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Turn your home into a comfy retreat for guests


There are those who believe that the Lord created company so the house would get cleaned. If that’s true, then perhaps the house guest— a more intensive form of “company” — was invented so the house would get organized as well.

With the holidays fast approaching, opening your home to far-flung family and friends can provide a motivating deadline for putting your house in order — or at least the guest room, which after months of disuse tends to become a dumping ground for all kinds of messy miscellany.

Whether you have spacious guest quarters or barely enough room for a folding cot, here are a few simple steps you can take for organizing your “home hotel” to create efficient yet comfortable accommodations.


Giving guests a good place to rest requires more than just a bed and bedding. Most people also like to have a bedside surface that can be used as a night stand to keep eyeglasses, tissues or other necessities within easy reach. It’s smart to choose something that can double as a storage unit for hiding away whatever you might pile on the sofa bed during guest-free times. (Note: a standard-size night table may be too high for lower guest beds such as trundles and air mattresses.)

Here are a few examples:

• A stackable system, such as the three-piece Media Storage Cabinet ($79; Target) consisting of three cubes with sliding doors, is extremely versatile. You can reconfigure the pieces depending on your needs. For your guests’ convenience, split up the unit into three separate stands: two for night stands plus one to use as a luggage stand. After your visitors depart, stack the components into a space-saving storage tower or use them in other configurations.

• Storage stools combine seating and storage functions at just the right height for guest night stands The Bamboo Lattice Storage Stool ($89; The Container Store) has a lift-off lid and ventilated sides, making it well-suited for use as a hamper, too. The Rolling Storage Ottoman ($49; Linens ’n Things) features easily accessible side-entry storage, and can be rolled wherever it’s needed most.

• Magazine tables — the kind with a flat surface above an area designed for storing publications upright — are another perennially useful multipurpose option. Small and unassuming, this type of table works well day-to-day almost anywhere to keep your reading materials tidy, and then instantly transforms into a guest night-stand. You can find attractive examples at JCPenney ($69) and other department stores.


Unless you have an excess of empty closet space (is there anyone who does?), providing a convenient place for guests to store their clothing can present a daunting challenge.

Here are some simple solutions:

• Over-the-door hook units take up minimal space, require no installation, and are handy for hanging casual clothes as well as holding hanger-hung garments. You can find reasonably priced examples at many home products retailers. Bed, Bath & Beyond has several stylish versions, including one with six double hooks that’s available in five different colors ($5).

• Removable hooks are another solution, if utilizing the back of a door isn’t a desirable option. You can stick 3-M Command Strips Removable Hooks on almost any wall (approx. $3; available at most office supply outlets and home improvement retailers). They come in a range of sizes and can hold varying amounts of weight. If you don’t want to leave the hooks up after your guests leave, the adhesive backing removes cleanly without damaging paint, wallpaper or most other surfaces.

• Rolling garment racks are not only ideal for guests, they’re also useful year-round for drip-drying delicates or as a clothes valet when you’re laying out clothing to pack for a trip. Target has an especially well-designed version with three separate areas for easy storage of tops, pants and shoes ($25). Kmart also has a good selection of rolling racks, including the Corner Garment Rack Valet ($99), which makes efficient use of wasted corner space.


Unless you have the luxury of an extra lavatory, sharing your facilities with guests can create chaos. But by designating places for extra towels and toiletries, it’s possible to minimize the clutter while making your visitors feel more at home.

Here are two economical ideas for a more guest-friendly bathroom.

• Target’s collapsible cherry-wood Towel Rack ($39) provides accessible storage for towels, has a ventilated shelf for slippers and easily folds away when your hosting duties are done.

• A compact rolling cart with three wire shelves solves the problem of where your guests can stash their toiletry kits and cosmetic cases for easy access. (3-Tier Cart, $6; Miles Kimball Catalog, or 800-546-2255.)


HARRIET SCHECHTER is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author of three books, including “Let Go of Clutter.” Her online advice column is at





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