Empty-Nest Remodeling Project: Create the Perfect Guest Suite

Brian Hogan
Jun 26, 2021 8:30:00 AM

Sometimes it seems like kids grow up in the blink of an eye — one day they’re teething and wearing diapers, and the next day they’re getting their braces off and learning how to drive. Before you know it, they’ve become young adults who are eager to head out into the world. 

Downstairs guest suite with leather headboard and chair, large picture windows and garden views.

When adult children move away, their “empty-nest” parents are usually faced with a choice: downsize into a smaller, more manageable home, or remodel their existing space so it better suits their new life.

For empty nesters who decide to renovate their homes, carving out a comfortable space for guests is often a top priority. Here’s what it takes to transform a newly vacated bedroom into a welcoming guest suite that feels like a home away from home.  

Guest Room vs. Guest Suite

A well-appointed guest room is a lovely way to host overnight visitors, but a well-designed guest suite takes your overnight, weekend, holiday, and long-term hosting game to a whole new level. 

That’s because a guest suite isn’t just for sleeping — it’s also for relaxing, unwinding, or even getting a bit of work done during unscheduled downtime. Much like a main bedroom suite, a guest suite includes a full bathroom, a sitting area, and plenty of closet and drawer space. 

It’s possible to convert an existing bedroom into a guest suite if there’s a bathroom close by; it’s also possible to remove walls between unused bedrooms to create a more spacious guest suite. 

Provide Ample Storage Space 

Whether your guests plan to visit for one night or several weeks, having a place to store their clothes, shoes, and other items can go a long way toward making them feel welcome; no one wants to live out of a suitcase when they’re away from home. 

At a minimum, your guest suite should include an empty closet or freestanding wardrobe that’s outfitted with a rod, hangers, shelves, and at least one or two drawers. If you have the space, a freestanding dresser or a built-in cabinet with drawers provides additional storage capacity for multiple guests or long-term guests. 

Include Seating and Workspace

Even if you’re the kind of host who likes to plan virtually every moment of your visit with family and friends, it’s thoughtful to provide a private place where your guests can relax, recharge, or attend to personal responsibilities (like those never-ending emails from work) as needed. 

While you can create a temporary “quiet” zone for visitors in a corner of your living room, it’s much nicer for your guests if that space is contained within their room. 

It can be as simple as setting a comfortable chair and ottoman along with a small table in the corner, or it can be as elaborate as installing a built-in desk along one wall and arranging an entire seating area on the other side of the room. 

Bedroom suite with television, desk and bathroom.

Offer Entertainment Options

No matter how long they’re going to stay or how much of their visit is scheduled in advance, overnight guests are usually in their room and on their own at the end of the day, just before bedtime. Some people may prefer to head straight to sleep, but plenty of others like to read, listen to music, or watch a little television before heading off to dream land.  

A smart TV that gives your guests access to their favorite streaming channels can be much appreciated when everyone’s ready to retire for the day. If you don’t like the idea of spoiling a relaxing guest space with visible technology, you can hide flatscreen TVs in a cabinet, behind a sliding panel, beneath a bi-fold painting, or with another ingenious design solution. 

A smart sound system that responds to voice command can be equally enjoyable, providing energizing tunes as they get ready each morning and soothing soundscapes just before they turn in each night. 

It’s All About the Details

When designing your guest space, consider who you’re hosting (individuals, couples, families, or all the above) as well as how often you plan to host them. You may opt to go with one large bed in a single suite, or you may be better off dividing your space into two smaller rooms that contain multiple beds.   

Including amenities like a smart TV, a wireless sound system, a cozy reading nook, or even a compact wet bar can provide added comfort for long-term and short-term visitors alike, but it’s the basic elements of a guest suite that truly make the most difference. 

A comfortable bed, extra linens, towels, and toiletries, well-placed task lighting for guests who like to read, and room-darkening window treatments are a few details that you always want to get right, no matter how large or luxurious your guest suite happens to be.   

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