How To Have A Guest Room (When You Don’t Have A Guest Room)

If the title of this post is confusing, I’ll explain it now! We live in a moderately small ranch home (that Todd and I both work out of as well), so while it would be amazing to have a full dedicated guest room that was always set up to host guests, well, it’s just not really an option for us at the moment. That being said, we have found ways to have items on hand to comfortably host both our parents, family, and friends throughout the year in our front room area. So I thought I’d share my essentials list with you for others who want to be able to host guests whenever you’d like without giving up precious space throughout the rest of the year. I know the holiday season is especially big for hosting family, so here are my top tips for being a temporary hostess with the mostest!

Two words. Sleeper sofa: While you can totally go with a nice air mattress to house guests, that may be a little more doable for your single younger brother’s visit that for some of your, ahem, older guests who may not be as young to bounce back from a few nights of just OK sleep. A sleeper sofa in our front room has been a lifesaver for us for almost four years now and I’ll never do without one again (and getting this beautiful version in blush pink velvet has been a dream come true for me)! It’s a much better sleep situation than an air mattress (especially if you have one that has a memory foam mattress like ours, although you can put a memory foam topper on your sleeper mattress too) and speaking as a guest who has slept on both other people’s air mattresses and sleeper sofas, I’ll choose the sleeper sofa every time! There are also lots of different sizes and configurations of sleepers to fit your needs, but if you have room for a couch in your house, you have room for a sleeper sofa and an instantly comfortable guest bed on demand that doesn’t take up extra space when not in use by guests. I highly recommend them!

Blackout curtains: Unless your sleeping space is in a windowless basement, it’s good to think about how much light enters that room in the morning. This is something that realized we were missing lately when we were using our sleeper as our bed for a few weeks during a renovation, and the room was a lot brighter than I remembered at dawn. I went out and got some blackout curtains to make the room darker for sleeping (they are the same ones we use in our bedrooms as well) and it’s a big upgrade for getting good rest in that space.

Use side tables for temporary nightstands: This is another way to use items you already have for your temporary guest room. I always have a few things that I like to keep by my bed when I sleep (eye mask, clock, earplugs, chapstick), so we put side tables next to the bed to act as nightstands for guests so they can keep their essentials within reach too. Once the guests are gone, you can just move the side table back where it was before!

Consider a room divider (or another way to close off the space): When we decided to use a sleeper in our front room for guests, I knew I wanted to close off the space so people could have some privacy during their stay. We had one working “regular” door into the space and one sliding pocket door that wasn’t in great shape, so we had the pocket door repaired so we could close off both doors and keep the room separated when needed. Depending on your setup, you may be able to add a door to give some privacy, but at minimum even a curtain or a room divider can help separate the spaces a bit and make it seem less like they are sleeping in the middle of your living room (even if they are).

Have a table/desk cleared off to hold their personal items: When people come, they bring their stuff with them! Having a coffee table nearby or a desktop open to hold some of their items will give guests a place to put things like toiletry bags or purses. We move our coffee table near the foot of the bed to hold personal items, but you can also get a foldable luggage rack or two to hold suitcases up off the ground like in a hotel if you don’t have other items nearby—fancy!

Cozy extras go a long way! This category is optional but adding cozy items to the temporary bedroom will help it feel more welcoming for guests. I’ve used things like furry blankets on the bed, placed this super comfy soft chair nearby for lounging/reading, and added a super plush rug to the floor to make the space extra inviting. These are all items that I keep in that room anyways, even when it’s not a bedroom. But you can always bring things from other areas in your house to make your guest space the best it can be and then move them back to their normal location once the guests are gone.

There you go! You can see what our space looks like in and out of guest mode and I love that we can have people staying with us comfortably at the drop of a hat. Whether you are hosting over the busy holiday season or just a weekend visit with friends, these tips will help you transform your space into a guest paradise while still giving you all the room you need the rest of the time. For more hospitality tips, check out Elsie’s post on how to set up the ultimate guest room and I hope your next guests leave you a 5 star review! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Any thoughts on a space that has to flip back to being a living space during the day? My daughter & son in law live in a small home where the living room serves as the guest space at night but needs to function for family life the remainder of the time. Where to store the linens, the extra height air bed, pillows, etc? Also, how to have luggage in the space without it looking junky?

  • This is so thoughtful! I don’t have a guest room and have to find ways to make due when hosting guests. I found a lot of this to be very helpful. I’d love to stay in that room!

  • I also recommend a thick memory foam mattress for the sleeper sofa. We bought one on Amazon for $150 or so & adults in their 70s sleep comfortably on it.

  • I love your room! I’m definitely starting to consider a sleeping sofa to up our guest accommodation abilities.

  • These are awesome tips! We don’t have a guest room currently so we made our son’s room into his room, but made it nice enough to act as a guest room should we need it, and it has a queen bed which is really nice!


    • It’s an older set of luggage that my Mom found for me while thrifting!


  • Such a lovely space!! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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