When you live somewhere as wonderful as Smith Mountain Lake, you can expect visitors. Lots of them. A weekend with extended family, Fourth of July with your neighbors back in Lynchburg (and their four children!), an annual reunion with your eight best friends from college or a poker weekend with the guys…all are cause for celebration. But at the end of the day filled with fun and sun, everyone is going to need a place to rest their weary heads. How can you accommodate all these visitors with a smile, embracing a “the more the merrier” attitude, while still providing everyone with a comfortable, private place to catch some zzzs?
Whether you live here full time or call Smith Mountain Lake your home away from home, chances are you have put some thought into guest quarters. You probably have a guest room or two, but could always use a few more beds for those bigger visits. Whatever your housing scenario, we offer some tips to help you rethink your sleeping spaces.
Transformed for Guests
For starters, the easiest way to accommodate guests is with the space and the furniture you already have. The key to comfort here is two-fold: great bedding, and privacy. Buy the best guest bedding you can afford; a nice thread count, new fluffy pillows and a cushy mattress topper go a long way in making your guests forget they are sleeping on your second-best mattress, a pull-out sofa or an air mattress. Sleeper sofas have come a long way in terms of comfort, whether they are the primary piece in your family or rec room, or tucked away in a guest room or office. Double-decker air mattresses, or those built on a frame that unfolds with the flick of a switch, make the feel of sleeping on a raft a thing of the past.
For a soft spot that’s a stylish step up from a sleeping bag, check out the “throwbed” by Hedgehouse. Something like a chichi camp mattress, this comfy pouf can be rolled up and tucked away, or left spread out on a bench as a cushion. Their patterns—classic ticking and campy stripes—are a perfect addition to lakeside décor.
Whatever temporary bedding you offer you guests, they will feel most comfortable if they have a sense of privacy. If your guests will be sleeping anywhere but a room with a door, a standing screen is the easiest way to create a room-within-a-room. Your guests will appreciate this simple barrier against the hustle and bustle of a busy household that’s winding down or gearing up for another day of fun.
There’s something universally appealing—to children anyway—about the bunk bed. They’re fun. And bunkrooms are a great solution for packing in as many beds as possible, putting that precious vertical space into play. Make use of the room’s corners, situating two sets of bunks in an L-shape to minimize the beds’ footprint and maximize floor space for playing.
Keep the rest of the décor in the room simple; there’s really no need for bulky dressers or end tables if this is a special occasion sleeping spot for youngsters. Low baskets that slide under the bed provide great storage for your guests’ bags or extra bedding, and easy bed skirts will hide this storage gear.
Bunkrooms don’t have to be limited to sleeping the young. Consider bunks that have a double or even a queen as the bottom bunk for the parents, and a child can sleep up top. Throw a trundle beneath the bottom bunk and you might have a cozy space that would be appropriate for a family with young children.
And a bunkroom doesn’t have to mean double-decker beds. Consider lining up twin beds head to head, along the walls or even down the middle of the room, dormitory style. This works particularly well in a top-story room with dormered ceilings that make traditional two-story bunks impossible. In fact, if you really love the idea of bunks, and have the benefit of a blank palette and a clever contractor, you can really get creative with custom bunks. Loft beds, elevated and built with storage underneath (think drawers, shelves with baskets, alcoves for playing), allow you make the most of your lakehouse guest space, particularly for your young visitors.
Also, think outside the bunkroom; consider tucking bunks in unexpected places, like a hallway or upstairs landing, where you can line the walls with private berths akin to sleeping cars on a train. Decorative molding and sleek built-in ladders can make these bunks an architectural feature in your home. Choose an eggshell or glossy paint, and employ pretty curtains for each berth, and you’ve created a personal hideaway that is sure to delight guests young and old. Go all out and install sconces in each space so occupants can read their way to sleep.
Whatever your bunk situation, remind yourself that bunks are not the place for elaborate, fussy bedding. Making a bunk bed can be a daunting task that takes the fun out of the design. Though purists may balk at the idea, consider using only a bottom, fitted sheet, and a washable quilt or blanket as the top cover. Many kids thrash that flat sheet down to a tangle at the foot of the bed anyway, and it’s just one more step of the bed-making process to add to the frustration. For bunks in a hallway or open area, tuck all bedding in—at least on the side that shows in the room—for an uncluttered look. Also keep a small footstool by the bunk beds to help you maneuver around making that top bunk. Keep it simple—lake living is supposed to be easy!
And with so many stylish options for beds and bedding, your bunkroom need not look like a sleepaway camp or youth hostel. When dressing the beds in a bunkroom, keep bedding consistent and neutral. Consider all white or maybe fresh chambray sheeting for all the beds, covered with quilts in solids or simple patterns. Personalize each with a colorful throw at the foot of the bed, or monogrammed shams for your regular guests.
Play By Day, Sleep by Night
Would you believe that Murphy beds are making a comeback? No longer a prop for slapstick comedy sketches, the Murphy bed is a great option when space is at a premium or when you want one room to do double duty. The Murphy bed can fold up into a shelving unit, a desk or even a sofa—many of which don’t even have to be dismantled or undone to use the bed, thanks to clever technology that allows installation on a rotating axle. Murphy beds can unfold perpendicularly into the room, or even parallel to the wall. Installation by a professional is key, but the result creates a truly multifunctional space and a comfortable bed.
A daybed is a great piece of furniture for sleeping extra guests, because aesthetically, it reads like seating during the day, making its home in almost any room, while providing ample room to stretch out by night. Generous throw pillows and structured sides continue the theme of a stylish couch, and a tailored bedskirt even allows you tuck a trundle beneath it. These work well in the family room, on a screened porch, even in a reading nook—but here’s the place where the standing screen might come in handy to allow privacy by night.
Particularly at the lake, guests may enjoy sleeping nearer to the stars. A screened porch is the perfect spot to include more beds for sleeping through summer nights. An old-fashioned sleeping porch, usually on the second floor, recalls those simpler times when air conditioning wasn’t even an option. If you really want to amp up the fun, outfit your porch with a hanging swing bed. Installing the swing bed is the kind of job best left to the professionals, but before you hire it out, keep in mind a few practical considerations. You’ll need at least a four-foot arc to allow the bed ample room to swing; and you should use either stainless or galvanized steel, or marine-grade braided nylon or polyester, to suspend it, to best withstand the elements. You should also encase your mattress in plastic to prevent issues with mildew. Experts say that the best wood to use for this kind of project is cedar or cypress for their hearty ability to withstand the elements; if you use pine or poplar, two other popular choices, make sure it’s treated properly—stained, painted, sealed—to prevent moisture issues.
And what if you are really at maximum capacity and the idea of an air mattress in the kitchen just doesn’t cut it? Don’t forget you may have a whole other place that’s a viable option: your boat! If you have a boat with sleeping berths, send your most adventuresome, flexible guests—those that aren’t susceptible to seasickness—for a night on the water. The same bedding rules apply: great sheets, warm blankets and soft pillows. Send guests down with a package of necessities—a flashlight or headlamp, water bottles, extra blankets, and maybe a cell phone so guests can text you to ask when breakfast will be ready.
Perhaps the most important thing to do when preparing to host an overnight crowd? Tire them out! Provide a day of fresh air and festivities, and your guests will be so worn out they will likely sleep just fine.