HomeSource - Guests belong in a room less traveled

December 03, 2005|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT

Q: We need a guest room for the holidays, and I'm thinking of pressing our very small back porch into duty. We can put a convertible sofa out there, but it's so small there's just room enough to walk around the bed when it's opened. The only other option is to move the sofa back into the living room and let our guests sleep there. What do you think?

A: That be it so tiny, any place is better for guests than bedding down in the middle of a family holiday scene. Perhaps the bedroom we show here will give you both courage and inspiration. It's part of the charming little Five Gables Inn and Spa ( in the small Chesapeake Bay town of St. Michaels, Md.

Because the innkeepers, Bonnie and John Booth, have cobbled their inn together from three l9th-century homes in the center of St. Michaels, they've ended up with some fairly eccentric spaces. That only adds to the charm, according to the steady stream of guests who flock to Five Gables all year long.


No one seems to mind that the spaces can be small, like this bedroom tucked behind the French doors that separate it from the sitting area. Light colors, cheery prints, and good reading lights are amenities that take up little space, but can make a big difference in comfort.

Besides, your guests can always fold their bed away for the day if they feel the need for more floor space.

Q: My husband is 6 foot 5 and I am 6 foot. We need comfortable furniture that sits higher from the floor than I have been able to locate. Many elderly people we know have stacks of pillows on the seats of their favorite chairs to make it easier for them to get in an out with bad knees and backs. Why don't the furniture makers realize that many people do not want to hoist up from a position close to the floor?

A: Standardization is the evil here. Furniture manufacturers who build for the masses operate on standard sizes, just as ready-made fashion manufacturers do, and never mind if your body doesn't fit into one of their numbers!

You are so right about low seating pieces being hard to lurch in and out of, bad knees or not. It's painful just to watch any visitor struggling against the gravitational pull of a too-low sofa or chair. In fact, because I, too, am tall, I finally had my own living room sofa raised 6 inches (on a simple wood frame hidden beneath a new slipcover skirt).

Sad to say, you'll have a hard time finding higher chairs in most garden-variety furniture stores. But there is hope: you may be able to locate a custom upholsterer in your neck of the woods who will makes chairs and sofas to measure. It's rather like having a dress or suit custom-fitted, and be warned: you may need to go though an interior designer or architect to gain access to a custom workroom.

The process is also pricey, but you'll be glad you sprang for the difference every time you're able to spring to your feet!

Some resources that offer custom construction: Century Furniture (; Gary Bauxbaum Co. (; George Smith (; Williams-Sonoma Home (

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