Making Room For Guests

Author: Naomi Liddell

We have a small and cosy house. It’s a three bedroomed semi-detached and it’s perfect for our family at this stage. Gavin and I have the master bedroom, Ethan has his own room and Finn has his own room. The trouble with this set up is that I live in Scotland, yet I’m from Northern Ireland. Which bakes in a constant stream of family and friend visits, the type where people come to stay for several days on end. So, how do you make room for guests, when you haven’t got a room for guests?

This is a relatively recent issue for us. Finn has only moved into his own room this last six months. And up until then, what is now his bedroom, was our guest room. It’s a small room, but we were able to cart over a single bed from Gavin’s parent’s house (they live across the street) on the few occasions my Mum came to stay. It makes me laugh thinking now of Gavin traipsing across the cul-de-sac with a mattress on his back. But we knew Finn would be moving into his room soon so didn’t see the need to buy a single bed, when we would eventually need that space for a cot. 
Fast forward to now and over the next six months, we’re having 4 different visitors coming to stay, for up to a week at a time. Which means we’ve needed to revise the guest room situation. Our sofa in comfy, but open plan living doesn’t make for much privacy for guests (or support for my Mum’s bad back). So the current jigsaw plan for making room for guests is as follows:
We’ve bought this daybed from Argos, because I hunted for months and it’s the only daybed short enough to fit into the awkward bulkhead space in Finn’s room. It also has the bonus of a trundle bed underneath that can come out and either form two singles or push together for a double. Finn’s room has super neutral decor, nothing too babyish, so it’s perfectly suited to function as a nursery/guestroom. And a daybed is quite handy in a baby’s room for cuddling up on or for night watch when they’re (inevitably) poorly overnight. 
When guests come, luckily our bedroom is big enough that we can ship Finn’s cot out of his room into ours. Leaving our guests with a compact but fully functional room to stay in whilst our baby sleeps in with us. 
Obviously this plan has a bit of a shelf life as when Finn grows older, it’s going to be more difficult to turf him out anytime anyone comes to stay. His big brother Ethan has a cabin bed with room for a mattress underneath so we do have an option to create temporary bunk beds. I think the boys would love the novelty of this. However, I can’t help but feel it’s unfair for Finn to live in such a transitional space for too long.
The ultimate plan is to move to a bigger house in a few years, or even extend this one. On the tippy top of the non-negotiables list, is a dedicated room for guests. But in the meantime, we’re making the most of the space we have. As well as the fact that our youngest is portable and doesn’t really seem to care where he sleeps, as long as he gets some milk and a cuddle from Mum before bed. 
How have you made room for guests? Any inventive suggestions? Or are you the lucky owner of a guest room? – If it’s the latter – I have a question for you… How do you avoid turning the guest room into a dumping ground? I’ve always wondered if it’s possible. 

Naomi loves daytime baths, learning things and rock music.
(Oh and her kids. She loves them too)
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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28 thoughts on “Making Room For Guests

  1. Hello! We have three bedrooms – for us, our son and daughter. In my son’s larger bedroom we have a triple bunk-bed. It has a double bed on the bottom with a single bed up top. He usually sleeps in the double but when we have guests to stay my husband and I sleep on the bottom and he moves up to the top. Our guests then get our bedroom. And our daughter gets to stay in the smallest room with her cotbed. It’s such a juggling act, but at least we all get a bed and no-one is on a blow-up or mattress on the floor!

    1. Ah that triple bunkbed situation sounds genius! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those before but makes so much sense.

  2. We’ve got an inflatable toddler ready bed that my daughter will sleep on in our room if we need the space. They’re not the sturdiest (we’ve already had one burst) but they’re not expensive and for occasional nights I think she loves the excitement of sleeping in her blow up bed!

    1. Yep the kids definitely love the novelty of switching up rooms. Although for a whole week out of nearly every month I’m sure my two are going to get tired of it eventually!

  3. We are just adding a fourth bedroom to our 3-bed semi. Altho the box room is very much a box room and no use as a spare. We have converted our garage to gain a much wanted utility and the other half is a study which we’ll have a sofa bed in. Multi purpose rooms are the way forward! I think children love sharing..bunk beds, cabin beds or just one big mattress on the floor – kids will love it! If you do it often enough they’ll know to sleep rather than be awake with the novelty of it too!x

      1. Slowly!! And obviously overbudget – we have become a grand designs cliche! But very exciting to see all the space come together!

  4. We have this dilemma too (but I’m afraid that I don’t have the answers!!). We have a two bedroom house and one daughter, in England, with my parents over two hours away in Wales, and my brother’s family in Dublin!
    Currently we have a couple of options – usually my mum and dad (or other guests) have our room, and we either go in my daughter’s room on a double sofa bed, or sleep in the living room on a sofa bed. The problem is that if we’re downstairs this affects everyone else’s bedtimes (I like to get to bed much earlier than my dad and my husband!) and you have to walk through the living room to get to anywhere else in the house. It also means that we can’t have my whole family to stay at Christmas, because how would Santa bring any presents if we’re asleep in the living room by the tree, and the fireplace!
    We’d hoped to get the loft converted, but it was too expensive. I think we’re going to have to move in the next few years, and my dream is to have three bedrooms, and a self contained living room that could be used as a bedroom if really needed (not sure how that will still solve my Christmas dilemma, but it would be a start!)
    We are planning to replace the sofa bed in my daughter’s room to a more flexible day bed – better for sleepovers, and illness!
    What I find tricky is trying to convey to my husband how important this space/flexibility to have guests is to me – his family live a maximum of 20 minutes away and never stay overnight, so I just don’t think he gets it!!!
    I think if we did have a guest room, I would try and give it a permanent role too, so that it’s not a dumping ground – if it was a playroom or an office most of the time, would this help?
    When I was growing up we lived in a three bedroom house – I had a double bedroom and my little brother the box room (with an inventive built in extra bed – my dad is super handy!) … so if we had guests it was me who had to move in with my brother – I guess that was the pay off for having the biggest room – could you do something like that?

    1. I know this pain! Having the space for my family and friends from home to stay is paramount to me. Maybe it’s just a sit-down conversation where you get the point across to your hubby? We’re thinking of the next house having an office/guest room so it’s not just wasted space 70% of the year.

  5. We are in quite a similar situation with a 3 bed semi and 2 kids. Add to it a requirement for a home office and the only way to make it work for us was to build an extension which gives us the office but still just a bedroom each with one of the rooms being a single so we’ll have to do some creative juggling to have our families stay over. I’m thinking either giving our guests our bedroom and moving into Anna’s double bed while she camps out on a blow up mattress or getting a sofa bed for our living room which as a result of our extension can now be completely shut off. I do worry about the comfort of a sofa bed though, would a blow up bed be more comfortable? Our families don’t stay over that frequently so an airbandb would also be an option…a much cheaper one than moving I think. Following everyone’s tips with much interest!

    1. I think sofa beds have come a long way Kat! But you could always opt for the blow up bed to begin with if your guests are infrequent. Then if you need to upgrade to something more permanent you can.

      1. I’m going to investigate sofa beds a bit more, it has been ages since I last slept on one and like Amy says a mattress topper might make all the difference. Maybe a good idea for a future post as a lot of people seem to be in the same predicament.

        1. Kat, we’ve got the Hemnes Day Bed from Ikea as it rolls out to a king size. I found most sofa beds only make a small double. It’s really comfy!

  6. We have a slightly different situation in that we have 3 bedrooms upstairs and a spare room in the basement. There’s us in one room, our eldest (5) in her pretty large bedroom and 2yr old twin girls in the small room which is just about big enough for their beds but very little else.

    We rarely have guests to stay so we’re actually thinking of turning the spare room into a playroom but with a sofa bed for the occasional guest (and possibly adding a loo if we can). This means that when the twins are a bit older, we have a place for them to go and play when they wish as my eldest has gotten to that age where she often asks if she can go and play in her room which she LOVES (and gives her some time out from the two crazy toddlers that hound her). The twins are too young yet to want to play anywhere other than downstairs with us (think pink plastic EVRYWHERE!) but in a year or so, it would be nice for them to have an equivalent type space that my eldest has in her bedroom.

    And yes, our current spare room is an absolute dumping ground! I dont know what I’d do without it around birthdays and Christmas time as it’s got a lock on it so I can keep the girls from going down there (not that they have much interest in it as a room anyway).

    1. The playroom/guest room combo sounds perfect Anna. I always like the idea of having the space doing double duty because it’s only used as a guest room for a pretty short amount of time. Especially if it’s a decent sized space. Your girls would get so much use out of that!

  7. We moved our 1.5 year old into the same room as our 3.5 year old at the start of the Summer holidays so we can have a spare room/my office and so far it seems to be going well for the kids. However, I do feel like the spare room is a bit of a waste right now as I’ve not figured out how to set up my office without it looking ugly as sin so the boys like to play in it instead and a playroom was not my goal! Any tips for disguising horrible black computer screens would be welcomed!

    1. Laura we so contemplated doing this! And actually still might have to. Our dining room currently doubles as my home office. As for disguising screens, you could build one of those opens-out-desk-cupboard-things (technical term obvs). Failing that, I’d just embrace it and make the rest of the room feel like a space you want to be in.

  8. You sound like you have it all thought out. Don’t worry now about whether the set up will work when they are older, you have years yet and we often have all three of ours together when we have guests. We’ve always had to move around. We lived in a two bed flat with two kids at one point and had a double sofa bed in the kids room (we gave the kids the biggest bedroom) and we would all sleep together. Now we have a much bigger place but more children and more family (multiple cousins) to accommodate. The children really don’t mind moving about when they have the excitement of house guests!

    1. That’s true Jenny, it’s a novelty for everyone when people come to stay isn’t it? And you’re right. Sometimes I get too caught up in thinking ahead!

  9. I’d love to know if anyone can recommend a comfortable double sofa bed for the in-laws! They tell us they aren’t comfortable on the blow up bed in our lounge but maybe a decent looking sofa bed could work?!
    We’re in a 3-bed semi, 2 under 3, they have their own rooms but no room for day beds/ sofa beds/ bunk beds in their rooms so couldn’t switch them into our room for the night and set up something in theirs!
    Don’t want to waste money on a sofa bed they find uncomfortable!!

    1. It’s the holy grail isn’t it Megan, a comfortable sofa bed? Are you on Instagram? If so, send us a DM and I’ll see if we can glean some knowledge from the Instagram interiors community. There’s bound to be a solution out there!

  10. We have a single bed which converts into a super king. The bottom mattress (full depth) pops up to the right height. It’s a single bed most of the time but does as a double for guests.
    Called the Goodwood bed from Sleep shop. John Lewis do them but I think the quality is a bit pants.
    It’s also handy for sleepovers because it can be used as a twin too.

  11. I’m following these ideas with great interest as we have number two on the way, a three bed house and need room for guests!

    We have this sofa bed which looks fab as a sofa in the spare room and is a comfortable sofa bed (slightly smaller than a double), especially with a mattress topper on it

    We have the same issue of needing a guest room/spare bed/room for two kids… I’m going to go back to Instagram and search for inspiration but I’ve found very little so far. More ideas welcome!

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