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If These Walls Could Talk

The Comfortable Home

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09/01/2009 - I recently vacationed in Alaska and instead of staying at the usual hotels, decided to book Bed & Breakfasts. In Alaska most visitors choose to stay in B&Bs, so when I looked on-line, there were a vast number of choices. I settled on a couple of charming lofts. Each one had windows, sweet décor, and balconies.

The first place I stayed seemed perfect. The proud proprietress showed me all 6 of her guest rooms when I arrived. Each room was decorated with a theme. All had a nautical flavor, which was appropriate for the town of Seward which sits on Resurection Bay. In one room, she had even painted the constellations on the ceiling in invisible glow-in-the-dark paint.

The true test of the décor however, came that night as I tried to settle into the loft. The room's vast windows seemed less welcome as night came and I realized there were no blinds or draperies to pull for privacy. The room grew chill, and I found the only heat provided was a plug-in unit with no thermostat, (so naturally I woke up later to an overheated room). I decided to plot out the next day's course in my Milepost magazine while snuggled in the comfort of bed. After removing all but 3 or 4 of the more than a dozen pillows, I climbed in and tried to reach for the book. I'd placed it on the bedside table. From bed, both the table and the lamp were too far away to reach. I found out what else was out of reach later when using the restroom. The toilet paper spool was high up on the wall next to the sink across the room from the toilet.

Among other things, there were no towel bars or hooks to hang anything. There was a coffee pot with neither cups nor coffee, and oatmeal with no way to cook it. There were no lights in any area one needed them. The room was designed purely for appearance.

The next morning, I asked my hostess if she had ever actually slept in any of her rooms. She admitted that though she had tried one night, she'd gone home before morning.

The next place I stayed on the Homer Spit was less than half the size of the first, yet it was much cozier. There were shelves and hooks and lights in the right places. There were blinds, a regular heater, and a shower one could actually stand in.

I learned a lot from this experience. Comfort, thoughtfulness, and rooms designed around real human needs are more important than any appearance of luxury. Every homeowner should spend a night sleeping in their own guest quarters. Take a checklist. Look for temperature control, light, ventilation, privacy, and places for the guest to place necessary items close to seating, bed areas, and doors.

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