At this time of year thoughts often to turn to guests and the sleeping arrangements thereof. Now while I am fully on board with Benjamin Franklin’s belief that guests are like fish – both begin to smell after three days – I do also believe in making them as comfortable as possible while they are there.
However, few of us have the space for a dedicated spare room. The word itself is a misnomer. If it was spare enough to be just for guests it should really be called the guest room. For most of us – even assuming we have such a place – it is the extra laundry room, the home office, the playroom, the teenagers’ space, the all-the-other stuff-there-isn’t-space-for-anywhere-else room. Which means, in short, that this is, in effect, the multi-tasking room.
It needs to be functional for the drying of the laundry or for the working at home for probably 350 days out of 365. Then it needs to convert to a comfortable space for parents, friends and anyone else who happens to turn up needing a bed.
On which note I urge you to check the twitter feed of Rhodri Marsden during December. He publishes an annual stream of strange places people are made to sleep when they return to their parents’ home for the festive season. Some find their bedrooms are home gyms, some are under the desk in the office, sleeping with the laundry in the garage. You probably all have tales to tell. It’s a hilarious thread from about 22 December onwards.
But here, in The Mad House, we are all about creating the perfect guest room. The one that works as a really good home office until with a shove of that, a swivel of this and a twist of the other, it has become the guest room of dreams.
You will need: a sofa bed. This is the obvious one as it saves space when it’s a sofa – and works for a quick post lunch 40 winks during a work day. If it’s for elderly relatives then make sure you buy one with a good mattress – pocket sprung will provide more support than foam.
Next a table. If you can find one that works as both a desk and a dressing table this is ideal. Then you can shove the files in the drawers, move the computer and replace it with a mirror, add a box of tissues and a vase of flowers and Bob’s your uncle. And very happy he’ll be sleeping in here too.
So yes the accessories – a mirror to replace the computer, a tray to replace the notebooks and vase of flowers instead of the pens and chargers. Desk top to dressing table top. And if you’ve bought a sofa bed with storage then all those things can live in that until needed.
Back to the furniture. You will also need a desk chair that works as a dressing table chair so not too office-y. Having said that I have spent so many years doing my make-up standing up in front of a mirror that the last time I decided to sit down (in a fancy hotel room) I promptly stabbed myself in the eye with the mascara wand and had to lie down and cry for a bit. But if you are more dextrous than me and use this more as a desk then you will need a chair.
If you have space for a stool that can double up as a bedside table – or even as the chair for the desk if space is tight – then that can make life more comfortable. You can then move the desk lamp to the bedside for late night reading. More multi-tasking.
A collapsible clothes rail can be good. Even guests who don’t like to hang things can always drape them over the top. If there’s no room for this then make sure there are hooks on the back of the door. Another tip is to buy a row of Shaker pegs and fix those on the wall somewhere. These work for individual items and will also take hangers for those who are coming for longer. When not needed for clothes you can hang baskets on them and fill them with work stuff.
Finally a good use for all those sample bottles and sachets that fall out of magazines/out of hotel bedrooms into suitcases. Buy a pretty bowl and leave them all in there for guests to choose the ones they fancy.
And there you have it. How to Create the perfect guest room. And home office. And spare room place.