For Toronto interior designer Natalie Chong, no space is too small to accommodate overnight visitors. At Nest Design Studio, she often designs diminutive domains — including her own one-bedroom condo — that can easily be rearranged to entertain friends and family in comfort and style. Here are her top tips to shoehorn guests into a shoebox.
1. Pull out all the stops
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“Invest in a great pull-out couch when space and budget allow. It doesn’t matter if the frame is wood or steel; the key is that it’s easy to unfold and solidly built, with a comfortable, high-quality mattress. (Tempur-Pedic, preferably, because even when it’s thin, it’s still cushy).” A plush sofa bed — like my faves, which come from a brand called American Leather — costs $2,000 and up. But that still could be less expensive than buying a good mattress and a good couch separately.
2. Cover your bases
“When you set the bed, you set the tone. The trick to making your guests feel comfy is to use a cushioning mattress cover and really soft sheets that will make them feel like they’re staying at a posh resort.” My favourites are the satin-y, silk-y one from the Hotel Collection, which make you feel like you’re staying at a posh resort. You can find at the Bay (I buy them during Bay Days so I never pay the full cost).
3. Plump up the volume
“When it comes to making your guests feel at home, don’t overlook the pillows. (You can get good, affordable ones at HomeSense.) I recommend having four pillows: two long, firm ones that can double as a makeshift backrest (in lieu of the headboard if you have a blow-up mattress), and two smaller, softer ones to sleep on. I prefer down or synthetic down — they’re breathable, so they won’t get too hot.”
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4. Look for nooks
“Scour your home for furniture that can serve a dual purpose. Side tables can easily be converted into bedside tables, and storage ottomans make excellent spots to keep clothes and towels. Stash empty suitcases in the space underneath the sofa bed.”
5. Think independently
“When hosting overnight guests, privacy is always an issue. But buying temporary room dividers, which can start at a couple of hundred dollars for a foldaway wall screen and go up to several thousand dollars for a custom curtain system, might not be worth it if they’re only around for a day or two. It’s better to focus on making guests feel as self-sufficient as possible. I like putting out a carafe of water with some glasses, and a basket of healthy snacks. I also set out a picture frame with the WiFi and the password and put it near their bed. That way they don’t need to ask for everything they need, and feel like they can go about their business as they would at home — even if they’re sleeping in my living room.