Room To Spare: Creating a Great Guest Room

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Room To Spare: Creating a Great Guest Room

Checklist for a great guest room

It’s easy enough to imagine how to make a guest in your home happy. Simply envision replicating a well-designed hotel room— essentially a clean, functional, uncluttered box with a comfortable bed, efficient lighting, and useful, good-looking accessories.

“In reality, that may be a challenge to create in most homes,” says Kathy Davey, head of interior design for Ikea Canada, “in part because the vacant bedroom, whose sole purpose is serving guests, is now an anomaly.”

A convertible daybed turns any space into a guest quarters. This one is Brimnes, IKEA.

“It’s become a catch-all, used for fitness, storage, or work—a real multi-purpose space,” says Davey, adding that such a room will have to be flexible if it’s going to accommodate visitors.


For Davey, that starts with organization. She suggests putting what guests won’t need into short-term, functional storage—an ottoman that can serve as a footstool or bedside table, or pretty but sturdy boxes that can stand in a corner and hold a lamp with wireless charging or a small-charging station. At the very least, free up a wall outlet so guests can charge their devices.

Discreet and handsome hooks help guests stay organized.


Blackout liners for curtains will help jet-lagged guests adjust, and an inexpensive full-length mirror is a nice touch.

Wall hooks keep guests organized. For these and other clever accessories, check out the sleek, subtle line from New York-based Good Thing, which recently launched at select EQ3 stores.

A daybed that pulls out into a queen delivers the flexibility Davey likes in a spare room. Ikea’s own Brimnes bed, which functions as chaise, sofa, storage unit, and single or double bed, fits the bill.

Twin mattresses can separate for flexible sleeping arrangements.

If there’s room for a full-time mattress, new “bed in a box” models are convenient and affordable. Made-in-Canada Endy, for example, ships in a package about the size of a hockey bag (you have 100 nights to decide if you like it). For a spare room, consider getting two extra-long twins. Pushed together, they measure the same as a king size, making them a flexible choice.


Older beds can benefit from a topper (also available at Ikea), and remember that while inexpensive pillows may be suitable for decorative purposes, or to prop oneself up for reading, each guest should get one good-quality sleeping pillow. Linens don’t need to be extravagant, just seasonally appropriate and freshly laundered. Lightweight wool blankets and quilts (aired on an outdoor line for a day before use, if possible) will be easier to store than bulky duvets.

Mattress toppers make even sofas suitable for sleep.

If the only space for guests is a condo living room, a daybed or a memory-foam mattress that can be rolled up and stored are good options, says Davey. To increase privacy, don’t put guests in high-traffic areas, and consider using a room divider or open bookcase as a visual barrier. A bar cart can be emptied to do occasional double duty for a night table/storage space.

“Little touches make a space feel special,” says Davey, so place hand cream, a water carafe, a bar of good chocolate, and a room spray or scented candle on a tray to add to the five-star environment.

Vicky Sanderson

SOURCES Ikea.ca, EQ3.com, Endy.com, cardeaauset.com, supergoodthing.com


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