Friday, January 22, 2010

How to Create the B&B Experience At Home

One in eight Americans is now on food stamps, a jaw-dropping statistic that makes me wonder about the government’s priorities. Our bookings show that even folks with steady jobs think twice about heading off for the weekend. Last winter people were able to afford a romantic getaway at a cozy B&B, but now the “staycation” has become all the rage. I called around to other local innkeepers and business is way down. A reader even emailed a request on how to create a B&B experience at home: “I would love a post about how to make your bedroom feel like a room at a B&B - what touches give it that special feeling ...”

So, here we go with my response: while no doubt a worthy goal, making your own bedroom look like a room in a B&B is impossible. How can I be so categorical? Experience! When you enter a B&B, the public areas have been cleared of personal items. Think back to the room you were assigned on your last getaway, or, more exactly, the moment you entered that room. What you saw was calculated to please the senses: soft down comforters and numerous fluffy pillows on a bed that would even guarantee a good night’s sleep to that fairy-tale princess who had the problem with a pea. I always put a bouquet of flowers on the bedside table. If guests arrive during the evening, I bathe the room is soft light when their car pulls up in our driveway. Sometimes I place two fancy chocolates beside the flowers. Hospitality is important but the first impression is what counts. Guests are getting a virgin room, clean, welcoming, totally uncluttered. As soon as they bring in their suitcases, the situation changes, but they have already been charmed by the initial experience.

This reader’s request reminded me of the professional photographer, who took photographs at Chez Sven. The following month Dan Cutrona wrote a blog post entitled “How to Make Your Home Look Like a Photo Shoot.” He spent a whole day here. Why? Each shot had to be prefect. Harmonious colors, optimal angle, perfect lighting. What’s more, his assistant kept removing objects until the boss was satisfied. Dan explains, “Aside from hiring a professional stylist, the moral of the story is, if you are looking to make your home look like it is straight out of a magazine, don’t look for what you can add, look for what you can take out!”

Did I hear the word “stylist”? Not a bad idea. I love the work of Allegra Dioguardi at Styled and Sold, reported last month at CasaCara.

De-cluttering is important, but there’s nothing like dropping everything for a weekend away. Ditch the old routine for new sights and fresh air. Expand your horizon.

So, dear readers, do not give up on the B&B experience during these difficult times. Treat yourself to some illusion. There are lots of specials available, like this one: 25% off regular Seagull Cottage rates for same-week bookings. You’ll return refreshed and ready to face daily challenges. Allow yourself to be pampered: it’s a great way to survive the recession.