Give Your Guests a Home Away From Home

By Kim Vargo /

Fires are crackling, lights are twinkling, and before you know it, turkeys will be roasting and shiny paper will be peeled away, revealing thoughtful gifts and curiosities. All that to say, it’s that time of year in which friends and family come together, and chances are – to put it quite bluntly! – they’ll need a warm place to stay.

Our calendar is already filling up with out-of-towners, which has been a great push to get our spare room up to snuff! We’ve been working on gathering all the guest room essentials, browsing inspiration photos and hard at work installing shelves, closet systems and whimsical wallpaper. Along the way, we’ve been focusing on all those things that make your guest room a warm and welcoming place to stay, and I’d like to share some of those checklist items with you, too.


You know that feeling of sleeping in at a hotel, and you have those blackout shades to thank? The same should go in this room as well! Layer blinds and curtains, which will not only afford your guest privacy from close neighbors, but will give them the freedom to sleep in or wake up with the sun. At the same time, even artificial light should come with options. A dimmer to control the harsh overhead light and a sconce on either side of the bed will make them feel more at home.

Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens


More often than not, our guests have been known to travel with laptops, tablets and various electronics. Rather than have them use your dining or coffee tables as a landing zone, provide them with their own desk, in their own room. A side table will do in a small space, but be sure to place the mini office next to an electrical outlet. Stash a notepad and pen nearby, provide a task lamp (if there’s room), an additional phone charger and your wi-fi password. Your guest will appreciate the task area, whether they’re checking emails late into the night or simply reading their favorite blogs. Below, we re-purposed a vintage school desk!


While the first question your guest may ask is what’s your wi-fi password?, there are other (perhaps more important) items that they’ll likely need during their stay. Put yourself two steps ahead and fill a decorative box or vase with miniature sized items that may not have made it into their suitcase – toothpaste, shampoo and a disposable razor. Have towels, washcloths and a bar of soap ready to go on those freshly washed sheets, and tuck a bottle of water and a few snacks on a bedside table.

Photo Credit:  A Beautiful Mess


With the essentials handled (look at you go!), there are a few more things you can do to make their visit a memorable one. I recently visited my mom, and she had a new pair of slippers by the guest bed for my personal use; it was amazingly thoughtful! I made a mental note to step up my game for her next visit to Chicago, but there are other ways to kick it up a notch.

Fold extra blankets into a basket, stack current magazine issues on a table, display a fresh bundle of flowers and tuck a thank-you note on their pillow. A cushy rug for their toes in the morning won’t go unnoticed, and a traditional alarm clock is a nice alternative to their cell phone. A tabletop fan will help those that need white noise, and empty hangers in the closet will keep their clothes wrinkle-free. These are small but welcome gestures that’ll keep your friends and family rested and ready to face a day of adventure with you!

Photo Credit: Victoria Pearson via Style by Emily Henderson


For fun, leave a travel log for your guests to sign. We customized this modern Pinhole book, which not only includes photos of our favorite haunts around our Chicago hometown, but close to 100 blank pages waiting to be filled. We’ll be encouraging our loved ones to share their favorite brunch spot, Windy City must-dos or how far they’ve travelled. This will not only be a unique way for our future guests to gather ideas, but a great memento to have of our loved ones visits.

We’re still putting the final touches on our own guest room, and we’re looking forward to our first friends’ stay at Hotel Vargo. Are there any other must-haves you’ve put into practice or would like to see as a guest yourself?

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