Michael Graham’s top tips to a guest-ready spare room

Spending the holidays with loved ones is what Christmas is all about for us here at Michael Graham. So if you’re organising get-togethers and have family or friends staying over, think about preparing the spare room sooner rather than later.

The festive period can quickly become a time warp and before you know it your in-laws/friends you haven’t seen all year will be on the doorstep and you’ll be scurrying upstairs to change the spare bed. Nobody wants that. Plan ahead and minimise the last-minute stress by getting your spare room guest-ready now:

  • Declutter: Spare rooms often bear the indignity of being a dumping ground for stuff. If ever there was a time to attack the piles of clothes and paperwork on the bed, on the chair and generally on every available surface in the spare room, it’s now. Make three piles: ‘things that have a home’, ‘things I need to work out where to store’ and ‘things to donate to charity’. The golden rule of tidying is useful here. When you pick something up, don’t put it down again until you put it away in the right place. Leaving things out to deal with later is both wishful thinking and demoralising as you’ll have to start the process all over again later.
  • Launder bedding: Pillows should be washed every couple of months and all types can generally go in the washing machine on a gentle, warm cycle with a small amount of non-bio detergent. Tumble dry on a low setting with a couple of tennis balls or laundry balls to plump up the filling and prevent clumping. Duvets need washing regularly but may be too bulky for your machine. King size duvets and any with a 13.5 tog rating will need a large capacity machine at your local laundrette.
  • Vacuum the mattress: The shudder-inducing statistic that mattresses double in weight every ten years as a result of millions of dust mites may not be strictly true, but certainly has enough truth in it to motivate a fortnightly hoover of the mattress. If you’re serious about getting dust mites and other allergens out of the bedroom for good, memory foam mattresses are the answer as they are too dense for dust mites to make their homes, as are memory foam pillows.
  • Free up wardrobe space: If your guests are staying for a few days they’ll appreciate having space in the wardrobe or in a chest of drawers. Pack away clothes that may be hanging there already using space-saving vacuum bags that can be stowed away under the bed. Or if the clothes are hanging in the spare room because you never wear them, be honest about that and have a quick clear out. Charity shops or homeless shelters will be grateful of any donations especially winter coats at this time of year. To make the most of the wardrobe space you’ve freed up, use vertically stacked hangers to store four times the number of tops in the same hanging space.
  • Revive curtains: Curtains should be washed at least once a year but if yours are overdue a clean, the run-up to Christmas might not be the best time to tackle what may be a big job. Instead, freshen them up by giving them a once over with the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner and spritz them with a deodorising spray like Febreze.
  • Bedside lamps: Make sure there is one on each side of the bed and that the bulbs don’t need replacing. Provide a few books and magazines too.
  • Wifi code and phone charger: Times have changed. Guests used to arrive and ask where the bathroom was, now they ask for the Wifi code. Make a note of it on a piece of paper and leave it on the bedside table. Providing a spare phone charger just in case is another nice touch.
  • Hotel touches: The following will all add a hotel vibe to your spare room: a jug and water glasses on the bedside table, fresh fluffy towels on the bed, extra blankets and a kettle with a tray of tea and coffee. Guests may find it more comfortable than pottering about on their own looking for tea bags in your kitchen. The trouble is, they may never want to leave.

For those who find house guests a bit of an imposition, the three Michael Graham homes below all have a self-contained annexe.

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