What To Do With A Tiny Second Bedroom?

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From a friend of mine who just purchased her first apartment:

Q. I also now have a tiny second bedroom that’s about 8×10. We don’t necessarily want to make it a all-the-time bedroom (no baby plans right now!), but want to have some kind of guest sleeping option. Murphy bed? Day bed? Fold-out couch?

Your post [about your bonus room makeover] mentioned that you struggled with this too. Did you ever solve the guest sleeping situation, or did that concept get ditched in favor of using the room solely as an office?

A. The hardest thing about moving across from the country is being away from my parents and some of our closest friends, so it was really important to us that we have a comfortable space for our guests to stay in when they visit. Except…we don’t have a massive house, and it’s not like people are staying with us every weekend, so dedicating an entire room to that purpose didn’t make sense – we knew we’d get way more use out of a home office and/or a playroom, so we decided to prioritize making the space as functional as possible while still finding a way to make our place feel welcoming for guests.

When we were redoing our bonus room (if you missed the video, check it out here) we briefly considered installing a Murphy bed, but discovered that they’re expensive to custom-make, and that pre-made ones can look pretty clunky. What we ultimately decided to do was put a futon in our daughter’s room, and have her sleep in a portable crib in the office/playroom when we have visitors (we installed a curtain rod so that we can hang blackout curtains when she’s sleeping in there, and then remove them when she’s not).

For your situation, though, what I would personally do is make your second bedroom an office/library/whatever so that you can actually get a lot of use out of it on a day-to-day basis, and then, for visitors, invest in either one or both of the following:

  1. A chair (as opposed to a couch) that pulls out to a twin-sized bed, which will take up way less space than a futon. (Why not a futon? I find that I never sit on ours – if I’m going to sit somewhere, I’m going to sit on our real couch in the living room – and I don’t love the idea of having a large piece of furniture that doesn’t get used all that much taking up valuable floor space.)
  2. A good-quality air mattress and a really nice mattress pad (speaking from personal experience: mattress pads make an ENORMOUS difference, especially on inexpensive mattresses).

If you have a single guest, they can sleep on the pullout chair, and if you have a couple visiting they can either do one on the chair and one on the mattress, or both on the mattress. I’ve hosted guests on an air mattress before, and if you add thoughtful touches before their arrival – make the bed up with really nice linens, nice pillows, a throw blanket, maybe a little side table with water and a lamp – it doesn’t feel “air mattress-y” at all. I also strongly recommend picking up blackout curtains (or just very thick, dark curtains) if you have a window in the room – your guests will appreciate not getting woken up at the crack of dawn. If you don’t like the look of them, you can always hang sheers most of the time and just swap in blackouts when you have visitors.

Good luck, and congrats again on your new space!

Some more home office/guest bedroom inspiration below, just for fun.

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