A hybrid guest room/home office is smart — just make sure the space is warm and welcoming to guests.

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Hosting houseguests can be a challenge under the best of circumstances. Having a well-designed, private space for them is a huge help, but many homeowners don’t have a dedicated room just for that.

“Realistically, most people don’t have guests every week,” says interior designer Betsy Burnham, founder of Burnham Design in Los Angeles, so many create hybrid guest room/home office spaces, or blend a guest room with a playroom or crafting room.

The challenge is making the space warm and welcoming to guests but functional for other needs.

Here, Burnham, small-space design expert Kathryn Bechen and Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of the design firm Flynnside Out Productions, offer advice as the holiday visitor season approaches.


If your home office will double as your guest room, Flynn suggests designing a creative workstation that doesn’t feel like a corporate office.

Instead of employing identical nightstands, try mixing and matching bedside furniture, he says, “letting one of them be a desk or console table to double as a workstation.”

And you may not want a queen-size bed dominating your workspace. Burnham notes that there are many comfortable sofa beds and daybeds these days. Decorate with structured cushions that give the appearance of a sofa by day, but are easily stowed.


Another way to make a home office feel like a welcoming guest room is using color “to personalize the space and draw you in to rest,” says Flynn. “I use blue-grays and gray-greens because they’re soft and relaxing.”

He also suggests using a range of textures in upholstery, bedding and floor coverings. For example, “Mix super-nubby textures like boucle that feel good on your feet with sleek ones like silk and satin.”

If the room has a bed with a less-than-luxurious mattress, add softness with plush blankets, bed pillows and high-thread-count sheets. A sheepskin instantly warms up a guest room floor, Burnham says.

Too many throw pillows on a sofa or bed, however, can be a nuisance for guests to remove each night and rearrange in the morning. So stick with a few luxurious ones that add beauty and comfort.


If the room includes a closet, leave it partially empty so that guests will have a place for suitcases and other items. And if the closet is deep enough, Flynn suggests placing a dresser inside. Guests can have access to one or more drawers, and use the top as a vanity.

Also consider adding a storage ottoman or trunk to the room for hiding blankets and pillows, so you won’t have to gather them from elsewhere in the house when a guest is arriving. Keep an attractive empty box or basket on hand to gather work items for temporary relocation.