Real Life Advice: Hosting Guests Without a Guestroom

published Apr 17, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Looking through all the Small Cool entries this month has me pining for the small space I used to inhabit — I loved it so much, but I don’t miss the challenge of hosting overnight guests in such a small house. We had one bathroom and one bedroom, and frequent houseguests that would often stay for two or three nights — sometimes more. While we love to host family and friends and put them up when they visit, it can pose a real challenge to keep everyone happy, healthy, and sane.

Here are some things we did to try to ease the impact of crowding lots of people into a small space for days at a time:

1. Have a futon or a daybed instead of a couch. This one is a no-brainer; we pretty much had to have a second bed available, and it helped that it doubled as a couch during the day. For a great list of futon and daybed resources, check out this recent post on Apartment Therapy.

2. Invest in a good air mattress. When a second bed (even in the form of a futon) just isn’t an option, a good quality air mattress can go a long way. I even travel with mine when I’m staying with my best friend who lives in a one bedroom apartment — I don’t want her to fret about where I’ll sleep, and it’s almost like being able to take my own bed with me.

3. Try to have a clear place for your guests to stow their luggage. When the house is crowded with overnight guests, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the extra noise and mess; get a leg up on the disorder by having a good place for your guests to put their things. This will keep suitcases off the kitchen table and give your guests a sense of privacy; it’s easier for them to settle in if there is a spot (even a small one!) that is “theirs.”

4. Do what you can to provide maximum privacy for everyone. You may feel close enough to someone not to worry about privacy too much, but don’t assume they feel the same way. There are things that should always be attended to, especially if you are sharing a bathroom. Simple things like being sure the bathroom door closes and locks, ensuring that there are spare rolls of toilet paper and extra supplies handy in the bathroom (so they can help themselves and not have to ask), and planning ahead to prevent time-management issues can go a long way toward making the visit run smoothly.

5. Be attentive to their schedule, especially if they are sleeping in the living room. Remember that the common area is their bedroom; be sure they aren’t struggling to stay awake while waiting for everyone to clear out so they can go to sleep. Be considerate of their privacy, schedule, and space — even if that means having to turn in early because they are ready for bed. Or if it’s a long visit, and they like to go to bed early, let your bedroom be the “guest room” for the visit, and make your bed in the living room — and stay up as late as you like!

6. Put some bedroom-like touches in your living room. Making a living area into a guest room can be tricky, but think of the few things that make a bedroom convenient and cozy — a lamp next to the sleeping area, a place to plug in cell phones and laptops, and a set of extra pillows, towels, and quilts close at hand.

7. Let some things go. Let the house get messy, be okay with losing a little bit of privacy (and possibly sleep) — put some of your daily routines on the back burner while guests are there. Trying to keep everything going as normal while trying to entertain guests can be very frustrating — keep the things that keep you sane (your morning run, or nightly glass of wine) and let everything else go temporarily. Focus on enjoying your guests and ensuring they are comfortable, and everybody wins.

What are some of your tips for hosting overnight guests in a small space? What’s the largest overnight group you’ve entertained? (For the record, my husband and I and our two dogs have hosted his parents, his sister, her husband, and their dog in our one bedroom, one bathroom, 650 square foot apartment. Yes, that’s six adults and three dogs — and we all survived!)

• 10 Ways to Accommodate Guests in a Small Space
• Small Space Solutions: Making Guests Comfortable WITHOUT a Guestroom
Setting Up a Temporary Guest Room in the Living Room

(Image: Kyle Freeman, Chris & Erin’s Farmhouse Add-On)