How to Host Overnight Guests Even When You Have No Room

One bedroom? Not a problem.

December 14, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

If you live (or have ever lived) in a city apartment, you know that spare bedrooms are few and far between. Even when a second bedroom is in play, it’s usually home to a desk, a stationary bike, an extra rug, holiday decor, and maybe a futon for guests to sleep among your ancillary items.

I currently reside in a one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City with a farty little French bulldog, a (luckily) very neat boyfriend, an outsized collection of power tools and DIY supplies, and more decor than an apartment of this size will ever need. We also have room for a sectional couch, which feels like a luxury, compared to the shoebox-sized apartments across the river in Manhattan. It’s also where any guests we host sleep for the night, because I loathe an air mattress.

I’ve learned a couple things about hosting in a small space, though, which I will generously share with you now… just in case you decide to invite me over for a night and try 'em out.

Always Put Out Pillows and a Sheet

You could have the comfiest couch in the world, but no one gets a good night’s sleep with their body directly on top of it. Laying down a sheet is crucial for home-away-from-home coziness, because, well, it feels more like a bed. This is especially true if you have a leather couch, which has a propensity to cause all kinds of night sweats. Sure, your queen-size fitted sheet doesn’t fit on your couch, but if you do a good enough job of tucking it around and under the cushions, it’ll stay put with even the most vicious tossing and turning. Not only is it cozy, it also protects your couch from sweat, makeup, or any accidental drink spills that might happen in the night.

The same goes for pillows and blankets—the more like actual bedding they are, the better. Gone are the days of college when falling asleep anywhere was a given—we’re adults, now, and sleep (for some horrible reason) is more difficult than ever. A fluffy comforter and two pillows (housed in pillowcases, obvs) are essential in creating a we-really-wanted-you-to-stay-over environment. And yes, this means your couch, throw pillows, and blanket will not suffice for more than a mid-afternoon nap. Bonus points for a top sheet, too!

Keep Dedicated Bedding Clean

This might be difficult in a small apartment, but take it from me, who had an entire drawer in my dresser devoted to bedding, it can be done. I probably have more sheets, duvet covers, and comforters than the average person, but all you really need are 2-3 sets to keep your bed clothed and an extra set ready to go.

Consider a Specialized Bedding Kit

We have a Burrow couch, which has a modular and decidedly millennial ethos. The purveyors of these couches know that their clientele are likely young-ish adults in smaller spaces, which is why they created the sleep kit to fit perfectly with their couches. It comes with a memory foam pad, a fitted sheet (with a phone pocket!), blanket, pillow, and sleep mask to cover all the bases. It all rolls up into a bag about the size of a sleeping bag, so we stash it in the hall closet when not in use. We’ve tried it on other kinds of couches, too, and while the fit isn’t as perfect, it can be finagled to work just as well.

Photo by Burrow

Set Out a Fan and Extra Blanket

Just because I like a numbing temperature in my bedroom at night doesn’t mean all my friends do too. That’s why I try to prepare for the inevitable by putting out both a fan and an extra blanket to cover all temperature bases. This way, your guest isn’t waking up drenched in sweat or with frozen limbs and chattering teeth.

Make Sure They Know How to Switch Things Off

If your lights are controlled with Alexa or an oddly-placed switch, make sure your guest knows this before you go to bed. This way, you won’t have to worry about leaving them lying awake in a bright room because they were unable to figure out the lights. Beyond the lights, make sure they know how to work your TV remote (it’s silly, but important!) and how to get to their favorite streaming service or channel.

Maybe Get an Air Mattress?

Okay maybe I’m… unfairly harsh on air mattresses. Maybe there are ones on the market that don’t deflate in the middle of the night, leaving your poor, unsuspecting guests to wake up on the cold, hard floor. And maybe there are ones that are actually comfortable, and don’t cause two people to gradually roll towards each other in the middle until they’re unhappily intertwined. If they exist, and you’ve experienced their success firsthand, please let me know.

Ask 17 Times if They Need Anything

Most people don’t want to feel like a bother in your home, which means even if you did already ask if they need something, they might be holding onto an ask for a sleep mask because they don’t want to inconvenience you. So ask again. And again. They’ll be grateful you did.

Do you have any special practices for hosting overnight guests? Tell us in the comments below!

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  • Maurine Hainsworth
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    Caroline Mullen
When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Maurine H. December 15, 2021
Thank you for this! So agree on the air mattress. We actually have one, but it is a total living room takeover any time we use it haha. Also, give Jersey City a hug for me—I miss it!
Erika H. December 14, 2021
What a click-bait, meet-a-quota post.
Caroline M. December 14, 2021
Ouch! I really thought I was being helpful, Erika!
Christina P. December 14, 2021
I have an inflatable bed that has legs that extend as the bed inflates so it is at regular bed height. It's ok on it's own but I do have a foam pad to warm it up.. The downside is the uninflated bed is the size of a large suitcase and it's pretty heavy. So it's an A on comfort C- or storability.
Caroline M. December 14, 2021
That’s my other inflatable issue! I don’t have a place to store a big ol’ air mattress.