Having Your Own Zen Spot is Critical for Bed and Breakfast Owners

Why paying attention to your own living quarters is important to a B&B owner’s success.

If you are like most people considering owning a bed and breakfast, I’m sure you’ve given some thought to how you would like to decorate the house and especially the guest bedrooms.  But have you given much thought to where you would be living in the house, and what that area would look like?

Most people wonder why I harp so much on understanding what the pros and cons of owning a bed and breakfast will be for you.  However, I have found that a strong understanding of yourself means that you can set up your bed and breakfast in the way that will maximize both you and your guests’ enjoyment of the property.  And that includes thinking about where you will live in the property, and how much private space you will need.

Fifteen years ago, when I first started interviewing bed and breakfast owners about their living quarters I was shocked at how many lived in the basement, in cramped spaces above their garage or a converted attic space or even those who had their bedroom on one level, but trooped all the way down to the basement to access a bathroom.

While it is important that you maximize the space that you utilize within the house for your guests – as well as more revenue, it also means bigger tax deductions – your living arrangements will be an important component for your success.  It is imperative that you have a private place you can withdraw to, feel comfortable in and like to be in, in order to recharge your batteries and be ready to deal with your guests.

A Professional’s Take on the Matter

I had the opportunity to speak with Trish Badham, a real estate agent and bed and breakfast owner who specializes in the sale of b and b’s in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area of Ontario.  We had an interesting discussion about what she felt was one of the most important features of purchasing a bed and breakfast that most people don’t consider – where the owners’ quarters are going to be, and how much space is required.  As Trish says “When you are buying a B&B you are buying three things: a home, a business and a lifestyle. All this in one home – a lot to ask for! “

Her assessment of the situation is to start with the number of people who will be living permanently at the B&B and determine your need for living quarters from there.

Then, calculate:

  • how many bedrooms will you need?
  • how many bathrooms?
  • where will you eat your meals?
  • what type of family space do you require?

Why Bed and breakfast owners’ living quarters are important

I have to agree with Trish’s assessment – having a proper space is really important.  On innspiring.com one day I saw a tongue in cheek comment that only in a B&B will you find people who own a 5,000 square foot house, but only live in 500 square feet of it!   Generally, owners’ quarters are the last rooms in the house to be finished and/or decorated, and quite often become the home for discarded furniture from the rest of the house.

Because I knew myself well enough when I planned my B&B, I knew I needed a space where I could completely get away from the guests and received lots of light (no basement for me!).  I was fortune enough to find a house with a layout that would accommodate my needs – I had a private entrance and bed/sitting room (there’s was only me!) private bath and full access to the kitchen, which was closed off from the guest areas of the house.  While that arrangement works well for me, I was also aware that for resale value, I had to allow for some space to expand the owners’ quarters should that be required by the next owners.

So, what type of living quarters do you want and/or need in your bed and breakfast?

Think about how much time you will be spending there (including in the off-season), how many people will be using the space, and what amenities you want, so that you can be well rested and ready to deal with your guests.  To find out what other things you need to take into account when you want to start your bed and breakfast, check out The Pros and Cons of Owning a Bed and Breakfast course


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