In an increasing number of newly built upscale homes, full bedroom suites are replacing converted dens and musty basements as the standard accommodations for out-of-town friends, bounce-back children, and visiting in-laws. In the interest of providing short- and long-term guests with a greater measure of privacy and comfort, new-home clients are requesting guest suites when the floor plan and their budget allows.

A guest suite, akin to the master suite in size and features, often includes a separate bathroom, private access to the outdoors, and a place on the floor plan that is separate from other bedrooms but also close to gathering spaces, such as the kitchen or great room. To achieve privacy, these secondary suites feature a vestibule or short hallway to the door, intimate courtyards or balconies, and plenty of closet space.

To provide an even greater level of comfort, as well as help in controlling household energy use and costs, a modern guest suite might employ separate heating and cooling systems, or perhaps a separate zone of the main system, that is controlled by the suite’s occupants during their visit without affecting the rest of the house. When the suite is unoccupied, the homeowners can essentially “shut down” the room to conserve energy.

In addition to providing private access to an outdoor space, today’s expanded guest suites may even offer separate entries. This allows guests (most likely an adult child, in-laws, or a live-in caretaker) to come and go as they please, or welcome their own guests, without disrupting the activity of the main home’s living areas and occupants. Though still a relatively rare feature, private access to a guest suite is usually along one side or in the back of the house, hidden from view from the curb.

Those fortunate enough to spend a night of two (or more) in one of today’s guest suites find finishes and features — and perhaps even square footage — that rival the master suite. A far cry from the typical unfinished bonus room with a sleeper sofa, these rooms offer luxurious window and floor finishes, the latest in luxury bathroom features, and perks including morning kitchens, closet storage systems, and separate audio-visual components.

Builders who offer guest suites within their upscale homes assume they will be used by visiting family and friends year-round, and merchandise them as such in their model homes. As society continues to expand the definition of household formations to include multiple generations, and as aging baby boomers welcome their friends from out of town to enjoy the fruits of their labor, the trend toward luxurious and spacious guest suites is sure to catch on and eventually enter the mainstream of residential design.