6 Clever Places to Hide a Guest Bed

Find some unusual ways for housing overnight guests.

By: Karin Beuerlein

Accommodating groups of overnight guests during the holidays can be a real challenge. Most homes don't have suites of spare bedrooms, so rooms must pull double duty as functional offices or living areas by day and charming guest pads by night.

Fortunately, some great products are available to help you pull this off. And a growing interest in convertible rooms means designers and architects are coming up with ever-more ingenious arrangements that you can duplicate in your own space.

So where are you going to put your guest bed?

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©Zoom Room

Zoom Room

Put aside your notions about hideaway beds — older versions may have been lumpy or awkward, but contemporary models are sleek, mechanized and comfortable, and they can come tucked inside sumptuous cabinetry that you'd never suspect of hiding a bed.

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©Zoom Room

Zoom Room

Take Zoom-Room: a retractable (rather than folding) bed that slides easily into a room via remote control. It's housed in a versatile cabinet with modular side shelving that can be used as an entertainment center, a clothes closet or a bookshelf. Prices start at $4,450.

Zoom-Room also offers detailed shop drawings — plus a plan review by a staff designer — if you're handy enough to build your own custom cabinet and have a fully equipped wood shop.

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©Flying Beds

Flying Beds

Flying Beds in Denver designs custom systems for hideaway beds; president Ron McKey's motto is "Give me any mattress, and I'll make it disappear!" Flying Beds designed this fold-down unit to function as a mirrored wall in a workout studio. The bed occupies the middle two mirrored panels; each outside panel folds down to reveal two drawers and a closet-type cabinet with a hanging rod.

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©Flying Beds

Flying Beds

Ron says the most important consideration when deciding whether and how to install a hideaway bed is how the room looks when the bed is closed — after all, that's the room's primary function, and if it doesn't work for you, you won't be happy with the result. "Decide if function change is the main concept desired, or if you want total deception," he says. Then, design your surround to accomplish that goal.

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©Fernau Hartman

Fernau Hartman

Does your house have an odd space under the stairs or in a dormer that you haven't found a creative use for? Building a simple bed platform in that niche allows you to slide a futon or air mattress in when guests are coming, says Amanda Lam, author of Convertible Houses, a book that showcases innovative ideas for tucking extra function into livable space.

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©Fernau Hartman

Fernau Hartman

Both of these spaces designed by architects Fernau & Hartman are roomy enough to make guests feel comfortable in out-of-the-way spots. Plus, Amanda says, niches that don't contain windows could be hidden with doors when not in use.

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Flying Beds also offers the Dotto SmartBed from Italy, a functional desk 24 inches deep that houses a side-folding bed and fits into a compact space, such as a small office or even a laundry area. When the bed is lowered, the work surface simply glides underneath and remains horizontal, so you don't even have to clear your desk before guests arrive.

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Because the bed faces sideways, the fully extended double bed takes up less than 5 feet of room depth, the queen version, 5'4". The kit, including mattress, runs north of $5,000.

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©Inscape Studio

Inscape Studio

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©Inscape Studio

Inscape Studio

If you have no choice but to put your guests in a high-traffic area, such as your dining room or living room, you'll need some kind of moveable partition for privacy. Amanda loves this solution from architecture firm Inscape Studio: Recessed tracking and wheeled shelving units create a useful and chic moveable wall that can hide a bed and double as nightstand storage when guests arrive. "This is a great alternative to plain sliding doors or a collapsing wall," Amanda says.

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©Pacific Yurts

Pacific Yurts

Got more space outside than inside? Do all of the previous solutions seem a little, well, small to you? If you're looking for a fun, adventurous building project that you can reuse as a studio or garden retreat after your guests go home, consider investing in a yurt.

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©Pacific Yurts

Pacific Yurts

Modern yurts, modeled and named after the homes of Asian nomads, are like a cross between a tent and a cabin. Sold pre-fabricated by companies such as Pacific Yurts, yurts are canvas-covered, typically feature a skylight at the peak, can be plumbed and wired for electricity, and are tough enough to withstand rain and snow — some interiors, as in the photo shown, are positively luxurious. Someone with basic carpentry skills can put one together in as little as a few hours, or during the course of a weekend.

Basic kits range from about $2,500 to $15,000 and up, with extras like porches or wood stoves adding to the cost.

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