How to fake a guest room

You, too, can say yes to guests

Chicago TribuneAugust 29, 2009 

Your one-bedroom apartment is about as large as your paycheck, and an old friend has popped into town, expecting you to host. Where are you going to stow him or her?

Never you mind. There's practically nothing you can't fake, including, in this case, an entire guestroom. We've even got tips from Thom Filicia to help.

"Create a hotel room in an ottoman," says Filicia, the New York interior designer starring in the Style Network series "Dress My Nest."

Time to pack. Start with a large -- about 36 inches long and 20 inches deep -- inexpensive rectangular or square ottoman with a storage space inside. (Find these at Ikea, J.C. Penney or Target.)

Inside it, place an inflatable mattress, a set of sheets, a thin cotton blanket and two down pillows. Why down? Filicia says down pillows are very compressible. Add a couple of bottles of water, some fun, light books or other reading materials and a very thin cotton robe.

Add the extras. To foster that hotel room feel, pack a small bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand lotion, soap and a little washcloth. Don't forget a small flashlight or a reading light. You could even put in some humorous T-shirts in your guest's size.

"Turn it into, like, one-stop shopping," Filicia said. "Have fun with it."

Still more space-saving. If you really want to stuff a lot of items in the ottoman, Filicia suggests buying one of those space storage bags, stuffing the sheets and pillows inside, then vacuuming out the air to flatten it.

Filicia, who gained national attention as the design guru on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," says the room-in-the-ottoman will not only be a very gracious and very welcoming signal to your guest but also will free up space in a cramped apartment.

Say nighty night. At bedtime, whip open your ottoman. Make up the bed and fluff the pillows. Pull up the empty ottoman, topped with a tray, as a nightstand. Deck that out with water, reading materials and reading light. All that's left is to bid your guest a restful night, safe in the knowledge that you're an impressive host. Or a darn good faker.

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