How to Create a Cosy Guest Room (even when you live in a shoebox)

 Sara Emslie maximises storage in this London spare room 

Sara Emslie maximises storage in this London spare room 

By Jo McCarthy - Interiors Editor

IKEA PREDICTS THAT BY 2050, 70% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION WILL BE LIVING IN CITIES - A RISE OF 20% FROM TODAY.

The average UK home is already the smallest in Europe at just 85m2. How on earth are we meant to host guests in our bijou city pads? 

We have rounded up some practical ideas to help you create a clever and cosy guest space in your home, no matter how small it might be. So if the phone rings over the next few weeks asking for you to host the holiday guests...don't panic! 

IF YOU HAVE A SPARE ROOM

Wahoo lucky you! I'm guessing that the room probably functions as something else as well, perhaps a workspace, hobby room, general dumping ground? Consider this example of a spare room from London-based interior stylist and writer Sara Emslie. Baskets under the bed can store extra linen and towels, and the furniture is kept light which makes the small room feel airy. Keep the tabletop clutter stashed away in wire baskets. 

I asked Brighton-based interior designer Jo Frances how she transformed this mini 6.7ft x 9.5ft spare room into a welcoming space (pictured below). "The brightness of the room, the wardrobe behind the door and the space-saving radiator make the space work". I love the simple palette of neutrals with pops of bright blue. It looks ready for even the fussiest of guests! 

 A brilliant guest space by Brighton-based interiors obsessive Jo Frances @jellwell 

A brilliant guest space by Brighton-based interiors obsessive Jo Frances @jellwell 

Shopping list -  follow the links to recreate these looks:

  • Under bed baskets: The Holding Company has some well-made rattan options 
  • Wire baskets: try H&M.
  • Beautiful blankets: I am rather obsessed with the work of Sian o'Doherty, who makes gorgeous Welsh blankets that your guests will love to snuggle under.
  • Add to the comfort of your guest room with lovely pillows. My current favourites are the AALTO cushion from online shop Firain, and the Marfa cushion by Ren London

IF YOU NEED TO MAKESHIFT 

Living in London has so many perks but a lack of space at home is not one of them. If you need to squeeze a guest space into the lounge or one of the kids bedrooms, these ideas are for you: 

Air mattresses are your friend. Okay, you'll know plenty of guests who will cringe about sleeping on an air mattress but they have come a long way and you need to make sure yours has high quality air chambers to stop those midnight deflations. With an inflation time of just 5 minutes (great for those "we forgot they were coming" crises), the Hi-Rise Double Flocked Airbed from camping specialists Vango will do the trick. You can even get a bed with a headboard. Inflated and dressed like a normal bed, your overnight guests will be very comfortable and when deflated, the mattress packs away into a small pouch

Sleeper sofas are also a great idea if you know you will have regular guests. We've just bought this one from ASDA which does the trick as it forms part of our living room setup. Having a decent mattress to plonk on top is what stops it feeling like a substitute for a real bed. IKEA has some great options which can stay rolled up until you need them. 

 Trolley dolly...load it up with useful guest items and move it to wherever it needs to be!

Trolley dolly...load it up with useful guest items and move it to wherever it needs to be!

I like to have a guest trolley with essential supplies on it that can be wheeled around the flat depending on where people stay. Flowers, your favourite Join candle, essential toiletries (in case your guests forget theirs) and spare towels and blankets can all go on the trolley. Maybe a nightcap or at least bottled water could make it on there too. Make a little note of the WIFI code and provide extra cables for devices. 

Shopping list: 

  • Trolleys are everywhere. This one pictured is the RASKOG from IKEA. I use it in the kitchen when its not a guest space workhorse! 
  • Use quick-drying Turkish towels for your guests. Right now, Hammamas have a 50% off sale on their towels. Go! 
  • Beautiful soaps always look nice and make your guests feel special. These are from Bare Soap and the Isle of Skye Soap Co

What guest room tips do you have to share?