Home Trends: 3 Creative Ways to Make Room for Houseguests in Northern Michigan

Summer is here! Which begs the question… where to put the houseguests?

SOFA BEDS

Who: Mike Mahn, owner of Golden-Fowler Home Furnishings and Lakeside Marketing
Mike, a Traverse City native, has owned Golden-Fowler Home Furnishings since 2008 but has worked there since 1992. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in the contemporary furniture business in Ann Arbor. With so much experience, we thought he’d be just the one to ask about what’s new with the age-old place to put guests: the pullout sofa.

Sofa bed, pullout bed, sleep sofa. What’s the right term for these?
All of those, plus hide-a-bed—that’s an old brand that’s become like Kleenex to tissue. When customers come in and ask for any of those, we go with the flow.

Seems like these beds have a bad rap. That’s because…
Sofa beds have a notoriously bad reputation. They are heavy and hard to move and uncomfortable. There’s a bar that holds up the mattress when it is pulled out. When they’re uncomfortable, that’s the bar you feel.

You sure aren’t selling me on them!
[Laughs] No, I guess I’m not. But the way to make them comfortable is to upgrade the mattresses. That’s why we make our own mattresses right here in Michigan under the brand name Lakeside. I specify all the materials. We have one style called the Marvelous Middle that is just thin enough to go into a pull-out frame.

So, you have the magic sofa bed cure! Does that mean you sell a lot of them?
Oh yes. We recognize people up here need places for guests. What we call our Sleeper Season begins in March and runs through the Fourth of July. We have probably 20 different sleeper sofas in stock and provide delivery.

MURPHY BEDS

Who: Jill Hutchinson, Design Consultant, Closets Plus
Trained by California Closets in home-organizing solutions, Jill has worked for Closets Plus in Traverse City for six years. Murphy beds, sometimes called wall beds, are one of the many ways Jill helps her clients make efficient use of their space—including turning an office, den or even living room into a guest room.

Murphy beds, wall beds—they sound a bit complicated. How does the design-install process work?
I do an in-home visit to determine what design, what size and what orientation you need, then design it using CAD. We send the CAD specs to our factory in Holland, Michigan, and they have the bed to us in a week. We do the complete install—which can be a bit technical in terms of setting the tension of the springs according to the weight structure of the mattress. You don’t want the mattress to spring back up when you pull the bed down.

So their size can be customized. But what do you mean by orientation?
They can pull down from the head or from the side so that you are laying perpendicular to the wall.

And you can bling them out, right?
Yes, you can pick your style cabinetry—color or stain. You can even get them outfitted with pullout desks attached or shelves on the side of the cabinet.

Let’s talk mattresses—are these beds comfortable?
Yes, they are comfortable. I have one and I actually slept on it for a couple of years and it was great. We can supply the mattress or you can get your own. The only mattress that doesn’t work is a pillow top.

So, where do you store the bedding?
You can fold it right up in the bed. I keep my bed made with sheets, quilt and pillow.

How popular are Murphy beds?
In the last five years we’ve really seen a resurgence of them. A lot of that has to do with people downsizing. If they want to have a bedroom double as an office, for example, they don’t want a bed taking up all the space. So the room serves your function, and when someone comes to visit they have a very comfortable bed.

Starting price?
About $3,000.

TRUCK TENTS

Who: Stuart Christie, Brand Specialist, Napier Outdoors
We couldn’t help falling in love with these cool tents made to snuggle right around your truck, SUV or minivan. Sure, they are made for sleeping out in the Northwoods, but what about as extra sleeping space for the grandkids when they visit? A step up from the old backyard tent, they keep kids (or adults!) off the wet, allergy-fueling ground. We checked in with Napier’s Stuart Christie to get the deets.

These are made to fit on trucks, SUVs and minivans. How difficult is it to fit a tent to a specific vehicle?
The SUV, minivan model is one envelope. It has an elastic surround that makes it universal to any vehicle with a hatch. As for trucks, we have the specs to fit every model.

Do I need an engineering degree to set it up?
Definitely not. The first time you set it up it might take you around 20 minutes. After that, you can get it up and down in 10 minutes.

How portable and easy to store are they?
They come rolled up in a bag. The SUV model weighs between 20 and 25 pounds. The truck version weighs 15 pounds.

Roominess?
The truck tent has 5.5 feet of head room. The SUV model is actually an outside tent that can be 7.5 feet or higher.

I’m having enough guests this summer to justify a new wing on my house. But, no can do. What is one of these going to set me back?
$289 for the truck tent; $329 for the SUV tent.