Many people who work from home and occasionally host family staying overnight probably would prefer a separate room for each function. But the problem is a lot of those people have only one extra room instead of two.

So they have to combine a home office and a guest room into one space.

We asked Gabriela Gargano, owner of Grisoro Designs in New York, for tips on how to design and decorate a room so that it works equally well as a guest room and as a functional workspace. Here’s what Gargano wrote in an email:

Start with a list of requirements for the office. What type of storage do you need for the office? Is it filing cabinets or bookcases? Do you need space for a printer and other technology? Having a good grasp of the functionality you require will allow you to design a space that’s optimal for you.

Play around with different layouts. Ideally, the bed will face the entry to the room, so that your guests have a warm welcome into the space. However, if your room has an unusual layout, it’s worth exploring other options. As they say, measure twice, cut (or design) once. It can be very helpful to use painters’ blue tape to create your floor plan in the room and make sure there’s enough space for each piece to function properly and have a nice flow.

Get creative with multifunctional pieces. If you don’t have room for nightstands and a dresser, consider using a low chest of drawers as a nightstand instead. If you don’t have the width for standard 24-inch-wide nightstands, consider small side tables with wall-mounted sconces or pendants. Storage platform beds are another great option when space is limited and keeps things looking tidy.


Hidden storage for your office. Consider furnishings that offer closed or hidden storage. A roll-top desk, bookcases with doors or wall-mounted cabinets can all provide an array of functional storage while allowing you to hide a mess when your guests arrive. Companies such as String or USM also provide modular components that are easy to repurpose as your needs change over time. Finally, if you have a large enough closet, you can also modify that into a great workspace with built-ins and then easily close the doors when guests arrive. For a smaller closet, consider splitting it between office storage and hanging space for guests.

Add multiple lighting sources. We typically gravitate toward soft, warm lighting for a bedroom and brighter light for an office. Selecting a variety of lighting sources for a multifunctional room is key. Perhaps include recessed lighting and a center pendant so that you have bright, functional light when the room serves as an office or moodier lighting when it’s a bedroom. Floor lamps and sconces are also a great way to add style and varied light.

Budget for high-quality bedding and accessories. Luxurious bedding and a cozy rug can help turn any room into a chic oasis. When creating a budget for your office/guest room, be sure to allocate enough money for high-quality bedding, pillows and a mattress. Adding in a beautiful blanket creates depth and texture and keeps your guests comfortable if they feel cold. A soft rug under the bed is not only aesthetically pleasing but also helps separate the bedroom from the office.

Create a unified color and material palette. It’s important to make the room feel like a holistic space, instead of a bedroom and an office squished into one room. To do so, gather your ideas on one page to make sure they make sense together. For example, if you’re leaning toward a walnut desk with mid-century details, be sure to include some of those elements in the bedroom furnishings – perhaps the bed frame is also walnut, or incorporate vintage lamps for the side tables. We highly recommend planning the full space before purchasing any items, just in case your vision or layout changes along the way.

Details to make your guests feel at home. Small details such as providing a charging cord, a glass for water and the WiFi password are examples of things that make your guests feel comfortable. Those thoughtful details go a long way!