In the last 2 weeks we hosted both grandparents, one great grandma, old friends and almost a rock and roll band – at different times. We keep supplies for 10 sleepers at our 2 bedroom apartment but we haven’t had a max capacity night yet. The rock and roll band would have been, but unfortunately for this blog post, a promotional event came up, so they drove through the night to get there. Who needs sleep when building a rock and roll dream?
My cousin is the drummer in I The Mighty. They played 4 blocks from us at the Amsterdam XXX. It said “all ages show” so we showed up with our 4 and 7 year old. Ear plugs in, perched on shoulders, they are now fans for life.
Another score for being centrally located.
In younger years I crashed on many couches of people living in more interesting places than I did. Karma has come full circle.
I finally appreciate the work involved in hosting. Extra laundry, extra cleaning. Extra joy and fun too!
Here’s how we make it work.
#1 Convertible Bean Bag
Our latest furniture buy is a queen sized Corduroy Bean Bag Chair and Bed in one. It’s enormous, heavy and awkward. Surprisingly we really like it. Unsure it would be a good fit for us, I held out for a Craigslist find. Bringing it home was like a scene from Big Hero 6. I had to squeeze, push and jump to get it in the back of our Prius. Then squeeze and push to get it through halls and doorways. Nobody needs a queen size. I only have it because it was 75% off. Don’t even think of the King or Double King size unless you have a skid loader handy to move it.
That said. The kids love playing on it in their room. I like sitting on it to read bedtime stories. For sleeping, it’s like laying in a giant marshmallow. Verdict is a thumbs up. Still, get a full or two twins if you go this route.
#2 Sofa Bed
We like click clack couches for their low, petite profile (makes a room look larger), simplicity to use, and ease to clean (just run the vacuum over it. No cushions to remove). For sleeping comfort it gets a thumbs down and has been the bed of last resort. Very firm.
#3 Air Mattress
We’ve owned 2 air mattresses. The first was a basic 8″ thick camping mattress, the kids slept on it every night for a year in Nicaragua. During the day we’d lean it on a wall for a poor man’s version of a murphy bed. We left it in Nicaragua and bought a new taller one with a built in pump. We used it exclusively for 2 months before settling in St. Paul. Air beds are surprisingly durable. In hot climates it keeps you cool, in cold climates stay warm by layering thick blankets underneath the sheets as well as above.
Unless you have ceiling height (or tent height) issues, go with the taller bed. It doesn’t take up any more space, older guests will be more comfortable not having to crouch down, and the built in pump makes it super easy to use.
I talked about how the kids sleep Japanese in “How to Make a Small Space Feel Like a Mansion.” The flexibility of sleeping on the floor on a small simple futon mattress makes it easy to mix and match sleeping arrangements. Depending on the company the kids may want sleep with other kids, or with us, or wherever. Moving their beds is a cinch. You don’t need custom sheets for the 30″ wide futons shown here. Regular twin sheets work just fine.
#5 Traditional Bed
I grew up with a “guests get the best” philosophy. We’ve been experimenting with what that means in our small space with only one traditional bed.
In general, seniority rules. Who ever is the oldest gets the room with the normal bed. We will move to the living room or kid’s room depending on what works best.
It’s hard to gage what our guests actually think of this. What do you think? Would you accept the “master bedroom” if it was offered? Or would that be weird? Would you be okay with “kicking out the kids”? Sleeping in the living room doesn’t kick anybody out, but then you don’t have any privacy. We like giving guests one or both bedrooms. It keeps suitcases out of the living room. Guests can close the door for privacy. Going to bed early isn’t a problem if they want too. For us, being displaced for a night is worth the joy of having family and friends around. I’d love your thoughts on this.
Every time we have guests it’s a little different arrangement. Having a variety of portable beds makes that possible.
Keep it clean. Always have hand soap, extra toilet paper, a plunger and toilet brush handy. Be courteous and think of all the sharing as a bonding experience.
Think thin. Our big fluffy towels were donated within months of living in our small space. They take up way too much room in cabinets, on shelves, in the washer, and in the dryer. Plus, they take forever to dry. Life Edited did a great post on towels. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $20+ a towel though. Instead I opted for the towels they use at gyms or hotel swimming pool areas. Small, thin, cheap and totally functional.
Having guests means doing a lot more laundry. Smaller towels make a huge difference in the number of laundry loads you have to do.
Other People’s Stuff
People will come with bags or suitcases. Be sure there is a bench, a shelf, some hooks or a spot on the floor for their things. Guests cause flooding. Leave spillways open for them.
Any ideas I’ve left out? What tricks do you have when guests come?