5 Things I Have in My Makeshift Guest Room to Keep Visitors Coming Back

published Dec 20, 2023
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When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I had an unexpectedly hard time convincing friends and family to visit. At first I couldn’t figure it out. Why was no one drawn to the food, forests, and tax-free shopping? Admittedly, my family of four lived in a small two-bed, one-bath apartment, but we always gave up our bedroom to guests. Finally my brother said it bluntly: “None of us want to take your room, Meg.” He also told me my bed was too small, but he was wrong; it was just small enough to keep our children from crawling into bed with us (read: the perfect size).

If I want visits from my loved ones (and clearly I do, even from my brutally honest brother), I have to make their nights on our sleeper sofa feel absolutely luxe. These are the five touches that make my living room feel like a guest room. 

Make it dark.

This washable silk sleep mask from Lunya is a splurge, but it’s far less expensive than blackout curtains. I use mine every night, and I love how soft it feels on my face. Thanks to the large size, not one ray of light squeezes through — even on sunny summer mornings.

Keep it quiet.

When my children were tiny and sleep was scarce, I invested in a Yogasleep Dohm white noise machine, and it was worth every penny. Placing it on the living room side table along with a container of disposable ear plugs makes it slightly less likely that my children will wake their uncle when they pour LEGOs onto the floor at 6 a.m. 

Ensure it’s warm.

I grew up in Texas, where everyone in my family kept the indoor temperature a constant 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of my loved ones do not possess the wardrobe or skill to deal with fluctuating temperatures, so I keep a cute mid-century style GAIATOP space heater by the couch for them, along with layers of fleece blankets. I also place a pair of spa slippers by the bed, because our floors are cold at night. 

Provide a little privacy.

My biggest splurge for the living room guest space was a bamboo room divider. It provides a visual barrier from the rest of the living room, making it easier to relax and sleep unselfconsciously. When not in use, it doubles as decor. 

Invest in aromatherapy.

After hours on the road or a plane, falling asleep in a fragrant space is a treat. I love this aromatic spray sold by a local cleaning company, but reed diffusers are another lovely option. I am a huge candle fan, but I opt for something flameless for sleepy guests. If you have the space, an electronic diffuser can double as a nightlight. 

Credit: Meg Asby

It’s all worth the cost.

I spent between $300 and $400 on these supplies over time, but I saved infinitely more in rent by choosing to live in a small apartment. All that economizing made it possible to buy a home in 2019, which includes a guest room with a brother-approved, king-size bed. In the new space, I still use all of these little luxuries during our loved ones’ (now frequent!) visits. 

Looking for more ideas? Guests also love these affordable guest room comforts