When Jennifer Newman created the guest room in her new home, she imagined her beloved sister-in-law, Lisa, resting there after a long day playing super-aunt to Newman's sons, ages 5 and 6.
"I put in a luxurious tufted chair and ottoman," said Newman of Guilford, Conn. "It's very soft, like Cashmina, in a soft blue."
She included reading materials, a TV and photos of Lisa and the kids. The room also features an adjoining private bath with blue toile wallpaper that matches the bedroom's decor.
Although Newman and her husband, Doug, designed their guest suite with someone specific in mind, the room's focus on comfort, privacy and convenience can be applied to any space accommodating overnight guests, said their designer, Jennifer Walker of Walker Interiors in Guilford.
The spaces she decorates often are separate rooms, but many of the touches can be employed for guests who might be bunking on a living room sleep-sofa.
The first step is fairly simple, said Peggy Post, author of "Emily Post's Etiquette" (HarperCollins, 2004).
"Make sure there's a comfortable place to sleep," she said.
If the springs or folding mechanism make the sofa bed feel more like a torture rack, add a foam top. Always supply clean sheets and pillowcases, extra pillows and blankets of various weights.
Post suggests that the host spend a night in the room before guests arrive to determine how to maximize comfort.
The guest room should have an alarm clock, a good reading light and space in a closet or dresser where the guest can store clothing. Tissues, a wastebasket, a water bottle or glass and perhaps even some hotel-size toiletries are also important.
Post said good hosts should explain their daily routine, then offer guests the option of sleeping later than everyone else, going to bed earlier or otherwise making themselves more comfortable.
"You should give them freedom," she said. "You don't have to be there on top of them all the time."