Disaster Preparedness: Making room for guests in small spaces

Aka, “This is the way the world ends – with your brother-in-law sleeping on your couch – but my couch is a two-seater and gives you a horrible crick in the neck.”

I’ve been working on making my house more versatile – redesigning it by functions it needs to accomodate, which usually do not match up with rooms it already contains. It’s important to me that I can:

  • store basic food ingredients and the means to process them;
  • store art/craft / project  materials and enough room to use them effectively without having to clear new space every time, because that means I won’t use them;
  • and have enough clear, open and welcoming space for friends and family to stay with me if they need it.

After all, I got laid off in 2010; a few family members a few months later; and now, even in North Dakota land of the new Oil Boom, unemployment is creeping back up again.  It’s not unthinkable that someone I know will need help. If it’s me, I have my legume stash in the basement; if it’s my family or friends – I have my legume stash in the basement!

What makes preparedness feasible, is when you realize it’s not just a time-and-money sink for a long emergency that may never happen. The same preps will help immensely for a medium-term emergency – like a blizzard snowing you in for a week and breaking the Just-In-Time grocery store supply lines. (Well, not THIS creepy crazy year… usually in January we have one week of -60 F windchill. This January, we had a day of +60 F actual temperature.) And of course, the same preps will help immensely for a short-term “emergency” – like a crowd of friends over for movies who drink a bit too much wine and decide to sleep over, who will need blankets and breakfast. 🙂

Sharon Astyk also makes the point that you don’t have to have tons of extra money lying around to stock up on these contingency supplies – if you don’t treat these things as backup, but as essential parts of your daily routine, then you’re not buying two of everything – you’re only buying one multifunctional one. The stuff that integrates neatly into your everyday life is the stuff that you can afford to purchase, and use.

Let me illustrate that point a bit better with a recent problem I’ve been considering – how to make sleeping space for guests, now that the ex-husband has taken the futon.

(You may notice that I read modern design blogs in my spare time.)

Option 1:  A folding mattress with a matching tray table – mattress and end-table in one.

Yes, it’s multifunctional; and yes, I could make it in any color to match my decor; but you can really only have one in the room I have, and it would be annoying to sweep around. Probably not the right choice for me.

Option 2: “Stay in My Home” by Designasyl

At first look, this is pretty awesome! Much less footprint; it’s got a drawer where you could stash a small basket of backup hygiene supplies like a toothbrush, hairbrush, handkerchief, pads, etc; the table and pull-out drawer give the guest someplace private-feeling to store their own things; and the table-top makes it at least somewhat multifunctional.

Major drawbacks for me – again, I could only have one or two in my space, it’s pretty clear what it’s supposed to be, and having the mattress rolled up on the floor in my house guarantees it will be coated with dog and rabbit hair in about 2 minutes.

Option 3:  A six-person daybed! Awesome!!!

Apologies that I have no attribution for this – the styling looks like it came off Dezeen.com, but I cannot find it again.

The clear winner!!  It has multiple uses, and does REALLY WELL at all of them.

This daybed takes up the footprint of a normal couch; can break out into as many as six mattresses if needed; the pillows store on the top making the backrest of the couch version; and the sheets can be folded and stored in between the layers, requiring no additional closet space dedicated to them. I have the sewing skills to make the mattress pads myself (mmm six coordinated black-and-white upholstery prints from my stash), and while I don’t grow bamboo, this would make a lovely project to get a carpenter friend to give me a primer. (I am unutterably sad at missing out on a shop class, through all my years of schooling.) I am thinking having a frame on both narrow ends, and having two diagonal choke ties from “armrest” to base to keep the mattresses in place?

I’ve got room in the basement for this now. I am considering keeping the basement empty, for possible roommate longterm, staging area for decluttering/destashing short term, and basically just to prove to myself that I can get by in ~800 square feet of upstairs + utility rooms. If I keep going with that, then when my current loveseat dies, I already have the replacement selected.


2 thoughts on “Disaster Preparedness: Making room for guests in small spaces

  1. Susan says:

    Great ideas here! In addition to disaster preparedness, I can help my college son to create more room in his apartment for his friends.

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