Recently, I had the opportunity to read an insightful book, “30 Day Stay” by savvy investors Zeona McIntyre and Sarah Weaver. In this book, Zeona shares an intriguing concept that she calls “The Makeshift Separate Unit” (page 109). The idea is about turning your main bedroom on the first floor into a place you can rent out for a short or medium amount of time. I found this concept so captivating that I decided to explore how it could be applied to my own home.  

Now, just for context, I live in a rambler, a lovely relic from the swinging ’60s, a time when homes were filled with charm and compact spaces. The main bedroom is 11’x11′ while the main bathroom has the size of a shoebox.

Even so, I was ready to give it a go. In fact, the smaller the room, the more fun I have figuring out a way to make it look great and be useful at the same time.

This is the floor plan:

Main bedroom floor plan

To help you visualize this money-making idea, I’ve created some 3D renderings of the main bedroom transformation. Let’s dive in and see how you can create a reliable income stream right from the comfort of your own home.

Turning Your First Floor Bedroom Into a Cash-Generating Machine: What You Need

McIntyre lays out four essential elements for turning your main bedroom into a short or medium-term rental unit: a bedroom, a full bath, a kitchenette, and a separate entrance.

You’ll find that a primary bedroom on the main floor often has an exterior access point—whether it’s a sliding door or a back door. This access serves as the independent entrance to your rental unit, adding privacy and convenience for your guests.

Another aspect to consider is the closet, which is frequently present in primary bedrooms. This space can be transformed into a compact yet functional kitchenette, equipped with essentials like a coffee maker, tea kettle, a microwave/toaster oven combo, and (I’d add) possibly a small fridge.

The ensuite becomes the unit’s full bathroom and it provides the sink for the kitchenette.

Larger bedrooms (so, not really my case) also have the added advantage of accommodating extra amenities like a writer’s desk or a cozy sitting area. Add a mounted TV to the mix and you have a fully furnished, comfortable unit ready to generate some extra income.

The Original Layout

To start with, I put together a floor plan and made some 3D renderings to show how my bedroom looks right now.

Original 1- Makeshift separate unit 5

The one thing my bedroom is missing to turn it into a rental unit is its own entrance. That’s why I would need to change the normal window into a sliding door that locks. That way, people who stay could come and go as they please. 

I feel that changing the window into a door would be the only major change I’d need to make. It might be tough and pricey if I decide to switch it back later. But to be honest, I don’t think I would. A sliding door would bring in more sunlight, which is a plus here in the Northwest. In fact, my husband and I considered this a while back when our hot tub was just outside our bedroom. The idea was to dash right from our cozy bedroom to the hot tub, skipping the winter cold (and my screams). In the end, we kept the window and said goodbye to the hot tub (and my complaints about the cold). All for the low cost of nothing. My husband was quite pleased.

The second important change would be turning the closet into a mini-kitchen. In this case, if I ever changed my mind and wanted a normal closet again, it wouldn’t be hard to do. I’d just need to take out the kitchen cabinets and put the closet shelves back in.

You might be thinking, ‘What about the bedroom door? Would you take it off and cover up the wall?’ Actually, the door would stay put, and I’ll show you how.

First option: hiding the door with a wardrobe

In the first option, the bed stays where it is. The dresser is swapped for a desk with two chairs, and there’s a TV on the wall above. The closet is turned into a tiny kitchen with small appliances and some cupboards. Imagine a fridge tucked into one of the lower cupboards. But the biggest thing is, the bedroom door gets covered up by an L-shaped wardrobe to hide any sort of connection with the rest of the house. So, there are two big structural changes here: adding the sliding door and changing the closet into a mini-kitchen. Now, if you want to add a third change that’s practical but a little bit different, you could think about changing the ceramic sink in the bathroom for a deeper sink made of stainless steel, like you’d see in a kitchen. I know, it’s a bit unusual, but why not?

Earn extra income with your main bedroom
Transformed 1c- Makeshift separate unit 2
Transformed 1c- Makeshift separate unit 4

Second option: hiding the door with a decorative panel

For the second option, I moved the bed to the other wall. I placed a wardrobe with a built-in desk in front of the bed, and a TV above that. The closet (kitchenette) and bathroom stay as they are in option 1, however, in this case, a decorative panel hides the bedroom door. It’s easy to put up and take down, so no structural changes are needed here either.

Transformed 1b- Makeshift separate unit 1
Transformed 1b- Makeshift separate unit 3
Transformed 1b- Makeshift separate unit 2

Third Option: Retaining the Closet, the Door and Adding a Two-Way Lock

The third option is the less destructive one, because it would let us quickly change the main bedroom back to the way it was. With this solution:

  • We haven’t tried to hide the door to make a completely separate space. We’ve just added two locks that would work independently both ways, from the inside and from the outside. This solution would provide total privacy to the guests and the homeowners as well. 
  • We’ve left the closet as it is, choosing to put the small kitchen appliances in a tall piece of furniture. 
  • We have replaced the dresser with a sideboard that has drawers on top and doors on the bottom.
  • We haven’t hung the TV on the wall, but have just set it on top of the sideboard.
From main bedroom to a Airbnb suite
From main bedroom to a Airbnb suite
From main bedroom to a Airbnb suite

As I said earlier, this idea would let us easily turn the main bedroom back to how it was. The only differences would be two-floor lamps that have a little shelf built in instead of two bedside tables with lamps, and nice French doors to go outside (where, possibly, there’s a small patio). Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Estimating the costs and the revenues

So how much would it cost to transform a window into French or sliding doors and a closet into a mini kitchen? Well, for the French doors, costs can vary depending on the size and style, but generally, you’re looking at anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, including installation. As for the mini kitchen, this would depend largely on what appliances you want to install and the kind of cabinets you choose, but a reasonable range could be between $1000 and $2,000. Remember, these are just rough estimates, so you’ll want to get a quote from professionals in your area to get a more accurate idea. 

However, to play it safe and include everything, let’s say that the total cost is $10,000. This figure factors in not just the doors and mini kitchen, but also some new furniture and accessories. 

If you’re wondering how much you could potentially charge for this upgraded bedroom, on Airbnb for example, let’s take a look at the numbers. Based on current listings, a well-furnished and independent space like this could reasonably rent for around $80 – $100 per night. Of course, these rates can fluctuate depending on the season and local demand. 

If you’re charging $100 per night for your transformed space, you may wonder how long it would take to pay off the $10,000 you spent on the renovations. Assuming full occupancy, it would take you 100 nights (about 3 months) of rental to recoup the costs. However, in reality, it’s rare to have your space booked every single night. So, if we take a more conservative estimate, like 60% occupancy rate (which is pretty average for Airbnb rentals), it would take you roughly 5 and a half months, to fully recoup your initial investment. After that, everything is pure profit.

The Bottom Line: Turning Your Bedroom into an Earning Opportunity

Turning your first-floor bedroom into a short- or mid-term rental unit isn’t just a thought-provoking concept, but also a practical and profitable venture. With an initial investment of around $10,000 and a conservative occupancy rate, you could potentially recoup your costs in less than six months. Not to mention the continual income thereafter. Whether you’re looking for an avenue for extra income, an investment opportunity, or simply a fun design project, this idea surely offers a wealth of possibilities.

So, are you ready to transform your first-floor bedroom into a profit-making venture? If this blog post has sparked your interest and you’re keen to learn more, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch directly. We’d love to hear your thoughts, answer any questions, or even see some before-and-after pictures if you decide to embark on this exciting project. Remember, investing in your home not only has the potential to provide extra income but can also increase the overall value of your property. Let’s turn those interior design dreams into reality!

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