Create a Space for Long-Term Guests

Six easy-to-follow design tips will help you carve out a comfortable place for parents, grown kids or anyone coming for an extended stay.

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In this handsome chartreuse bedroom by Los Angeles-based designer Jill Sorensen, a mini Parsons desk does double-duty as a super functional nightstand.

Modern Families

The definition of the modern family is dynamic: It continues to change, grow, expand, and influence not only the ways we live, but the places. As a result, our homes are no longer meant to support a single family for the years before the children leave for college. Instead, they've become multigenerational sanctuaries, opening their doors to grandparents or exploring more budget-friendly living arrangements for kids.

So, homeowners have had to get creative — carving out spaces that can accommodate new (and repeat!) inhabitants not only at the drop of a hat, but often for extended stays. These bedrooms have to be not only comfortable but functional, often incorporating universal design elements, plenty of storage, and separate sitting areas and work stations in order to meet the needs of long-term guests. Here are some tips to ensure they'll love your home as much as you do.

Invest in Comfort

A lumpy bed and scratchy sheets might be fine for a fly-by-nighter, but when your guest room takes up permanent residency, an upgrade is definitely in order. At a minimum, spring for 250-thread-count sheets: not only are they softer and cozier but they’re also more durable, which means they’ll hold up to frequent washings much better than their lower-thread-count counterparts and require less replacements down the line.

Create an Escape

It can take a little bit of time for new guests to feel confident enough to treat your home as their own, so designate an area in their bedroom for them to retreat to until they feel more comfortable using the common areas. According to Atlanta-based interior designer James Wheeler, "Often visitors do not want to burden their hosts or feel like they're intruding on their space, so be sure to design your guest room as a place where your guests can go to escape from it all. Elements like a separate reading nook and television in the room can help ease the transition."

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Houston designer Laura Umansky added extra storage to this bright and lovely guest space with a built-in window seat with deep drawers beneath.

Develop a Storage Plan

Everyone has his or her baggage—some more than others! This tongue-in-cheek reminder is good to keep in mind when planning for the needs of a long-term guest. While a spacious nightstand or closet may be enough for your typical weekend visitor, if you arm yourself with the knowledge that the average American woman owns approximately 17 pairs of shoes—according to a survey by ShopSmart magazine—it’s easy to see how vital a good storage plan is in order to keep things from stacking up. In a small room, ditch the platform and opt for a raised bed that will allow space for bins underneath or work with a designer on custom options, like building a window seat with drawers.

Design a Work Zone

For the young professional in your life, a proper, quiet work space for penning cover letters and sending out resumes could be just the thing that makes a difference between landing a plush job after graduation or gearing up for a perpetual spring break. And the best part? You don’t need to have a lot of extra space to spare. Designating a work zone can be as easy as switching out an upholstered bench at the foot of the bed with a slim desk that doesn’t mess with the flow of the room. The ever-versatile Parsons desk also comes in a mini version, which can make a great alternative to a traditional nightstand at the side of the bed.

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A small bistro-style desk and sculptural high-backed chairs offer a sweet retreat in this dreamy room by Los Angeles designer Jeff Andrews.

Give Them the Full Treatment

Making sure your windows are dressed to the nines is an oft-overlooked design element that can make a world of difference. Blackout drapes, in particular, are a must-have in a guest room, especially if your visitor follows an irregular sleep schedule. "Although some people like to get up with the sun, most do not," advises interior designer Jennifer Dyer, of West Hollywood, Calif. "It's important that you make sure the windows are covered properly."

It's All in the Details

Ultimately, the greatest luxury you can provide a long-term guest is the knowledge that they’re welcome fully, wholeheartedly, and for as long as they'd like to stay. Small touches, like a freshly laundered robe, slippers, or a carafe of water left out on the bedside table each night, are a great way to lay claim to a host-with-the-most title.

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