Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

10.06.2008

The Part-Time Guest Room

Most of us would love to have a guest room like this inviting one designed by Peter Dunham. But space limitations -- and budget -- often make it impossible. (Yes, the sofa fabric is the oft-posted "Fig Leaf.")

Even in the 1960s, Vogue knew that in many American homes, children's bedrooms and dens did double duty as part-time guest rooms.

Here's the advice from Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1969:

"Provisions should be made for as much space and comfort as possible for guests. If the guest bedroom is usually a child's bedroom, some of the surfaces -- certainly the tops of the night table and chest -- should be divested of trappings such as toys, stuffed birds, and baseball mitts. These are precious things, but not all together amusing when a guest is looking for some place to put his own odds and ends."

Specific things to do:

Empty a drawer or two.

Clear space in the closet.

Don't forget to provide ashtrays, cigarettes and books.

Have darkening shades or curtains.

Whatever the child may need during the course of the weekend should be removed so she won't have to rummage around at odd times.

If the child's blankets are drab, it is considerate to provide prettier ones or add an attractive blanket cover.

"The study or library equipped with a convertible bed is even more of a problem. Sometimes end tables or coffee tables must be moved, and lamps shifted. But the biggest problem is usually drawer or hanging space."

If there is no closet, consider keeping a good-looking storage chest in the room and/or a portable clothes rack.

A considerate hostess should help her guest make up the bed; a thoughtful guest will try to keep personal belongings out of sight during the day.

Photo credits: Images one and two, Peter Dunham designs as seen in Elle Decor, November, 2008; Third is Betsy Burnham, as seen in In Style Home, 2005.

25 comments:

robyn said...

I've read and have enjoyed all of your posts lately. Beautiful images too : )

Style Court said...

Oh good. Thanks so much Robyn!

MIMILEE said...

What a delightful post! I just loved the "tips" for the guest room from the sixties! So funny! Especially the part about the cigarettes! My, how times have changed!

Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Amusing - the part about cigarettes, ashtrays etc in converting the child's to guest's room. Just think of the indignation to follow should a shelter publication suggest that these days.

Style Court said...

Mimi, Anon --

That's the most amusing part of the book. Smoking pervades every chapter! It's the main area that has completely changed with time. The rest is pretty enduring. Well, almost.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ivy Lane said...

Another great post! again...in time for holiday guests! We are all going to get really good at creating wonderful enviroments thanks to your wonderful series!! Can you tell?? I'm just a tad overwhelmed at the thought of the holidays fast approaching!!! HA HA!

Style Court said...

Thanks Ivy! Try to live by the mantra keep calm and carry on :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful images! Do you know the source for the metal canopy in the Peter Dunham room?

Thanks! I always look forward to your posts.

Style Court said...

Thanks Anon! The magazine credits Dunham as designing the bed too. Yes, that's the bed frame. It's so chic isn't it?

In the past I think a similar one has been made by Ralph Lauren, if that helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I have been looking for a similar bed. Ralph Lauren's version is $40,000 so I was looking for another option! If you ever find one please include it in a post!

Style Court said...

I wanted to mention the West Elm version but they no longer seem to have it online. Definitely must search for a more affordable option!

Anonymous said...

That would be great, thanks!

Anonymous said...
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Designing Spaces said...

I loved your post! It reminded me so much of my mother and how she would gently remind me to clean my son's room before my mother-in-law would come for a visit. The only thing missing was the mention of a luggage rack for her suitcase and a new bar of soap and fresh towels in the bathroom. Oh,the things we do to prepare for a visitor!

Style Court said...

Designing Spaces --
The funny thing is that soap, towels and much more are covered in the guest bath section, and the luggage rack was part of the proper guest room part :)

Thanks for sharing.

Diane Bergeron said...

Love your blog! Thanks for the on going fabulous inspiration.

Style Court said...

Thanks Diane!

Anonymous said...

Two comments about the Peter Dunham room:

1) the room is certainly lovely, but the lamps are much too far from the bed. Maybe they were just put there for the picture?

2) Ikea has a bed just like this in wood and could easily be painted.

thebubbreport said...

Oh how I long for the days when a host left me some Pall Malls, a zippo, and a fabulous ashtray! :)That reminds me of Mad Men. They are always smoking - in bed, on the plane, in the office, in the hospital, etc.! They even told a coworker having a baby this week "let's hope he grows up to be a Lucky Strikes man!"

Style Court said...

I think of Mad Men often when I read the old Vogue book :)

beachbungalow8 said...

um,i see nothing about 'couch surfing' which is where my guests have to stay these days.

Style Court said...

Megan, I think that falls in the den or convertible sofa category :)

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Excellent advice. And especially timely as Mrs. E. and I are currently in the same pickle. Child's bedroom or guestroom... ? We each have our ideas. This may help bridge the divide.

Style Court said...

Oh good Chris - hope this does help!

beachbungalow8 said...

I only wish I had a fold out to accommodate my guests!

I also notice nothing about hot dog breathe to wake the guest each morning.