For Bobby Berk, designing a guest space is all about balance. It should be comfortable, well-designed but not too personal, and it should feel as close to a hotel as possible.
And there's one thing he says is the most overlooked in a guest space, whether it's an Airbnb or a guest room: personality.
"When I walk in, and I tell that there was just a checklist—that turns me off," Berk tells The Spruce. "I like when you can tell that people thought about the experience you were going to have, not just checking off the bare necessities."
To help people make sure their guest spaces are designed thoughtfully, the "Queer Eye" star and interior designer has partnered with Airbnb on a new program to guide new hosts on all things decorating, from choosing the right linens to creating a welcoming atmosphere. And Berk's own experience as an Airbnb host (and long-time Airbnb guest) makes him the perfect expert for the program.
We caught up with Berk to talk about his best tips and tricks for designing a guest space—and, of course, what we can expect from the newest season of "Queer Eye."
Choose the Right Linens
Berk has a rule for designing a guest space, whether an Airbnb or otherwise: always use white sheets and towels.
"For me, you should always have white bedding and white towels," Berk says. "You never want anyone to question if this towel is clean, or are the sheets clean? Nice, crisp, white hotel bedding is super important."
When it comes to the sheets, his choice may be surprising: "I do always recommend white, but not white cotton, not white linen," Berk says. "The sheets that we have in my Airbnb, they're actually polyester—which you might think, 'ugh.' But, I am blown away by the fact that every single guest loves them. Everyone is always like, 'Oh my god, what are these sheets? They feel amazing.'"
So, why polyester over cotton and linen? Berk says that cotton and linen stain more easily, and the stains are harder to remove, while polyester is much easier to keep white. He notes that most hotels will use polyester for this reason.
Invest Instead of Replace
Berk notes that polyester sheets aren't just easier to keep clean—they're also a great way to invest in a guest space on a budget. If you get sheets that are easily stained, you're going to be replacing them a lot, he explains.
The need to replace items on a regular basis is a guaranteed way to go way beyond your budget. While it may seem counterintuitive, investing in pieces upfront will actually save you money in the long run.
"If you go out and buy a bunch of cheap furniture, aiming to do this on a budget, you're going have to replace that cheap furniture sooner—so you're actually going to end up spending more," Berk says. "Don't be afraid to spend a little bit more than beginning on better stuff, because that better stuff is going to hold up longer and you're not going to have to replace it."
Create an Atmosphere
Whether creating an Airbnb, having guests overnight, or simply having a dinner party one evening, hosting is all about the atmosphere. For Berk, simple yet impactful ways to create an atmosphere in the space include music, temperature, and lighting.
"I like to make a playlist for my guests, and we have Sonos speakers that connect throughout the entire property," Berk says. "Our crew always comes to the property before, turns on the lights, and makes sure the ACs are on. This is all very important to make sure that the atmosphere they walk into is perfect."
And, of course, Berk recommends making sure the space has that personality. For his own Airbnb, a Spanish Hacienda house in Palm Desert, California, he likes to infuse little touches that speak to the area. He has local photography in the house, art from local artists, and will leave gifts for his guests of locally-made candles, olive oil from a local olive grove, or a bottle of local wine.
No Guest Room? No Problem
While not everyone owns an Airbnb (or even has a designated guest room) Berk's tips are applicable no matter what kind of guest space you have.
"Make sure that, even if guests stay on your sofa, they have great bedding and great towels," Berk says. "Make sure they have a nice little glass of water or carafe next to the sofa and somewhere to plug their phones in."
But if your guest space doubles as something else—an office, a playroom, somewhere to store all those miscellaneous items you don't otherwise have a spot for—Berk recommends setting up a system that's easy to implement when you do need the space for guests, so they can feel more comfortable.
"I can't speak for everybody, but I know that I wouldn't want to lay down in a room with kid's toys staring at me, or that I'm in your office space exactly where you need to work," Berk says. "My advice would be to make sure you have a quick and convenient system of storage to take those personal items out and have them somewhere else in the house."
What to Expect on "Queer Eye"
While Berk is fulfilling his dream of owning a home in the desert, fans will be able to catch him in the newest (and hotly anticipated) season of "Queer Eye," premiering at long last on Netflix on May 12. While Berk says the Fab Five think every new season is the best yet, there are a few things that make Season 7 extra special.
"Our casting department does such a great job of finding us the most amazing heroes," Berk says about the people whose lives, homes, and appearances they makeover. "When I say it's the best season yet, it's not just about us—it's about the stories that we get to tell."
This season will also be their first foray into New Orleans, as previous seasons have taken place in Austin, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.
"I would almost say New Orleans is like a different country," Berk says. "It's unlike anywhere else in the world. That's what's so special about it, from the people to the food to the music, the architecture."
And speaking of architecture, the Fab Five's loft—their basecamp office for the season—will be unlike any lofts of previous seasons.
"The Fab Five loft is this beautiful Victorian-style home, I forget what neighborhood it is," Berk says. "But in the 1800s it was a brothel."