“The Guest Suite”

May 2013

My mother told me many years ago that relatives, guests, and uncooked fish had one thing in common, that being that they start becoming a problem after three days. While all of us have enjoyed folks staying longer, the three day rule works well for most guests. To this end I will address several aspects and their individual needs to your guest suite.

First consideration is whether this space will be a singular designated suite, or share as a flex space. We will address the flex space first and offer options according to the primary and daily usage of the room.

Children’s Bedroom: This is indeed the most common “Guest Suite” for most families and can be made into a simple and very comfortable Guest Room for a short time. We can approach this application simply by having Junior “bunk” in with his brother for a night or two. Additionally you can possibly have two beds that doubles as a lounge in one of the children’s bedroom that will allow for a couple to use when visiting. Try to have this bedroom be the closest to a bathroom for easy access for the guests.

Office/Study: This room can truly become a flex room far easier than others when you have enough space to house a sofa bed or a built-in Murphy bed, Both of these options offer the primary use of the room to go uninterrupted until the occasion presents itself. Plan this room early in the design process and place yourself as a guest into this space. Respond to what you feel would be “necessary” to enjoy the visit. Another suggestion is to actually “visit” or have a “sleep over” in the finished space to determine what convenience items you might want as a guest. Again the distance to the bathroom, upstairs verses main level, proximity to the kitchen, all of these are for you to think about and solve within your budget and personal experiences.

A Primary Guest Suite: This is for the family that experiences several guest visitors many times in a relatively short period of time. Additionally, one must be able to decorate a room or suite to be utilized randomly. Should the budget allow this, then by all means plan this into the home from the conception. A well appointed guest suite will have a full bath adjacent to the bedroom and normally this bath is totally dedicated to guests. An option here is to design the bath with the primary usage being the powder with dual access for guests. Again creating a measure of separation yet allowing for a more cost effective approach to the budget and use of space. When I work on a guest suite and the budget allows for the amenities that I will describe, I approach this space as working on a nice hotel room. Again, follow your own instinct and past experience with traveling and staying in different hotels. I travel often working with clients in many parts of our country and have stayed in many great suites. My wife, Dianne and I are very prudent when booking the room as I don’t want to “over pay” for a good night’s rest. Using this guideline you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on this space to make it comfortable. Should the budget allow you some room, have fun working toward duplicating many of the amenities in your “favorite” hotel room.

A wish list for the suite may look like this:

  • Convenience bar or table for coffee and tea.
  • Assorted snacks for the guests enjoyment.
  • A flat screen of course…
  • Computer hook up or wireless access.
  • Small desk with chair and a correct desk lamp.
  • Reading material might include regional attractions and amenities.
  • Spare toiletries, special spa shampoo and soaps.
  • Upscale linens.
  • King or minimum queen size bed with pillow top cover as a possibility.
  • A small sitting area with a love seat if space allows.
  • Small efficient closet with several wood hangars. Additionally create shelving here to accommodate luggage.
  • Small dresser or cabinet for guests to unload the luggage and be more at home and organized.
  • Separate entry to the outside for the guests to come and go with minimum interruption to the homeowner if possible.

These items are all useful and can keep our guests happy and able to further enjoy time spent with you. Of course I’m sure you would never forget the Godiva, rose, and handwritten note of welcome from your family.

I was just finishing a trip in Florida visiting a client and he was giving us a tour around their present home so I could further understand their lifestyle. I spotted a pool house in the backyard and it brought to mind a past client taking one very similar and turning this small and simple space into a separate Guest Suite. This little house was done so well and recycled a space seldom used anymore as all of the children of the family had grown and left home. I have seen several “outbuildings” modified into Guest Suites, and in most applications they turned out very well. I have visited vacant attics, sections of a garage area, well house, silo, small potato shed, barns, and even a sheep herders wagon with its own “out house.”

When you are working on this space have fun, get creative, think like a guest and create a Guest Suite or Casita that your guests will remember fondly.

Should you have any questions or want to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me at www.kenpieper.com

Until next time. Enjoy the process.


Ken Pieper



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