‘Tis the Season for House Guests


The holidays are nearly here, and for many homeowners that means the pleasure of welcoming family and friends for extended visits. When hosting, we want to provide our guests with an environment that feels both welcoming and serene. And, during the hectic holiday season, it is especially important for guests – and hosts – to have private areas to relax and retreat between planned celebrations.

This carriage house includes guest quarters on the second floor.

When designing homes for our clients (particularly those who regularly entertain), we are frequently asked to create separate guest quarters for visitors within the property. This affords both the homeowner and their guests with a desirable level of privacy throughout the visit, ensuring that all parties feel together – but comfortably independent throughout the stay.

This structure looks like a detached one-story guest house when, in fact, this is the second floor. The first floor, accessed on the other side, functions as a carriage house.

Many of the homes we design include a carriage house, which today connotes a romantic image that belies its modest beginnings. In fact, the carriage house was originally the outbuilding that stored horse-drawn carriages and saddles down below, with second-floor living space to house hired groomsmen or property help above. Sometimes, the carriage house also served as shelter for the homeowner’s animals.

This free-standing carriage house features guest quarters on the second floor, ensuring privacy for everyone.
However, the carriage house remains convenient and accessible to the main house.

Carriage houses today typically house our current mode of transportation: automobiles. The second-floor area offers a wonderful opportunity for guest space that is entirely separate from the main household. With its own entrance, bath, and laundry facilities, a carriage house offers guests an environment that feels cozy and private and accommodates the needs of twenty-first-century living.

Upstairs, guests can enjoy their own private space. A small wet bar provides the necessities so guests don’t have to go to the house for a glass of water for example.

While separate guesthouses are certainly desirable, guest quarters attached to the main house can also feel wonderfully independent. Often, we attach these spaces or wings to the primary building through a one-story connector, like a mudroom, and include a separate outdoor entrance. This enables family and friends to feel close to the home’s epicenter while still providing the desired level of privacy for all.

A one-story connector gracefully joins this guesthouse wing to the main house.
Here, the guest quarters offer a kitchenette…
…and a separate gathering area, providing visitors independence from the main household.

When hosting family and friends, we want them to feel as comfortable as possible throughout their stay. Offering guests a private, welcoming space – either separate or attached to the main house – ensures they have a cozy place to call “home” for the holidays.