Downsizing – space for guests

Making room for more – the downsizer’s guide to guests!

Congrats, you’ve made the big decision to downsize your home! By now you’re probably looking for the right kind of home to settle in – dog-earing pictures in real estate magazines and browsing real estate online to find the perfect pad. You’re checking out layouts and considering square footages, measuring your furniture and itching to bin a lifetime’s worth of stuff. But have you considered how your new home is going to accommodate the family and friends who want to stop by – be it for a little or a long while?

Laying out the welcome mat

The big question is, what type of guests do you want to have? It’s important to keep this in mind when you pick the place you’re going to call home. A guest room or two is an open invitation to family young and old; so if that’s what you’re aiming for then prepare for the onslaught with bunk beds and linen, spare toothbrushes and towels. Establish a ‘lost property’ box early and expect it to be filled after every visit from the troops. By contrast, one guest room modestly appointed (and no spare mattresses) is a clear indication that guests are welcome but numbers are strictly limited!

Establishing boundaries

One downsizer we know of had mixed feelings about having people come to stay after one guest installed themselves in the guest room for 2 weeks longer than expected. ‘I think I was too accommodating,’ she confesses. I had guest soaps and plush towels, a room with a view and free food - it was the ultimate B&B!’

For hosts who like to enjoy their guests one at a time, (and never for more than 24 hours) a dedicated ‘guest room’ is perhaps too inviting an idea. Consider a ‘spare room’ that doubles as a something else (like a study or storage hold!) and even the most tenacious guest is going to understand the accommodation is temporary!


While it might sound overly officious, having a ‘guest policy’ established in advance of the descending hoards is a good idea. You don’t necessarily have to make the policy public, but it can be your guiding principle when being inundated with requests for sleepovers and house sharing. A former senior administrator disseminated a guest policy ahead of downsizing to keep the ‘fairness feuds’ between his four kids in check. ‘My wife and I love to have the grandkids over for sleepovers to give our adult kids a break. But we knew from past experience that some of our kids felt they were not getting the same amount of babysitting as the others. We knew a policy was the only way to nip it all in the bud. Now we give each family an equal number of sleep overs a year, and we have a two night maximum stay!’

So whether you want your downsizer to be a home away from home for family and friends or more of a short-term pit stop for a select few, make sure you put some thought into your ‘guest policy’!