After an isolated, stay-at-home Christmas last year, most of us are relishing the chance to host visitors over the festive period.
But for a stay to remember, it means transforming spare rooms into a chic sanctuary of sleep.
‘Finally, our spare rooms can be used as they are meant to — for our guests, rather than as a home office or dumping ground,’ says Hannah Walters, co-founder of online interiors site Charlested.
‘We’re going the extra mile to make our spare rooms feel welcoming this year.’
Comfort and joy: Add a throw to create a cosy look and make a spare room more welcoming
Make the bed the star attraction, says James Thurstan Waterworth, who designed the Wiltshire boutique hotel The Bradley Hare.
‘When designing a bedroom, the focal point should be the bed, it is the place you will inevitably spend the largest portion of your time,’ he says.
The mattress matters. A study on sleep quality published in SAGE Journals found ‘mattress and pillows were really high up on the list of sleep satisfaction.’
Dr Rebecca Robbins, who co-authored the study and who is a sleep expert to upmarket bed maker Savoir, says: ‘People tend to overlook the mattress when designing a spare room, ultimately though, you want your guests to have a wonderful night’s sleep,’
Try Savoir Nº4 UK Mattress from £4,910 or topper from £2,905 (savoirbeds.com).
A Welsh tapestry print patterned cushion by Gwenno Jones (£30)
The cosy atmosphere can also come from soft furnishings.
‘A textured headboard brings a warm, welcome layer of softness and tactility to a bedroom,’ says Thurstan Waterworth.
Try Studio Trove’s Royére headboard (from £895) or the DIY blog Mano Mano has a tutorial for those wanting to try it at home.
Natural, super-soft throws spread at the bottom of the bed allow guests to cosy up. Try TOAST’s 100 per cent lambswool blanket (£95).
Add warmth with layers of textures using rugs, cushions and curtains.
‘Lots of cushions made from natural fibres — cottons and linens — will add gentle textures and a soothing quality so you feel like you’re being nurtured,’ says Lady Carole Bamford, co-founder of Daylesford.
The brand’s Quadrant cushion comes in a neutral check (£75) or choose a Welsh tapestry print pattern by maker Gwenno Jones (£30).
Richard Karegeya, one of the Savoy’s butlers dedicated to the Royal Suite recommends ‘blackout blinds to ensure the perfect environment for a restful sleep’.
The online company blinds2go.co.uk have customisable blinds from £10.25.
Make sure guests can step out on to something warm. Try Pemberton Rug, a vintage-looking tonal pink rug with fringing which can be layered over floorboards or carpets (£165).
Don’t try to make all the furniture match. ‘I find pairing a modern bed with antique furnishings and accessories helps to build the homely environment needed for a guest room,’ says Thurstan Waterworth.
You don’t need to fully furnish the room. If you don’t have space for a wardrobe, for example, a chair to place clothes on can double up.
Try the Giulia Chair in a range of fabrics from ceraudo.com (from £780).
You can make guests feel cared for with thoughtful touches such as a lavender spray for the pillow or a cup of chamomile tea.
Candles are also worth investing in. There’s a beautifully scented Christmas votive trio at Plum & Ashby.
Deborah Fiddy, founder of the nightwear brand Gingerlily, suggests laying out silk pyjamas on the pillow or a new silk robe hanging on the back of the door to make guests feel at home.
What your home needs are… tea lights
Warming: The White Company has ribbed glass gold holders, pictured, £6 (thewhitecompany.co.uk)
The tea light, a tiny candle in metal casing, evolved as part of the Japanese tea ceremony in the 9th century, keeping the teapots warm during these elaborate events.
In this country, the tea light is used to provide cheer at gatherings. A bag of 12 maxi tea lights costs £3.50 at Sainsbury’s, while for £9.99 you can buy a pack of eight of the battery-powered version from Lakeland — the safety-first choice.
Attractive holders are also inexpensive which is why your home needs some now: it is this column’s mission to enliven long winter evenings.
Liberty’s has glass holders in 12 colours for £7.20 each while The White Company has ribbed glass gold holders for £6.
House-shaped tea light holders are a thing this season. At Asda, you can buy a set of three in cream, grey and yellow for £12 while, for the same price, Habitat supplies a larger house in green.
Not On The High Street offers six styles of Amsterdam canal house at £17.50 each.
The £50 pair of Vera Wang glass holders with silver bows from Wedgwood would be a gift for newly-weds.