to forget that it doesn’t take much to make overnight guests feel welcome. Recognizing that a dedicated guest room is a luxury, we invited several Los Angeles interior designers to offer pointers on how to make your overnight guests feel welcome – even if you don’t have a guest room.

Fresh cut flowers from your garden can make overnight guests feel at home. Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Bullard’s celebrity clients include Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Cher and Ellen Pompeo, among others. In addition to his own line of furnishings and accessories, he has designed collections for Schumacher, Ann Sacks and the Rug Co.

Instant bed — It is always important to make your guests feel welcomed, even if you don’t have a designated guest room for them to use. Instead of the sofa, buy a plug-in, blow-up mattress. There are many good models that are easy to find online. This way, you make your guests feel more at home, and it frees up the sofa for sitting!

Toiletries — Keep a wash bag for your guests, filled with private supplies like a new toothbrush, travel-size toothpaste and mouthwash, and if you’re lucky enough to stay in a nice hotel recently, add the hotel swag too, including the mini shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, guest soap, and even the guest slippers!

Water — Leaving two bottles of water bedside, one flat and one sparkling, is a must. Make sure you leave out a selection of healthy snacks for those late night jet-lag feasts, and add a small bar of chocolate for the ultimate treat.

Bedding — Keep a freshly laundered set of sheets for your guests to use, and two pillows, one feather and one synthetic, in case your guests have allergies.

Bedside tableau — If your guest is lucky enough to be sharing your bed with you, make sure you create their bedside action complete with a water carafe, a favorite scented candle, a small bunch of flowers in a favorite color, relaxing lavender pillow spray to induce a restful sleep, your latest favorite read and of course, a small wrapped chocolate indulgence.

Coffee buzz — Last but not least, make sure your guests know where the coffee machine and all its required amenities are, so in the morning they can get their caffeine fix without waking you up to serve them!

Aubrie Pick

Along with husband Robert, Novogratz has designed furniture and accessories for CB2, the Shade Store and Walmart. The Novogratzes have also designed and developed several unique residential and commercial properties nationwide.

Sleeper sofa — Believe it or not, futons and sleeper sofas have come a long way. We have several designs and we use them in a couple of rooms in our homes. Our Brittany Sleeper Sofa [shown above] is our new favorite; it's small enough that it's not obtrusive when it's acting as a sofa, and it opens up to be a twin bed for your guest.

Literature — Reading material is a must. Stop and think about who your guest is and what they enjoy - if it's my mother-in-law, I'll throw a few shelter magazines on the side table.

Accessories — A lamp, a candle, and extra throw are always nice.

Bedding — Keep a freshly laundered set of sheets for your guests to use, and two pillows, one feather and one synthetic, in case your guests have allergies.

Towels — Even if your guest must go into the hall to shower, put fresh towels on the bed or sofa to make them feel welcomed.

Coat rack — If the space doesn't have a closet, be sure to have a coat rack near your guest's space so they can hang clothes.

Flowers — Don't forget fresh cut flowers. Something as simple as greenery from your yard can make your guest feel special.


Author of the recent book “The New Bohemians Handbook,” Blakeney shares her bohemian aesthetic daily on her popular blog, the Jungalow. She has also designed furniture and accessories for Living Spaces, Target and Pottery Barn.

Multipurpose furniture — Just like a hotel room, you'll want to make the room (be it a guest room or a spare sofa in your den) conducive to multiple activities such as using a small table that can double as a desk and eating area, or a trunk at the end of the bed that can be used as extra seating and also hold clean towels and extra linens.

Load up on towels — What is it about traveling that makes us go through towels like a box of tissues? Most people don't think to pack a towel as they're used to being provided one. Make sure there are plenty of clean towels available for your guests to use, and make it clear which ones they can feel free to use.

The little things — Providing your guests with travel size shampoo, conditioner and soap is thoughtful and super useful. Packing your own shampoo and conditioner can be a hassle when traveling so this small gesture will make a huge difference.

Locals only — When someone is visiting from out of town and not familiar with your area, it's really helpful to have a collection of books, magazines and maps in your area. This gives them the freedom to explore on their own, instead of looking to you as a personal tour guide.

Personal touches — Add a few personal touches like fresh cut flowers, a candle, a bottle of bubbly to make your guest feel extra welcome.

Joy Cho

Author of the book “Oh Joy!: 60 Ways to Create & Give Joy,” Cho shares daily design inspiration on her blog Oh Joy.

Clothing rack — When you’re preparing for guests, make them feel at home (or feel like they are at a very hip boutique hotel) by keeping a small clothes rack nearby. They’ll feel more comfortable when they don’t have to live out of a suitcase and can unpack during their stay. Also, a tray with some comforting items like tea and a small treat welcomes with a smile!

Temp nightstand — If you’re short on space and need to turn a couch or lounge area into a temporary guest room, make it feel a bit more cozy by adding one simple extra touch. A side table or small bench can serve as a temporary nightstand for an evening cup of tea and a place for personal belongings come bedtime.

Jean Randazzo

The author of “Vintage Remix: The Interiors of Kishani Perera,” the Los Angeles interior designer has worked with Molly Sims and Gary Oldman, among others.

Double duty — I like to use pieces that serve multiple functions. For example, my former home office served as a guest bedroom as required — my sofa was a sleeper sofa, and many of my decorative storage pieces (trunks, ottomans, bookcases) doubled as areas to house extra bedding and pillows and toiletries for my guests. Since space comes at such a premium these days, not many people can afford to underutilize even an inch of their homes for the occasional guest. Whether a home office, or even a living room, investing in pieces that can double as a bed, dresser, linen closet, is key!

Meridith Baer

Baer offers staging, luxury furniture leasing and private interior design nationwide.

Create luxury — Those without a proper guest room in their home can turn their sofa into a cozy bed for guests by making it up with freshly laundered sheets, down comforters and soft feather pillows. Go the extra step to make guests feel as if they're staying at a five-star resort by placing a chocolate on their pillow before bed. Additionally, outfit your guests with silk sleep masks to make sure they are able to get an excellent night's sleep, even in a room soon to be filled with bright morning light.

Grooming goods — Stock your bathroom with fresh, fluffy white towels and toiletries in pretty packaging. Be sure to keep extra essentials on hand, such as shaving razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste to ensure that your guests are fully accommodated during their stay.

Wardrobe help — If your guest room boasts some spare closet space, provide your travelers with clothes hangers to use during their stay. An inexpensive, compact handheld steamer is also incredibly handy for guests whose clothes have gotten wrinkled in transit.

Create a tranquil mood — Traveling is often stressful, so ensure that when your guests arrive they feel as if they can immediately relax. Keep bottled sparkling and flat water on hand to refresh tired travelers, and create a calming aesthetic by lighting a scented candle and playing soft background music.

Lavender offers a sweet welcome to overnight guests. Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

The English-born interior designer’s A-list clients include Steve Martin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Mamet.

Daybed — I have a great daybed in my home that I use for guest overflow.

Luxurious bedding — Fab bedding makes up for no privacy; I suggest a four-ply cashmere throw.

Dimmers — Lamps on dimmers are a must, always have one left on low to avoid any accidents in the night.

Make room — Make space in a cupboard for guest’s cloths and suitcase – request that your guest bring hand luggage only!

Books — Reading material, whether it be a selection of recent magazines or a good book, is a nice touch.

Lavender — Leave a lavender sachet on the guest’s pillow or by their bed. Better yet, fresh flowers. It instantly freshens up the guest’s space.

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