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Trina Knudsen, Renovation Design Group
A guest bathroom is always a subject for discussion during the planning phase of a remodel, especially when remodeling with the holidays in mind.

Like we said last week, you never should design a remodel for a once-a-year event such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, having the ultimate entertaining house that functions just as well on special occasions as it does every day will make the quality of life for the holidays just a little bit brighter.

While your house should be what you and your family need and want, it is also nice to offer your guests something as well.

A gracious entry: Your guests’ experience at your home begins on the exterior at the curb. Hopefully, the exterior of your home is clean, neat and attractive. Routine maintenance will go a long way to make sure your home looks like a space people will want to enter. A little special attention to the front porch and door won’t be amiss for this special day.

Inside, the goal would be a space that allows for a smooth physical and psychological transition from the outside of your home to the inside. It feels a bit awkward when we step directly into the living room; it is as if the transition is too abrupt. The entry doesn’t have to be a separate space, but it can appear to be a dedicated space by carefully designing the flooring, ceiling and furniture placement. Ideally, it will be large enough that three to four people can stand there and still close the front door.

Accommodations: A guest bathroom is always a subject for discussion during the planning phase. There are three options: The first is to let the guests use one of the existing family bathrooms, usually the main hall bath. This works pretty well on Thanksgiving because you know the guests are coming and you have prepared the children’s bath to be presentable. It is not as successful on a "normal" day when guests might drop in, and who knows what the bathroom looks like.

A dedicated guest bath (also known as a powder room or half-bath) typically consists of just a sink and a toilet. The second placement option is to create a half-bath somewhat near the public, front rooms of the house and set the space aside for guest use only. The third choice is to locate it farther into the semi-private space of the home, say off the laundry room or mud room. This functions better for family use (children to wash up for dinner or dad after working in the garage, for instance) but is less glamorous for guests. (We like to keep the laundry/mud room in the "no guest zone.") There isn't a perfect solution, unless you want a slew of bathrooms to clean.

Socializing: The ultimate purpose for the shopping, cleaning and cooking is to gather friends and loved ones together. Newer, open-concept designs foster this goal by allowing homes to accommodate larger groups who can stay together in the same vicinity. One group will often gather in the kitchen, but those sitting at the dining room table or in the adjoining family or living room can at least see what is going on. In these situations, we rarely interact with the entire group at once, but our human nature desires that we don’t miss anything important. This needs to be taken into consideration when designing your new floor plan because it applies to your family as well as to large gatherings of guests.

Storage, flow and spatial relationships need to be considered in your design process. While you won’t actually design for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might as well keep it in mind while you are at it. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to offer your home as party central.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to [email protected]