Searching for inspiration for a multipurpose guest room

Our new house has a guest room, which is something completely alien to us. Not really knowing what to do with the space, my husband and I bought a bed and nightstand, hung some artwork, and then closed the door to keep out the cat. (The image at right is the catalog staging of the bed and nightstand we have. Obviously, if our guest room already looked this amazing, I wouldn’t be writing this post.)

Since we moved in March, the room has only been used by guests a few times. The Karen Bussen-inspired entertainer in me loves this idea of having a relaxing room just for guests — make the room like a $400 a night resort hotel room where visitors can truly feel as if they are on a rejuvenating vacation. Conversely, the practical part of me thinks the room should have more utility than a place for visitors to sleep once every couple months.

I’ve been spending a lot of time researching ways to satisfy both of my desires for the space. I’m looking for ways to make it a fabulous guest room and a practical hobby room in one. The solution will have to include storage for the hobby supplies that can be completely closed up when guests are present and using it for their retreat. And, I want it to be extremely practical as a hobby room when guests aren’t visiting.

Here are some of the images I’ve been using as inspiration for what to do with this room:

Have you seen a beautiful guest room that serves more than one purpose? Share a link or describe a solution you’ve seen in the comments. How did someone create a space that effectively met both needs?

45 Comments for “Searching for inspiration for a multipurpose guest room”

  1. posted by RebKnitz on

    When I move into a house (oh please soon), my goal for the guest room is to be usually a craft room, with guest room capabilities. The vision is to have a murphy bed, and for the focus of the room otherwise to be a crafting table on casters so it can move out of the way when necessary.

  2. posted by Celeste on

    A friend built a dream home with a quilting studio, and had a Murphy bed installed to create a rare space for guests. I wouldn’t say it was super as a relaxing guest room, though it was always tidy–it was just clearly a hobby room first.

    I think I’d like a guest room that doubled as a study more than an office or hobby room. I’d like bookshelves and a writing desk, as well as a chaise and if feasible, a window seat. I’d like it to be a space that the family could use for tranquility, whether what they wanted to do was read, write, daydream, or even catch a little catnap.

  3. posted by Minneapolisite on

    @RebKnitz, I also dreamed of a Murphy bed. They are extremely expensive, just to warn you!

    I see some of these guest rooms feature daybeds, which I love. My biggest piece of advice here is to get Twin XL beds to accommodate people over 5 feet tall!

    It is hard to find a frame specifically made for a Twin XL, but if you find a bed frame that is available in Queen AND Twin, you can order Queen side rails and Twin headboard/footboard. For a daybed, just order two headboards or two footboards.

    Bonus: Twin XL is exactly half the width of a King bed, so if you purchase a matching set (make sure boxspring and mattress are exactly the same, so they are the same height) you can push them together to form a King bed.

  4. posted by Wulf on

    Our guest room is also our main bedroom. How does that work?

    It is the box room and just about has room for the bed with space to open the door and a walkway and bedside table on each side. There is also a small built in cupboard with curtain rather than a door. When guests come, they get this room to themselves and we move next door to a futon in the larger “dressing room” (with wardrobes, dressing table and bits and pieces). It works well, at least for short-term visitors as we can give them the best bed in the house and a touch of privacy without having to barge in to retrieve our clothes.

    FWIW, the largest of the three bedrooms is set aside as a permanent creative space. No point wasting a lot of room on a bedroom when you mainly go in there to sleep!

  5. posted by DeCee on

    The “Guest Room/Home Office” room sounded like a good idea to us many years ago…it did not work well for us at all…especially if guests stayed a week or more. It becomes difficult to get to your business at hand when someone is occupying the room and you may not be able to get in there at a moments notice. We even caught one “guest” going through our personal paperwork! Nope, didn’t work well at all…maybe we just had bad guests! :)
    Our solution was to make an Office/Craft/Exercise Room, and when we have guests…they sleep on a nice futon in the living room.

  6. posted by Kari on

    Our guest room is also a reading room–we are both academics so read a LOT and it is the quietest and most removed room in the house. We have a high quality futon that is both comfortable in the couch position and as a bed (we have the same type of futon as our regular mattress so will vouch for its comfort). We have a couple of bookcases; docking station for our laptops, i-pads, and i-phones; really good reading lamps, footstool (which can double as seating or a place to unpack a bag–it also holds all the bedding for the guest bed); and a couple of throws for warmth. It is a lovely room to work in–quiet and conducive to reading and thinking.

  7. posted by bytheway on

    Our guest room is a bedroom (full-sized bed, small dresser, chair, nightstand) with its storage taken up for our own kids. Toys are rotated thru the closet, outgrown clothes are neatly stored under the bed until they can be given away to family or taken to Goodwill. It is also a staging area for seasonal decorations (where I sort Xmas ornaments, assemble Easter baskets, and the like). My kids know the guest room is off-limits at all times…not because I make a big deal out of it, but there is just nothing that seems useful or interesting to them in there…so I can hide my Xmas presents, birthday presents, even just suprise balloons without worry! When guests come, some things are shifted to other storage areas so guests can hang clothes in the closet. As another commenter said, the office/guest room combo did not work for us, either.

  8. posted by ael on

    My office is also our guest room right now, but something simple and obvious was pointed out to me in a book I was reading recently (I think it was The Not-So-Big Remodel). This ‘duh’ moment was that home offices aren’t usually the best choice for guest rooms because you can’t get in to work without disturbing your guests. This is certainly true for me, because I often work odd hours when I do use my office.

    So we’re moving toward converting our dining room (currently storing my craft supplies) into an ‘away room’ (another Not-So-Big concept) that will double as a guest room. The plan is for a large very comfortable couch with a good pullout bed, a couple other chairs set up in a reading grouping under the window, and a good-size height-adjustable table. I might have to have the table built custom, because I want something old-fashioned in style, but that can be desk height for homework/hobbies/projects, coffee table height for relaxing and conversation, then easily broken down and taken apart when we need to pull out the sofa. (The table pieces can be stored under or behind the couch in the adjoining living room.)

    We’ll have heavy curtains on all the doorways for privacy and sound-muffling, and I’m going to try and make sure I don’t go crazy with the decor so it stays peaceful. If I can figure out where to put a bookcase/armoire for storing in progress projects/guest suitcases, it should be perfect.

  9. posted by Katie Alender on

    Wulf, I love the idea of the master bedroom as an office. I keep wishing my husband would let us change ours.

    My craft room is already my office, so it would be disastrous to try to add any more functionality. (Not to mention I’d get really cranky if my guests were blocking access to my work station!) We’ve been trying to find a way to make our downstairs living room (it’s the secondary level of the house) into a creative space for my husband. We both do quite a lot of work in the house and we’re definitely not making the smartest use of our space.

  10. posted by Anita on

    We have a multi-purpose room in our apartment, and I love it. It is part office, part music room, part living room, and part guestroom.

    I think the trick to deciding how to organize a multi-purpose room is to decide approximately how much time that room will spend fulfilling each of its functions, and how important those functions are to you.

    For example, our multi-purpose room is mainly used as an office/study, so one of the main features in the room is a big desk with lots of storage for office supplies, files, computer peripherals and software, photography equipment and the like. We also have shelves and a bookcase for books and reference material.

    We rarely have guests stay over, so rather than a full bed, we have a very comfy sofa that turns into a double bed, and a spare set of linens in the closet in this room. This way the room can also be used as spare living room space at any point, rather than be stuck in guestroom mode, the guest bed is made in about 5 minutes, as it’s needed, and the linens are put away and protected from dust and cat hair.

  11. posted by Lee on

    We’re working on this same type of room – an office that can be used for a guest room. Much of this is based on what I’d like in a guest room I’m staying in and how I’ve considered incorporating it in our room.

    We already had a queen bedframe and mattress, so will not replace that. If buying a new bed, the XL Twin mattresses are a great idea. We use them in our own bedroom, as my husband moves around alot at night and a 2″ separation keeps me from feeling it. In a guest room, they could be pulled apart if the 2 people using them are not “a couple”, but also pushed tightly togehter to make one bed. My Costco and Land’s End king sheets fit perfectly when the beds have been pushed together. Extra bedding can be stored between the top mattress and box springs. We purchased the cheap metal frames from a mattress company, but be sure you get the kind with wheels if you may be moving them together and apart. We bought 2 twin headboards and my husband screwed them to the back of the bed frame.

    Fluffy pillows always send the message of luxury and 2 on each bed give guests a choice and are helpful for those who sleep with 2 pillows. Euro squares are nice for reading in bed.

    In our own bedroom, I put a sheet across the bedspread to protect it from cat hair and turning dark where the cats were lying. It also helps if your cat does that mushy pushing with it’s claws out. I’ve found I can train them to sleep on their own folded towel – keep moving them to the towel and they eventually get the point :) The problem would be for guests with cat allergies.

    Many things can be used for both purposes – a clock (with an alarm), a window shade or drapes that give privacy and darken the room, a work/game/writing surface, a wastebasket. There should be reading light on the nightstand or attached to the headboard. A 3/4 or full lenght mirror could be attached to the back of a door. There should be 2 chairs if there is usually only 1 (even if 1 is a folding chair) and 1 or 2 comfy chairs are nice. A rocker is helpful for parents of young children.

    Some things could be stored and only pulled out when guests are there – a basket of toiletries, a basket of paper, envelopes, pens and pencils, stamps; a phone book; a guidebook of local attractions; towels; a folding suitcase stand if there is no flat surface to open a suitcase; towels and a movable towel rack if there is no handy place to hang towels; extra hangers – plain and with clips; a collapsable basket for dirty clothes; a hanging sweater holder if no drawer space is available for folded clothing; a night light for those who may get up in the night, a carafe for water and glasses and a plastic tray so water doesn’t damage wood surfaces; a lighted makeup mirror is there is no mirror in a well lit area. A phone is nice for those who don’t have cell phones. Much of this could be stored under the bed or the baskets/containers could be stackable. Fresh snacks could be added before guests arrive.

    As my memory for lots of details isn’t great, I’d like a checklist. This could be updated based on guests needs that hadn’t been anticipated.

    I’m anxious to read other solutions.

  12. posted by Toya on

    I am not too keen on the guestroom/office bit. I have guests that like to plunder, so I don’t want my home office in a location where, in the middle of the night, guest can access it without me knowing. Additionally, I don’t want to operate my home office under lock and key just because I *might* have guest once or twice a year. So the guest room is simply a guest room. The hubs and I decided that if we were to have a child, we would get rid of the guest room and opt to put guest up in a hotel. We are close to some real nice hotels, so we figure it would be a way to limit their stay yet make them feel comfortable. Once the time comes.

  13. posted by Susan in FL on

    As others have noted, the guest room/office combination does not work well if you need to use the office on a regular basis even when guests are in residence. The best double use guest room I ever occupied was one which held the home’s second television set and a hide-a-bed/couch conversion. In this home the television from the master bedroom was moved to the guest room and the other television was in the family room.

  14. posted by Leonie on

    my guest room is…a mess at the moment. In its ideal yet to be realised condition, it will serve as a guestroom/sewing/quilting/knitting supply room. The office/guest room combo absolutely will not work as I work from home as much as I can. Not having access to my files/work space/computer is one issue. Needing to keep said files and documents in a secure area is another. That said, the only guest we have had since we moved back into the house after a 2nd story addition have been my children’s friends who are happy to bunk in with the kids. When grandfather visits this thanksgiving….he will want his own space. And I may need to move out for a few days….lol

  15. posted by Claire on

    We currently have a guest room, but it never gets used. The in-laws used to come once a year for ~10 days, but they can’t stay with us anymore because we have too many stairs. And, honestly, if we had guests that decided to plunder or go through our personal items, I think I would quickly get rid of all guest accomodations and decline to let guests stay over. That is completely unacceptable.

    If/when we have kids and are still in our current house, the guest room will disappear and will become the child’s room.

    Thanks to all of the commenters about the office/guest room combo not working. My ideal office would be paperless and we would both have laptops. If that were reality, I think the office/guest room combo could work, but that is still just a fantasy for now (although we are working on it…I’ve been saving all of our bills electronically since late 2009….).

  16. posted by Debbie M on

    I agree–the ideal second use is for something you would never do while you have guests. However, you probably don’t want it to be the laundry room (which is all that comes to mind for me).

    My grandparents used to have a guest bedroom for a while and then one day decided they wanted to use all the rooms for themselves. So they used one bedroom for sleeping and the other for their hobbies. When people visited, they paid for a hotel for them.

    When my place was too tiny to have people over, then my mom would stay in a hotel when she visited and we would just hang out at the hotel instead of at my house! I’ve also done that thing where my parents get my bed and I sleep on the couch in the living room.

    So, there are a lot of options.

    One other note: when I’m a guest someplace with an actual closet and dresser, it’s a little disappointing when there’s nowhere to put my stuff because the entire closet is already full, all the dresser drawers are full, all the space under the bed is used, etc.

    That said, my guests are stuck on an air mattress in the living room. We find air mattresses to be more comfortable than cheap-o sofa beds, especially if you have any back issues at all (or are bony), though getting up and down from the floor can also be a challenge. They know they’re just going to have to leave their stuff next to the piano or something. So, I’m hardly the person with the best solution.

    Or I could say I already have a permanent guest (a roommate) who has their own guest bed room just for them, and it’s only the additional guests who are stuck in the living room. I don’t think anyone’s falling for that, though.

  17. posted by Jessi on

    I love this post! In a couple weeks I’m moving to a new home about 2,000 miles away. And our new place has 4 bedrooms! That’s twice what we have right now and twice what we really need so I’m really excited about transforming these spaces into something a little more luxurious. The smallest is going to act as a walk-in closet to counter act the lack of storage in the rest of the house. But the other bedroom is going to become our guest room / library.

    I really wanted it to be a cozy space that we can use everyday and feels welcoming to our guests. I’ve stayed in several multi purpose guest rooms and I always feel like an intruder. So I really want to prioritize ours as a relaxing, welcoming space first and foremost. But I just can’t stand the idea of an entire room that will sit vacant 90% of the time. And, well, we have a lot of books.

    Here’s my inspiration picture: http://www.northlodge.com/room.....akfast.htm
    We have way more books than this, so we’ll have more bookshelves. And, instead of a bed, I think we’re going to get the most comfortable sleeper sofa we can find. Maybe add a small writing desk and a cozy chair if we have room.

  18. posted by Mletta on

    Here’s what we’ve learned over the years with designated “guestroom + room” situations in our home and that of others.

    1. “Sharing” functions rarely works well unless you either have very few guests (or want very few guests)infrequently or you spend very little time using the room for the other function, whether craft room or home office.

    “Multi-tasking” rooms sounds better than it plays out in real life, even if the room is large and well-designed and laid out. You do have to prioritize what is most important: guests or daily usage for various needs. It is often, unless the space is huge, an either/or situation. So don’t pretend it isn’t.

    2. As others have noted, using the guestroom as a home office simply does not work well unless you rarely have daily need for the office.

    3. There is nothing quite as wonderful/luxurious as staying in a truly well-designed single-purpose guestroom (great lighting, adequate and easy to reach storage, a TV and/or computer, sitting chair, comfortable bed and linens, with a very soothing overall design and perhaps an in-room small fridge and coffeemaker!). It’s always clear when people have put thought into making such a room a true retreat for a guest–and when it’s just an afterthought or secondary use of space.

    We have friends with three such guestrooms. Unsurprisingly, they love having people stay over, even at the last minute–and they usually have people visiting them almost every week. And it’s truly like staying in a five-star hotel. (FYI: they each have a separate home office, albeit small, elsewhere in their home, on another floor).

    4. If you really need this room for ongoing use as a craft room, home office or storage room, then design and use it as such. It’s more important to use the space you have to meet your primary/daily needs than ending up with a room that serves neither yours, nor your guests’ needs.

    5. Accept that you may not have room to have guests in a way that is comfortable for them. If someone really needs a second room but would not be happy with a pull-out couch or the equivalent in your combo craft/guest room, then rethink whether it makes any sense to combine the two.

    Those of us who live in apartments that are about a quarter of the size of an average home (or smaller) and don’t have second bedrooms, either don’t have guests stay over or alert guests that they will have “improvised” quarters in the living room. (No, we do not give up our bedroom. And it’s not just because it is also part home-office. There are limits to hospitality. We have paid for hotels nearby and in this city, that is not cheap.)

    As we live in a major city that everyone wants to visit, it has worked well for us to NOT have a guestroom. Our work-at-home schedules simply cannot accommodate a lot of visitors, no matter how much we would like to see them. (and let’s be clear, a lot of “visitors” are really folks looking to come to our city, not to see us, but who can’t afford it unless they can crash at our place. We’re not twenty-somethings, so we don’t use our home as a crashpad!)

    You’ve already purchased a bed so that’s a level of commitment to a guestroom. Personally, we prefer more space-saving alternatives such as Murphy Beds and pull-out couches. Given the high quality of these today, they are good alternatives. (Even air mattresses, stacked, often make good alternatives.) There are now ottomans and single chairs that convert to comfortable beds, and allow more room for other activities.

    Multi-tasking rooms seem to work better on TV redesigns than in real life, in our humble experience.

  19. posted by Debra on

    We have a 3-bedroom home – master bedroom, son’s bedroom and the guest room. We are struggling with the idea of a combo room but when I talked to a realtor, she strongly suggested we stage the 3rd bedroom just as a bedroom, not as a combo room. She said the combo will make most people equate the home as short on space and some will even consider it more of a 2-bedroom home.

  20. posted by April on

    I think that’s a great idea. You already have an office (presumably in a different part of the house) so you wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to work when you have guests over.

    My first thought as I started reading your post was, “Finally! A place to wrap presents!” Lol. Goes to show you what I struggle with. ;)

    Have you gotten addicted to pinterest.com yet? You’ll probably find some great inspiration there. I *love* that site.

  21. posted by Jadielady on

    We didn’t really want a guest bedroom because we really only have one set of friends who ever stay overnight, but I am getting my own room for my knitting and things, and we will put a bed in it, so that guests may sleep there instead of an air mattress in our den :)

  22. posted by Nicky at Not My Mother on

    I love having a spare bedroom (guest room) in our house, but it so rarely gets used, so it ends up as the junk dumping ground as well. Obviously you don’t have that problem, Erin ;-p Anyway, to try and motivate myself to keep it tidy, I’m aiming to make it also my relaxing/chill out place. It has to keep tidy to let me meditate, and because it’s not part of the living area it’s not used for anything else (and thus doesn’t have kids toys strewn everywhere).

    I was thinking maybe using your guest room like that would let you have the high-end resort room style you’d like (but it’s mainly for you, not the guests)?

  23. posted by LisaD on

    Meditation room! You can easily remove the meditation cushion and anything else you use for yoga or meditation. That’s the (main) purpose of my extra room.

  24. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    I gave up on the home office / guestroom combination over five years ago, and it was a great decision. As others have noted, I need to be able to get to my home office even when I have guests.

    Now, as a professional organizer, my guest room also serves as my “client items on their way to new homes” room. It’s where I keep items I’m in the process of Freecycling or otherwise disposing of. Things usually enter and leave pretty quickly. And I can always just pack the things up and put them in the garage when guests arrive – it’s just more convenient to have them close at hand.

  25. posted by Letitia (the Netherlands) on

    Our guest room (& storage room) is used by my in-laws for 2 weeks about 4 times a year (they live in France). It is a renovated part of the former garage that we split with a wall, a toilet and small entrance hall. We decorated it with nice wallpaper, dark-wood flooring and black and white framed pictures. We couldn’t make an office there because my husband works at home.

    In there we have a single bed with a bed in drawer underneath. Every time I know my guests will be staying I use some beer crates to build a high double bed in there (they need a high bed because they are over 70).

    We combined the guest room with storage closets. 2 large book cases (Billy) where I have my home & living books and lifestyle magazines and other books that I have already read once or multiple times. (my father in law reads more when he is with us than at home;-).

    A large wardrobe for all our out of season /too small/ too large clothes and some empty shelves and hanging space for the clothes of our guests. Another closet next to it holds the extra toys for my son of 3, you know those larger toys (train tracks, garage, XL truck) that you can get out on a rainy day that he hasn’t seen for weeks and that get played with as though they were new…

    In our guest room is also a small kitchen sink and counter with storage that hold my baking supplies for special occasions. Above the sink I store some extra towels and wash cloths for my guests to use.

    This works fine for us, no items we use often when the guests are in and more room in the rest of the house for office, crafts and other hobbies.

  26. posted by Georgie on

    A friend of mine had custom-made built-in wardrobes installed along one wall of her spare room, with a table that folds down out of the wardrobe. That way, when guests are staying the room feels like a dedicated bedroom, although most of the wall of wardrobes contains craft stuff, there is a small area for the guests’ clothes (plus drawers in another part of the room).

    However, I believe you rent so this would not be practical for you!

  27. posted by katrina on

    Whether a guest room is multi-purpose really depends on whether someone is happy to have a room in their home that’s not used regularly … or at all.

    We have an entertainment room that doubles as a guest bedroom. Instead of indulging in a TV in the master bedroom, we have a TV, playstation, tiny sound system, and a reading chair in the guest bedroom (with the bed etc). So if my husband wants to watch some sports live, I can watch my own show in the guest bedroom or visa versa. And when guests visit they have their own entertainment

  28. posted by Karen Newbie on

    Erin, this is a very timely post for me, once again.

    I am **as we speak** trying to figure if I can split up my 2 teenage daughters so they each have their own room, thereby getting rid of the guest room. We rarely have guests anymore, but when we do, we temporarily could move 1 daughter back in with her sister and return the room to its guest functionality.

    Older daughter is 16 and going to be a junior in high school next year; younger is 13 and going into 8th grade. The younger daughter is the tidier one by a long shot, so she’d be the vagrant when guests come in.

    Am interested to know if anyone else has done this with any success, or has any words of caution. We would do some major purging of stuff – we’ve been in this house 11 years, so they’ve accumulated all sorts of do-dads, etc. – and I would get some new linens to punch it up a bit. Realizing the multipurpose room has to appeal to a teenage girl and not offend possible guests, I’m considering asking her not to hang artwork that she wouldn’t want her grandmother to see (i.e., no pinups of hottie actors, which she doesn’t have at this stage anyway), but that would probably be the only request I’d have.

    There is no plan to move furniture around, just kids, their stuff, and their decor.

    Thoughts? I’ve been milling this around for months, and the girls are on board. Hubby’s not so much on board – he thinks we’ll have guests more often and regularly than we do – but we think this could be an improvement to many family dynamics.

    Thanks, Erin, for this great post!

  29. posted by Letitia (the Netherlands) on

    @karen newbie.

    My room always doubled as the guest bedroom when I lived with my parents. And yes the decorations were not very girly but rustic romantic (that was normal in the eighties).

    It is really easy to hang some colourful pinboards on the walls where your daughter can hang any popstar poster she likes (within the frame of course) and when guests use the room they see the pretty picture that you have attached to the backside of the pinboard. (just flip them, use other bed linen, guestroom is ready…).

  30. posted by Bibliovore on

    I think it helps to consider the kinds of guests you’ll have. (Toya’s “guests who like to plunder” made me shudder!) If you expect to have couples coming, you’ll need a larger bed than if you just need space for one adult, or a kid or two. This site has some amazing bed-into-??? convertible options, including into craft tables; I love this sofa-into-bunk-beds one:
    http://www.bonbon.co.uk/clei/doc.htm

    Our guest room is also a library and sewing room. The bedside table holds a radio alarm clock, a reading lamp, and writing supplies. It looks like (and functions as) a small, simple desk, but the center section lifts up into a vanity mirror, and the sewing machine fits on top nicely and tucks under the table when not in use. The top dresser drawers are empty for guest use and the bottom one holds linens; half the closet is clear for guests and the rest holds storage/luggage/sewing/wrapping supplies. The back of the door has robe hooks, and behind it is a full-length mirror.

    The sewing/writing stuff is unobtrusive when guests are over, but the four packed bookshelves are very visible. Fortunately, any guests of ours know to expect plenty of books.

  31. posted by Anita on

    Lots of interesting points on here!

    The plundering guests made me cringe too. That is NOT cool!

    @Mletta – I don’t know if I’d be comfortable staying with friends, but in a hotel-like room like you described. I would obviously appreciate a good bed with comfortable linens. I’d be grateful for storage (one drawer and 2 inches of hanging space is plenty), but don’t mind living out of a suitcase either. But an in-room fridge and coffeemaker would put me off and make me uncomfortable. I rarely stay with friends, and I rarely have people stay over at my place, so when I do, it’s usually only family or very close friends. Giving them hotel-like accommodations just makes them feel like strangers. I think if you’re comfortable enough to let someone stay with you, why can’t they use your fridge or coffeemaker?

  32. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    OH MY GOSH! I cannot believe that people go through their host’s office stuff. That’s insane. INSANE! (Though, @Toya’s use of the word “plunder” was unbearably perfect!) Thankfully, we have a dedicated office so our guest room wouldn’t double as an office. Just thinking of doubling it up as a sewing room.

    So many wonderful comments here! Thank you, everyone!

  33. posted by Karen Newbie on

    @Letitia, thanks for the suggestions. Never thought of flipping a bulletin board over (is that what a pin board is?) and having “grandma-appropriate” artwork at the ready!

  34. posted by Debbie P on

    This is the prettiest and most practical guest room / craft room makeover I have ever seen.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/c.....485756360/

  35. posted by EngineerMom on

    Our guest room is also my relaxation room. A guest room doesn’t have to serve two purposes to be useful when you don’t have guests. Having an adult space that stays clean and picked up (my son isn’t allowed in there until he’s old enough to know not to jump on a made bed!) provides some necessary mental relief. Sometimes during his naptime, I go in there to just sit in the comfy rocking chair and read a favorite book or work on a knitting project.

    The items that make it so relaxing also make it very guest-friendly:

    – Fresh flowers when our garden is blooming
    – Pleasure books (Harry Potter, Narnia books, some of my favorite sci-fi books)
    – Candles and low-light lamps
    – a private half-bath (our house has only two bathrooms, one on each floor, and the full bath is generally shared by everyone)
    – a small radio tuned to the classical station
    – a bed that stays made, and a floor that is clear of toy clutter!

  36. posted by M on

    Hi, Love your site, just have one little request: can you have your links open in a new window? It would be nice to be able to read your text while looking at the pictures/websites at the same time. Thanks!

  37. posted by Kalani on

    @Karen Newbie –

    My sister and I sometimes shared a room and sometimes had separate rooms while growing up. One room had twin beds; one had a double. Which one moved out for guests had everything to do with which bed configuration was better for guests. (we would move the beds around if we got bored with the arrangement.) For example, some people will not sleep well in a double (full) size if they are used to a king, but will sleep better in twin beds. This arrangement worked well for us as a family. Whenever I had to give up my own room, I did resent it, but no more than being told to clean my room or take the trash out. Having separate rooms was more important in our teenage years than it was in childhood. If you don’t completely re-decorate and buy entirely new furniture to set up rooms (we didn’t– we just moved stuff and that was it) you can always try it out for a while and see how the girls like it. Hopefully this is somewhat helpful in your thought process.

  38. posted by Elizabeth on

    Can I add just one plea which was prompted by the list of furniture you said you had already bought for the guest room. Please, please, please put a mirror in there somewhere.

    It’s a particularly sore topic for me because my sister and husband (who have a six bed house so no probs finding guest rooms) use one room as the main guest room and while it is beautifully furnished, the one essential it is missing is a mirror. Every time I stay there there is nowhere for me to check my outfit or makeup without going into one of the other bedrooms or standing in front of the downstairs mirror in the hall.

    I’ve mentioned it to her sooo many times you wouldn’t believe it and she always says she’s going to get one but the task just gets lost in all the other stuff that comes up :-(

    If the wardrobe doesn’t have a mirror then a nice freestanding full length one or a wall hung one to at least see the face and top half is brilliant.

  39. posted by Anne on

    How about this one from IKEA hackers?
    http://www.ikeahackers.net/201.....orage.html

  40. posted by Leah on

    Our spare room is the guest room/”office”. It’s not really the office, tho it does hold our filing cabinets, a bookshelf, and the desk with my boyfriend’s desktop (he just uses it for playing video games). Honestly, it’s mostly a storage room for us*. It’s a fairly small room, so we don’t have a permanent bed. Instead, we have an aerobed queen sized mattress with the “box spring” underneath. It’s just as tall as a normal bed. Boyfriend’s parents stay frequently for the weekend, and they say it works well. I’ve always found aerobeds to be comfortable and durable. I lived in a twin sized one for several years post-college and would do it again were I single. I wouldn’t discount a nice air mattress as a reasonable guest accommodation possibility.

    * we are in employer-provided housing, so we didn’t get to pick our apartment nor the room arrangement. I likely wouldn’t pay to rent our apartment, even tho we make it work for us.

  41. posted by Bibliovore on

    @M, if you’re using Firefox (it may also work for IE; I don’t know), you can click a link with the middle mouse button to make it open in a new window. If you don’t have a middle mouse button, you can right-click the link and choose “Open Link in New Window”.

    (Erin, you probably already know this, but if you DO want to make links open in new windows and your blog software doesn’t offer it as a direct option, add target=”_blank” inside the anchor tag, like this. Some love it, some hate it.)

    @EngineerMom, thanks for mentioning to set the guest-room radio station — I don’t think I’ve done that!

    @Elizabeth, maybe a mirror would be a great present for your sister’s next birthday. ;)

    @Leah, I’ve slept in guest airbeds and they’re great. One caveat: If the air in them gets cool it can suck body heat much like an unheated waterbed, so putting a layer or two under the bottom sheet (mattress pad, blankets, whatever) can help ensure comfort.

  42. posted by Bibliovore on

    (And, of course, the blog comment system didn’t parse the new-window link code as anything except a plain link — sorry about that! Here’s the format; in case they also don’t display as the appropriate symbols, < and > are HTML-code for the less-than and greater-than brackets — and if this example doesn’t display correctly, please delete this post!)

    <a href=”http://unclutterer.com” target=”_blank”>LINKTEXT</a>

  43. posted by Tweetie on

    It’s easier to know how to outfit a guest room when you recall to mind times and places where *you* have been a guest. For instance, I don’t mind that a guest room doubles as something else, but it definitely should not house a home office that is used on a regular basis, an overflow closet that someone constantly needs access to (for instance, where all the shoes and accessories are kept), or as a junk room (simply because no one wants to sleep amidst junk). I actually think the idea of housing the home library in a guest room is lovely, as it provides guest with some down-time reading material, and (if placed strategically along the wall(s) shared with other rooms) can also provide an extra measure of acoustical privacy.
    I am personally guilty of using our guest room as the “furniture finishing room/temporary junk room,” and my husband must use the guest room closet as his closet (all the closets in our house are tiny). So our current guest room situation is far from perfect. Luckily, the only guests we have had so far have been family, or house sitters (so we weren’t even home to intrude about getting something out of the closet). Naturally, I don’t have projects going on while we have guests, and try to make sure the room is tidy and free of “storage” items. The guest room is currently the only room in the house where we can shut the door and keep the cats off a freshly-stained door or cabinet.

    I would like to use the room as a sewing/craft guest room, and plan on storing my sewing, knitting, and stamp supplies in a wardrobe that would also house a television and perhaps some clothing storage for guests (I don’t have a vast collection of fabrics and notions, so hopefully my supplies would only take up 2 drawers, leaving a drawer empty). So far we haven’t had family stay for more than a week, and they’ve had to live out of their suitcase. The desk I would use while actually sewing/stamping would double as a writing desk/nightstand for guests. Our guest room is actually the biggest bedroom in the house, so it has plenty of floorspace for a queen bed, desk, wardrobe, and room to spread out fabric or leave a couple of suitcases open on the floor.
    As a guest in other’s homes (mostly family) it hasn’t ever bugged me that I’ve had to live out of my suitcase, or that someone might occasionally need to retrieve something from the closet, but it has annoyed me that they don’t clear out the room enough of their own junk/clutter to leave much room to actually open the suitcase and spread out a bit!

  44. posted by Jen on

    I’ve read these comments with a lot of interest. We currently have a guest bedroom that is not well-utilized. It just has a queen bed (leftover from our old apt), nightstand, and small dresser, plus a closet that has some of our rarely used clothing (like dressy clothes) and the rest of it is full of stuff to give to goodwill and the like. We really like having space to put up guests for a couple of days at a time (though I can’t imagine having someone come to stay for a week or more, I’d probably go crazy but to each his own). But we only have guests stay overnight maybe 5-6 times a year for a night or two at a time. I don’t feel that this is worth a dedicated space in our home. That said, I don’t think the space is big enough for the room to do double-duty, though I’d love to have a pull-out couch for guests, and a desk/file cabinet. Since our guests are fairly rare and we don’t do a lot of work from home I don’t think we would feel put-out if we couldn’t access the office area for a day or two. Thanks for posting these ideas, it might be worthwhile to check them out and maybe get some ideas of what might work in a smaller room.

    And Erin, I also can’t believe that people’s guests have rifled through their office stuff! Crazy! I’d sooner throw out the guest than redo my office/guest room configuration!

  45. posted by katrina on

    ~~ Posted by Karen Newbie – I am **as we speak** trying to figure if I can split up my 2 teenage daughters so they each have their own room, thereby getting rid of the guest room. We rarely have guests anymore, but when we do, we temporarily could move 1 daughter back in with her sister and return the room to its guest functionality. ~~

    Karen, if you rarely use it do you need it at all? What do your guests expect on the rare times they visit? Would a convertable sofa bed in the family room be enough?

    I’m strongly of the opinion that a house should suit the occupants first and guests a distant second.

    If you set up your daughter’s room to be transformable, won’t that tell her that it’s not really her room? I think making a few guests ‘make do’ (when they decide to not pay for a hotel room and get free accommodation for you) is infinitely better than making your daughter feel like she is a guest in her own home.

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