Episode No. 309

Mother-in-Law Suite Refresh Makeover


After living in Germany for over 20 years, Betti recently moved to San Francisco with her son, German, his wife, Cynthia and their daughter, Cecily to be closer to her family. While Betti is excited to be with her family and watch little Cecily grow, downsizing into a small spare bedroom has been challenging, both in terms of accommodating her belongings and having space for the activities she loves. To establish her new life in the US, the Squad wanted to help Betti transform the bare-bones guest room into a mother-in-law-suite oasis to fit her entire life without becoming cluttered. The squad incorporated Betti’s input to create a beautiful and efficient new room. The addition of lighting and pull-out hangers allowed the PAX wardrobe to fit everything into one space. Not only is the new furniture stylish and welcoming, each piece serves multiple purposes. The attractive HEMNES bookcase creates plenty of storage and display space while allowing everything to be within reach. The bedside desk has drawers on one side and an easily accesible built-in bookcase on the other- allowing the desk to pull double-duty as extra storage and a nightstand. The squad worked with German and Cynthia to surprise Betti by transforming her sparse bedroom into the perfect mother-in-law suite so she can have a comfortable place to call her own.

Behind the Design

A Warm and Welcoming Guestroom Retreat

After living in Germany for over 20 years, Betti recently moved to San Francisco to live with her son and daughter-in-law, German and Cynthia, and her granddaughter, Cecily.  While she was excited to be with her family and watch little Cecily grow, downsizing from her apartment into a small spare bedroom was challenging.  Finding space for all of her belongings and still accommodating the activities she loves presented some unique challenges for this project. The aim here was to transform the spare bedroom into the perfect petit suite equipped with everything Betti needed to feel comfortable and at home.

See how we did it


When laying out a space it is key to consider all of the activities that the room needs to accommodate; this is especially relevant in small spaces.  In this space we recognised 4 critical activities: Dressing (1), Relaxing (2), Sleeping (3), and Working (4).  No matter what space you are working with, identifying these activities early on will not only make furniture layout much easier but will ensure a more efficient space in the end.


If you invest time planning, even the smallest space can accommodate all the luxuries you’d find in a larger one.  Though Betti had a small closet in her room, it wasn’t adequate for all of her clothes and accessories. The addition of a PAX wardrobe not only gave Betti the additional storage she needed, but the pull-outs and trays added a custom feel and a hint of luxury.  

Reading Nook

With Betti making the transition from living alone to living with family it was important for us to carve out some space for relaxation; a dedicated place to get away and relax or just read a good book so she could feel more at home. A simple upholstered TULLSTA chair near the window took full advantage of the natural light and made good use of an area that may have otherwise been wasted.  The lesson; make use of every inch!    


As with any bedroom, priority number one is sleep and simply adding a pillow top to your existing bed isn’t always the best option.  Think about the other activities and furniture pieces you’d like to incorporate into the space and work within those parameters.  In Betti’s room, having a proper desk and a comfortable place to sit and read was just as important as the bed so choosing a twin bed made the most sense.  As a bonus, going with a smaller mattress may actually allow you to afford a higher quality model.  In either case, opt for the best quality within your budget; this isn’t the place you want to skimp.


When you’re tight on space, furniture pieces that serve more than one function are key.  In this instance, having a night stand AND desk wasn’t going to work, so we needed to find a piece that could serve both functions.  The KLIMPEN desk combination was the perfect solution for this task.  The drawer unit gave Betti all the function of a typical night stand while also serving as a base for the desk top: a perfect spot to work and keep in touch with friends abroad.  Shelves overhead provide ample storage space and a spot to showcase personal mementos without taking up valuable space on the desk.  Placing a small organizer near the bed gave Betti a dedicated spot for glasses or other small items she may want handy throughout the evening.   

With some creative planning and a little sweat equity we were able to really transform this small spare bedroom into the retreat Betti deserved in just two days.  It goes to show that having a small space doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfort or functionality.  Ultimately this makeover reminded us of the importance of family and it felt great walking away knowing we left Betti with a space that was personal and equipped with all the comforts of home.  

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