Thursday, 12 December 2013

Make room at your inn

Previously published in the Retford Times - 5th December 2013

As we all get ready to welcome guests over the festive period, interior designer Jamie Hempsall gives advice on providing temporary “room at the inn”

We are shortly approaching the period when our homes will be stretched to capacity as friends and family are welcomed across the threshold with many staying over as festive cheer kicks in.

The key to a successful visit is ensuring guests enjoy a good night’s sleep without encountering uncomfortable floors or lumpy sofas.  This can pay dividends for the host as you stand a greater chance of guests waking up bright and early to help with all the clearing up (or at least the prospect of tea and toast being made for you as you finish).

I think one of the most useful temporary bed options is the inflatable mattress (with an integrated electric pump – ensuring that you can put them up quickly and without risk of a hernia).  The airbed has come along way since people used to sleep on summer lilos, many are sophisticated products with features such as “no roll together” zones and strengthened edges.   Some models are now even available the same height as a normal bed, which is particularly helpful for elderly or less abled users.

The key advantage of this solution is they usually fold up to the size of a medium size duffle bag for easy storage in a loft or cupboard, but provide sleeping room equivalent to a full-size bed.  There are a number of options available from the likes of Tesco and Bestway.  My personal favourite is the range from Aerobed, although these are on the pricier side (£139.99 for a full height double -

The traditional z-bed seems to be coming back into prominence as homeowners realise how comfortable they are.  Indeed, the more expensive models feature mattresses that would rival a normal bed.  A single bed size can fit easily in a cupboard or under another bed.  Whilst a double bed size can be more difficult to store, if you have easy access to an attic area (or a good space at the end of a bed with a cover hiding the z-bed underneath) then these are a serious option (£229 for a Jaybe double bed with slatted base and headboard from - 0871 230 0867).

Chair beds are especially practical in a child’s or teenager’s bedroom where they are likely to have plenty of use throughout the year as you find yourself welcoming over a few more school friends.  You can also guarantee that they will add an element of adult allure to the room, allowing the occupant the luxury of their own comfy chair on a daily basis.

Up until recently chair beds were definitely the poor relation of the sofa bed.  Most were only available in brightly coloured foam block forms, aimed firmly at the child market.  However, in the last couple of years more innovative products have reacted the market, foam block models are now available in more sophisticated colours (consider the Chocolate Single Chair Bed Sofa from Argos, £39.99).  In addition, you can find stylish examples such as the Leader Lifestyle Rita Faux Leather Chair Bed that would make a good occasional chair in any location (£224; - 0845 6 777008).

The option of sleeping on sofas need not be a bad one, provided you have invested in a good quality sofa bed. The key to choosing the right sofa bed is comfort on a number of levels.   Firstly, consider the depth of the mattress as some are really too thin and you might as well sleep on the floor.

Secondly, check the width of the actual bed area as frames have to fit inside the sofa.  A two-seater sofa is unlikely to result in a full double bed so opt for at least a two and half seater, if budget and space allow.

Above all, test your sofa-bed for suitability the way you would any settee to ensure you avoid buying an option that does not satisfy sleep and seating requirements perfectly.

The sofa bed is now an integral part of many manufacturers’ ranges so you can find styles from the traditional, such as the Stella from (from £995) to the ultra modern House by John Lewis Napa Sofa Bed (£299;  

The only disadvantage for the guest is that sofa beds take up a considerable amount of space.  Therefore, they are likely to be somewhere such as the Sitting Room which is right in the middle of all the action at Christmas.

Whatever sleep solution you decide upon, send your guests off to bed with toastie hot water bottles to ensure you give them cosy festive night to remember for all the right reasons.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, SBID is a multi-award winning interior designer.