Monday, December 7, 2009

The Guest Bed Conundrum

For some folks in The Heights, the guest bed situation is not a conundrum. Some of you, undoubtedly, can devote an entire room to the comfort of your guests. Lucky you!

Others of us don't have that luxury. Some of us have kids and/or home offices that fill up any extra bedrooms we have.

What about me? Well, I live in a meager two bedroom, one bath house. As a first-time home-buyer whose income comes squarely from the non-profit sector, my partner and I could only afford a comfy, cozy little place in The Heights. We don't have kids yet, so our extra room houses our home office (and a chair for our bloodhound to curl up in). The room isn't big enough to contain a real bed, and we don't have house guests that often.

However, we enjoy when friends come to visit (our families generally opt for B&Bs in the neighborhood), and when they do, we want them to be comfortable.

So, what are some options for comfortably housing guests in cramped quarters? Here are a few we've explored:
  1. Air Mattresses: Air mattresses are, theoretically, the ideal solution. When fully inflated, they can be incredibly comfortable. There are even double-decker air mattresses that offer the promise of even more comfort and a more authentic bed experience. Plus, when you let the air out, they are small enough to stow away in the corner of a closet (or a cabinet, if you're not so blessed in the closet department). I say "theoretically" because we have never had good luck with air mattresses, after years of trying. Even after doing extensive internet research to identify highly-recommended brands and models, we still end up with guests who are almost sleeping on our wood floors in the morning, due to constant leaking. Ouch!
  2. Murphy Beds: Murphy beds are an interesting solution. They are real beds that fold up into a cabinet when they are not in use. This option is great for converting an office into a veritable guest bedroom in a matter of minutes. The major downsides are cost and aesthetics, although this one from hacked IKEA parts is pretty cool.
  3. Fold-Out Couches & Futons: Apparatuses that primarily serve as seating but then swoop in to function as beds as needed can be quite handed. Matt and I looked into the West Elm couch above, as well as some options at IKEA. In the end, we realized we basically don't even have space for a couch/futon with a full-size mattress.
So, we opted for a hybrid solution. We decided to buy a futon mattress but store it under our bed when it wasn't in use. We figured it would provide the best of many worlds: affordable, comfortable, storable.

Well, it turns out that a $139 futon mattress from IKEA is quite fluffy. Too fluffy, in fact, to store under our low-to-the-ground bed.

Oy vey.

The search for more storage space in a small house began.

We do have ample closet space, but we don't have a garage, so our closets already store our bikes, lawn mowers, etc. We tried the attic, but a futon really is a lot like lugging around a dead body. It became too perilous too quickly.

Our last resort was to store it under one of the tables in our office. Of course its bulky, beige mass is aesthetically traumatizing under there, but we have a solution. The plan is to hang a suspension rod between the legs of the table and hang some fabric from it. Voila!

Any other creative solutions for making guests comfy in a small home?


  1. I don't understand what this has to do with life in the Heights? I love to read about people and stores and events in the area, but there are several posts like this about your own home projects that seem like mere filler.

  2. ^Anon,

    Yes, this is a blog about The Heights and many people who live in the neighborhood live in small spaces. I can't speak for Sara but I would guess the purpose of her post could be to start a dialogue about how people live in smaller, Heights style homes.

    Thanks for reading and hopefully we will continue to hold your interest as there are many fun items on deck!


  3. @ Anon: I'm sorry you feel like my posts about home projects are "mere filler." I try to only include the ones that are potentially relevant to a larger audience within The Heights: restoring wood siding, redoing a front walkway, designing a fence, making the most of small spaces. With two different authors and a range of topics (from businesses to parks to wacky events), this blog hopefully has a little something for everyone.

  4. What style is your bed? We bought a set of risers from Target that raised ours a foot or so off of the ground--created a lot of extra storage space in our little bungalow. They cost ~$10 for a set of four.

  5. @ Anonymous: Oh! What a great solution (and an inexpensive one at that). Unfortunately, we have the IKEA wooden frame bed that is low to the ground and can't accommodate a bed skirt, so I don't think those would work. But thank you so much for chiming in. That's a great solution for a lot of other folks. Extra storage under the bed can be really helpful. Happy Wednesday to you!

  6. Does anyone know what a good murphy bed frame would run? I am curious to know, on average. We have the luxury of a third bedroom in the Heights, but I'd like the room to do more than serve as a temple to guests, sitting empty in the meantime. Anyhow, I'd like to have it built by a craftsperson, but would like to have an idea of what others have paid before I talk to carpenters.

  7. @ Anonymous: I'm not sure how much they run when you have them custom-built, but if you get a couple different quotes, I'm sure you'll quickly see what the range is. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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