Arthur Rutenberg Homes Blog


How To Create The Perfect Long-Term Guest Suite in Your Home

Posted on March 26th, 2015

What do you think of when you hear the words “guest room” or “guest suite”?  Is it just an un-used bedroom you store things in? Today’s culture is beginning to redefine what is considered immediate family and long term living situations. This is reflected in new home design, often larger houses with several guest bedroom suites or even separate apartments included to accommodate multi-family living. Allowing more than one family in a home can be a great way to save on bills or can allow for each family to live in a nicer home and neighborhood than either could afford individually.

how to make a perfect guest suiteAdult kids living at home after college is a recurring theme in today’s world. Even with an increased job market of late, people are realizing how much easier it is to save money without paying rent or mortgage when not necessary. It’s much easier to build a nest egg by staying at home, in some cases extending into the first few years of marriage.

On the other hand, elderly parents or in-laws are tending to move in with the younger generation. Particularly as they become elderly and although capable of conducting daily activities need the security of having immediate access to help. Again, the expense of an assisted living facility may not make much sense when there are better options available such as an in law suite.

A third possibility is that of long-term guests. This might include allowing clients to stay in the home for more than several weeks at a time while in town for business. It might be that a friend travels for work and stays in town for a couple of months each year.

It simply makes sense as a lifestyle to have more people share a home. It splits the expenses while keeping extended family close together. With a properly designed home, it doesn’t have to mean everybody is in everybody else’s space. With a bit of planning during the design process or when choosing a newly built home, certain features and considerations are more conducive to having extended stay guests or a permanent living situation with extended family.

Privacy in a Guest Suite

When having more than one couple and their children sharing a home, privacy is the first concern. With extended family it may or may not matter as much as with friends who stay for extended periods, but the first consideration is just how separate spaces need to be. Can the second family use the guest rooms for sleeping, or do they need an entirely separate space? They’ll almost certainly need their own den, whether a basement or additional room, perhaps over the garage, converted to serve that purpose. It’s important to consider home designs that provide separate hallways or entire areas for the second family. Especially if the primary and secondary families keep different hours the situation could benefit from an entrance directly into the second family’s space. Consideration of how sound of either conversation or television may travel is important as well.

Bathroom Ideas For A Guest Suite

Sharing a bathroom can be difficult for a single family. Additional full baths are a must in a shared home. Multiple powder rooms are also nice to assure a bathroom is always available even when the shower is in use. Related to shower usage is another point that is easily overlooked until the time comes that the issue is realized. A typical water heater is not designed for two families to use. Very few things are as miserable as a cold shower, especially for whoever is timed to have it daily. An additional water heater may be in order, or perhaps the new style of tankless instant water heater could be beneficial in the multi-family living situation.

Kitchen Concepts for Guest Suites

The crowded kitchen at a Thanksgiving gathering may be cute and a source of holiday fun. On a daily basis it isn’t quite as entertaining. Although the specific circumstance may define the extent of the need, extended stay guests or a second live in family are certainly going to want a kitchenette of some sort. It may be as simple as a mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker in the corner of the secondary den if the families are typically going to share meals. For separate meals, the second family will need a full kitchenette with at least a small stovetop and oven, and a short counter with kitchen sink. The more space available to be used for cooking provides the guests with less need to use the main kitchen when the primary family is having a meal.

Security For Guests In Your Home

For a home that houses more than one family, security is an issue that needs to be addressed. It may not be as important as it is with individual apartments and might even be uncomfortable to discuss with close friends and family. An intercom system could be a practical means of communication without invading each others’ private space unannounced. Especially if elderly parents have moved in with their children there may be a need for easy communication. Separate thermostats allow for individual comfort. Easily cleanable floors and other surfaces assure guests maintain the level of cleanliness the primary family expects, and shared areas use standard cleaning techniques so everyone can clean up after themselves.

Storage Ideas For Guest Suites

Storage space can be a problem for a single family, so special care must be given when designing a home for extended family. Especially if older parents are moving in, as they’re likely to have a lifetime of collectables and memories that isn’t displayed openly but they don’t want to get rid of. The garage and attic probably won’t provide enough storage. An unfinished basement room or even a free standing outdoor utility building may serve the purpose for some items, or in some cases an additional bedroom may serve as a designated storage area. The idea is to make sure everyone is comfortable, so even though some choices may have to be made concerning what to keep and how much, there has to be room to store precious items and memories.


All told, the multi-family or extended family dwelling is a very doable prospect. It has not only financial advantages, but generally can benefit each family by dividing chores according to who has time to complete them each week. In the case of parents or in-laws moving in, they get to spend time with the grandchildren. It’s a great way to stay current with adult kids or stay in touch with old friends. It simply takes a bit of planning in the home design and how the house is built.

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