Even those short on space can make guests feel welcome and comfortable, says New York interior designer Elaine Griffin.
"I'm a native of the Deep South, so hospitality — and its cousin, sociability — are never far from my mind, especially during the holidays," Griffin says. "The more the merrier! I live in Manhattan, land of the notoriously cramped and tiny apartment, where one can't let a minor detail like the absence of a dedicated guest room derail the pleasure of hosting overnight guests."
First, she says, consider your guest's age. "Asking seniors to sleep on air mattresses, for example, is cruel and unusual punishment. If you don't have a pull-out sofa bed, hotel-style folding cots are inexpensive and are sold in the mattress department."
If you can afford it, consider investing in a chair bed — a smaller version of a sofa bed that can pull double duty in an apartment or home office.
Crate & Barrel's new Karnes chair has classic midcentury lines, including high tapered legs and a tufted back, upholstered in a tight menswear woven fabric. The mattress is covered in stain-, odour- and microbe-resistant Crypton. (www.crate&barrel.com)
The Sharkfin Armchair from J.C. Penney is available in many upholstery choices. (www.jcp.com)
And Ikea's Solsta is a slim-profile, under-$200 sofa bed covered in a smart grey cotton, and is available online. (www.ikea.com)
There's also the hip Color Block futon sofa at Wal-mart that comes in fun flannel colours like pink, chocolate, orange and blue on a black base for under $200. (www.walmart.com)
High-density foam covered in sleek white leather on a steel base make a comfortable and stylish contemporary option from Abbyson Living, at Overstock.com. And Castro Convertibles offers a clever option: an oversize ottoman that converts into a single or twin bed. You can choose from a wide range of slipcovers. (www.castroconvertibles.com)
Hertel Klarhoefer's cleverly designed stacking bed is available at Suiteny.com. Two twin beds stack on top of each other without the need for any hardware; when night comes, just lift the top one off and position it to make a nice big bed for one or more guests. The bed, which can be used as a sofa during the day, is available in a variety of solid wood frames.
For regular 84-inch sofas that don't pull out, provide nice crisp sheets; Griffin makes sure hers are starched and ironed to give a luxe touch.
There's no denying the convenience of an inflatable mattress that can be stored away easily. Aerobed has a new luxury version that stands 22 inches high instead of the standard 9 inches, making it more like a real bed, and easier to get on and off. The raised headboard adds extra comfort, and helps keep pillows in place for late-night lounging and reading. (www.aerobed.com)
Griffin advises making some closet space available to guests, as well as a small table. A nice floor basket can corral essentials. Include a few toiletries and some bottled water. And prepare a binder with instructions on how to work the tech appliances in your home in case you're out or asleep; include Wi-Fi passwords, too.