By Jay Uhlenbrauck
Photography by Roger Wade
Whether building a second home or permanent residence, log home owners take their guest spaces seriously. After all, what's the fun of owning a cherished log home if you can't fill it full of friends and family every once in a while?
During the holidays, guest spaces are really put to the test. 'Tis the season for homes to burst at the seams with friends, relatives and miscellaneous party-seekers. Without a game plan, you could run out of holiday cheer real quick.
To avoid an entertainment disaster any time of the year, consider guest spaces early on in the design stage. If your home is already built, don't worry: with a little creativity you can make most any floorplan work — with comfort and joy to spare.
Know your guests
When designing guest rooms, consider first who your guests will be. This will dictate how big guest spaces should be and where they should be located.
If you have grandparents who visit often, don't make them climb stairs to get to the guest room. If you have guests with young children, you will need a room big enough for a crib and changing table. Either way, try locating the guest room away from the master bedroom or the home's common areas so guests aren't disturbed (or disturbing you).
If you need to accommodate multiple families at once, build a bunkroom for children. Kids love bunking together. It gives them a chance to share secrets, tell stories and bond with faraway friends and cousins.
Keep an open mind
Open floor plans work best for entertaining.
"An open floor plan allows guests to have conversations with the person making the meal as well as others in the living room," says Stephanie Baldwin of Town & Country Cedar Homes. "Rooms need to be open to each other but still provide individuality and an intimate feel."
"It gives you the ability to push some couches or tables aside to do what you need to do and then move them back," says Patricia Wiseman of Wiseman-Keller Design.
Rooms in an open floor plan are also more multifunctional. With good planning, areas for conversation, TV viewing and reading can all exist in the same room, keeping guests in the same vicinity.
Get 'em at the front door
Guests often travel long distances to reach your home. So when they arrive, your first job is to make them feel comfortable. Your home's design will affect this.
Your entryway should be functional and inviting. An overhang above the door is a must, especially in northern climates where snow and ice are factors.
Once inside, it's important guests have plenty of room to remove shoes, boots and coats. Build a separate mudroom adjacent to the entryway. If that's not possible, outfit your foyer with a mat or area rug for wet footwear, a closet for outerwear and a bench.
Guest room — not messed room
Limiting furnishings and décor in your guest rooms will make them more functional. Leave tabletops open for guest use. Guests will feel awkward if they have to move knickknacks to make room for their luggage.
"In the bedroom you want sturdy beds with comfortable quilts, big pillows, sturdy bed stands, good lighting and maybe a rocker or sitting area," Windmueller says.
Give guests a comfort zone
Guests should feel free to come and go as they please. For this reason, walk-out basements often make good guest quarters. With proper planning, guests can have their own bathroom, laundry facilities and, in some cases, a small kitchen.
"A finished basement is a great place for entertaining," Baldwin says. "It is a good place for the entertainment center, bar, pool table, wine cellar, storage, additional bedroom suites ... and, of course, extra bathrooms."
Thank you. Come again.
Carefully design your guest spaces and the smiles on your guests' faces will be your reward. "The design of the guest quarters is really a reflection of the individual doing the entertaining," Baldwin says.
"It's important for the designer to capture that in the layout. Your guests need to feel welcome and comfortable. You want them to come again."
These tips were featured in the December 2002 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.