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Guests are coming ...

Aug 30, 2013 :

The arrival of guests need not be a thing of terror or worry. It is the time to spruce up your home and give it a fresh lease of life, says Anuradha Muralidharan.

Being a gracious host is second nature to us Indians and over the years, while many things have changed our habit of staying with friends or relatives when travelling still lingers on.

We really understand and appreciate hospitality, especially when it is tinged with genuine warmth. And so, while we do love to visit a house which has impressive paintings, upholstery, immaculate kitchens or spotless bathrooms, what we want more than all of that, is to be made to feel welcome. 


We are quick to return favours and open our doors to welcome visiting friends and relatives.

Irrespective of the importance of the relationship one shares with one’s visiting guests, it is nice to ensure that the house is in good condition when they come and so if a coat of paint or some repairs to the word work are overdue, this may be the time to get it done.

The advantages of doing major repair work, pending a guest’s visit are two-fold: A. We are motivated to get it done and B. We don’t have any excuses to put it off!
The good news is, a newly painted house camouflages flaws and gives guests the feel of a brand new house when they step in. If painting is not required, there are other things around the house which might have needed attention over a period of time, but which you have been putting off, like a leaking tap or a broken stair.

Getting these done requires a bit of commitment, i.e., calling in the service people and ensuring that it is done and therefore, these small things unless they are problematic, tend to be swept under the carpet. But now may be the time to get it done and as an added bonus,  remember that your guests will see you as someone who takes pride in his/her home. 


Getting down to brass-tacks

So, once the big stuff is out of the way, it is time to get down to brass-tacks. This part of the preparation should begin a couple of days in advance. This is the time to spring clean, not just the guest room, but the entire house itself. It is a time to do the laundry and stock up on essentials like toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. Maybe you can get a spare key for the front door and give it to your guest. It will be seen as an awesome gesture.

After this is done, walk into the guest room and take stock of what needs to be done. The first and most important step is to remove all that is not necessary, out of the room. A spare room in most households attracts all those things which we don’t have a use for. Like the exercise bicycle bought in a guilty moment after seeing the scales tip to the wrong side on a weighing machine, all those extra empty suitcases which made sense when you returned from abroad, but lie around using up space now, the cartons of books and CDs you meant to give away but have not found the time. 

The question you may ask is, where do we put this stuff?

 Well, the simple answer is, get rid of the stuff you don’t need and get creative with storage space for the remaining stuff but ensure that they are all cleared out of the guest room.

You will notice that when you have moved out all the unwanted stuff, the room already looks so much better. This is the time to get it spring cleaned. It is also the time to pop into the bathroom and give it a thorough cleaning. Guests like clean bedrooms, but they would appreciate a clean bathroom better. So it is important to sweep, scrub and clean till you can see your face reflected in the bathroom tiles. 

Extend the cleaning effort to windows too and if the curtains need to be changed or washed, this is the time to do the same.

With the cleaning done, the next step is to focus on the bed. The bed is the most inviting object in a room. Ensure that the mattress is not lumpy, the pillows soft and the bed linen, fresh and clean. Leave a few extra pillows on the bed.

Be a guest in your own house

As the next step, I strongly suggest that you imagine yourself as a guest and see what you would look for in a room. Your instinct will tell you a lot more than you can imagine. For example, if the guest is planning to stay for more than a week, then living out of a suitcase is not the ideal solution. Therefore if you have a wardrobe or storage space in the room, empty it out and put out a few clothes hangers. You can even leave a small swab of cotton dabbed in some good aroma oil inside the cupboard.

Next step is to ensure that all the lights and switches are working. If the room can accommodate a writing table and chair, please move one in. Make it personal by placing a couple of reading lamps in the room, one next to the bed and one on the writing table. 

Provide the guest now with a few thoughtful items, like a spare toothbrush, paste, soap bar and a laundered towel for the bathroom. A blanket and duvet for the bed, magazines, a bottle of water, a candle and a box of matches in case there is a power failure and the power backup dies out. The last touch would be to add a small flower arrangement to the room.

While you are doing all this, the point to be remembered is your guest won’t be expecting hotel-like accommodation and amenities and therefore the idea should be to provide comfort, hygiene and warmth without making it seem like too much effort has gone into achieving the same.

So, once the big stuff is out of the way, it is time to get down to brass-tacks. This part of the preparation should begin a couple of days in advance. This is the time to spring clean, not just the guest room, but the entire house itself. It is a time to do the laundry and stock up on essentials like toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. Maybe you can get a spare key for the front door and give it to your guest. It will be seen as an awesome gesture.

After this is done, walk into the guest room and take stock of what needs to be done. The first and most important step is to remove all that is not necessary, out of the room. A spare room in most households attracts all those things which we don’t have a use for. Like the exercise bicycle bought in a guilty moment after seeing the scales tip to the wrong side on a weighing machine, all those extra empty suitcases which made sense when you returned from abroad, but lie around using up space now, the cartons of books and CDs you meant to give away but have not found the time. 

The question you may ask is, where do we put this stuff?  Well, the simple answer is, get rid of the stuff you don’t need and get creative with storage space for the remaining stuff but ensure that they are all cleared out of the guest room.

You will notice that when you have moved out all the unwanted stuff, the room already looks so much better. This is the time to get it spring cleaned. It is also the time to pop into the bathroom and give it a thorough cleaning. Guests like clean bedrooms, but they would appreciate a clean bathroom better. So it is important to sweep, scrub and clean till you can see your face reflected in the bathroom tiles. 

Extend the cleaning effort to windows too and if the curtains need to be changed or washed, this is the time to do the same.

With the cleaning done, the next step is to focus on the bed. The bed is the most inviting object in a room. Ensure that the mattress is not lumpy, the pillows soft and the bed linen, fresh and clean. Leave a few extra pillows on the bed.

Be a guest in your own house

As the next step, I strongly suggest that you imagine yourself as a guest and see what you would look for in a room. Your instinct will tell you a lot more than you can imagine. For example, if the guest is planning to stay for more than a week, then living out of a suitcase is not the ideal solution. Therefore if you have a wardrobe or storage space in the room, empty it out and put out a few clothes hangers. You can even leave a small swab of cotton dabbed in some good aroma oil inside the cupboard.

Next step is to ensure that all the lights and switches are working. If the room can accommodate a writing table and chair, please move one in. Make it personal by placing a couple of reading lamps in the room, one next to the bed and one on the writing table. 

Provide the guest now with a few thoughtful items, like a spare toothbrush, paste, soap bar and a laundered towel for the bathroom. A blanket and duvet for the bed, magazines, a bottle of water, a candle and a box of matches in case there is a power failure and the power backup dies out. The last touch would be to add a small flower arrangement to the room.

While you are doing all this, the point to be remembered is your guest won’t be expecting hotel-like accommodation and amenities and therefore the idea should be to provide comfort, hygiene and warmth without making it seem like too much effort has gone into achieving the same.

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