From apartment to B&B

The functionality of a B&B apartment

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17 March 2020

If you own a large apartment that for various reasons is not exploited or if you are lucky enough to own several properties, a highly recommended idea is to functionalize these properties in view of the accommodation and specifically the bed. and breakfast. In addition to maximizing the use of space, this hypothesis also provides for an increase in the value and income that derives from the property. However, the decision to allocate a home environment or the entire unit to a b & b presupposes some problems that must be considered from the outset. First of all it is good to keep in mind that these are pre-existing buildings and for this reason they are characterized by very specific structural peculiarities that sometimes prove to be binding for the new project. This is also because at the basis of any type of intervention there are specific obligations and regulations to be respected. The first aspect concerns functionality: it is essential to opt for the best design choices concerning the spatial organization, the intended use of each individual environment and the most appropriate furnishings for this purpose. Also from the point of view of comfort, it is important to choose in order to ensure ease of use and psycho-physical well-being. The finishes, the details, the colors, give personality to the space and for this reason they can differentiate their bed and breakfast from others, making it recognizable among customers. Last but not least, the services offered will determine the level of satisfaction of those staying in the accommodation spaces.


In Italy there is no single regulation for the regulation of the tourism sector but each Region establishes precise rules on the matter. As for bed and breakfasts, there are some essential aspects that define their feasibility in the case of functional change of residential buildings. If the apartment does not comply with the building regulations in force in the Region concerned, in terms of hygiene, health and safety, it will be necessary to find a solution for the appropriate adaptation. The rooms intended for bedrooms must have minimum dimensions in order to be welcoming and functional and cannot exceed the number of 6 rooms within which there can be a maximum of 20 beds. In the case of larger sizes and services, we no longer speak of b & b but of hotels. As for the size of each room, it ranges from 8 square meters of single rooms to 12-14 of double rooms, depending on the territory in which you are located. In all structures of this type there must be at least one toilet for every two rooms, which is intended exclusively for guests and this environment must be equipped with specific equipment. In this regard, in order to ensure a higher level of privacy and comfort, the optimal choice is to equip each single room with a private bathroom.

In some regions there is an obligation to make the guest bathroom independent of the needs of the owners of the apartment, if they live there. In addition, guests must be able to access the rooms through a common environment that is necessarily independent of the rooms and passageways of the home owners. In addition to the rooms, bathrooms and passage areas, it is necessary to provide a room prepared for the preparation and consumption of breakfast. Given this, it is essential that the current hygiene and health standards are always respected and for this reason, it is essential that the daily cleaning of the rooms, common areas and passageways is ensured. All systems must also comply with the standards and meet the requirements for common safety. In addition, each structure must guarantee cold and hot water, heating and adequate lighting of the rooms. From a functional point of view, the building regulation on bed and breakfast establishes that each room is equipped with some important furnishings to meet the needs of users.


In order to be able to refunctionalize domestic rooms in b & b, it is necessary to obtain some indispensable documents. The first is represented by the tourist SCIA, or the Certified Start of Activity Report, to be issued to the competent office of your municipality. Even if you want to restructure the interior, you need to know which interventions require authorization. In fact, while ordinary maintenance works do not require permits, extraordinary maintenance works require specific documentation. If structural changes are not foreseen, the CILA, sworn commencement notice, will be sufficient, if instead more substantial reconstruction and remediation measures are envisaged, it will be necessary to present the SCIA, a certified start of activity report. All the aforementioned documentation requires the advice of a qualified professional. It is important to specify that in order to carry out tourist activity in one’s own home, no permits are needed for the condominium to which it belongs, but the landlord must be resident in the apartment and that he must stop this activity for a minimum of three months a year. At the conclusion of the extraordinary renovation works, it will be necessary to declare the planimetric update to the cadastre. All documents relating to these interventions will then be delivered to the Single Desk for Receptive Activities (SUAR) by those responsible.

The bed and breakfast project

If you wish to use your own home or a second home as a non-hotel accommodation facility, it should be clarified that some interventions aimed at functional optimization will be necessary. In fact, if as often happens, the property is not newly built, adjustments will be necessary with respect to current regulations, in terms of safety and hygiene. Each environment will have to respond to functional needs and must satisfy aesthetic characteristics capable of making the structure attractive compared to the competition. Given this, in most cases we proceed with interventions of new distribution of the environments and the same are designed according to the characteristics and minimum measures laid down by law.

Realization of several bedrooms and bathrooms

In order to optimize the spaces of a common apartment, it is necessary to carry out some works that are indispensable for use in a receptive key, first of all the preparation of multiple bedrooms. Each Italian Region has special regulatory provisions according to which each bedroom must have minimum measures depending on whether it is a double or a single room. Generally, for the first type the 12 sq m were established, while for the second the 8 sq m. As for the bathrooms for the exclusive use of guests, they must be commensurate with the number of bedrooms which cannot exceed 6 units. If you are faced with generous sizes that affect a few and large rooms, the solution consists in remodeling the space available, with the construction of a greater number of units with smaller dimensions. For this type of intervention, which entails a variation in the distribution of the rooms, it is necessary to deposit the SCIA in advance, a certified notification of the start of the activity. Sometimes, if you have plenty of space, the best choice is to prepare an internal bathroom for each bedroom which, even if small, ensures greater privacy for the end user.

Transformation of a living room into a bedroom

Another type of intervention useful for the adaptation of residences for tourist use is characterized by the increase in the number of bedrooms that can be obtained from an environment previously intended for different use. A classic example is the living room that lends itself well to re-functionalization in this sense, since it always has at least one opening and the dimensions are sufficient and sometimes greater than the guest rooms. In fact, once the minimum measurements have been verified, it will be sufficient to insert the necessary furniture and take care of the lighting of the environment. Where previously the sofa was located, the bed can be inserted, accompanied by bedside tables, while the space previously occupied by a table and TV cabinet can house the wardrobe and a desk. Often this intervention does not presuppose the demolition of walls and in the case of double living rooms, equipped with double opening, it will be possible to prepare two bedrooms.

Creation of at least one common environment

Whether the entrance to the house, a corridor, a passageway or an entire room are used, the important thing is to prepare a common area for the customers of the b & b. Used as a dining room for breakfast or a relaxation area while waiting to leave the hotel, it is extremely useful and highly appreciated by the traveler. In fact, this environment can influence the decision of who must stay in the structure and needs to eat breakfast or spend extra time compared to the overnight stay. The dual function is in fact to better functionalize the space for specific purposes but also to encourage socializing among the b & b visitors. If the property originally has a kitchen and a living room divided by a wall, an option could be to knock down the wall as long as it is not load-bearing, so as to create a unique and wider environment. In this way, the open space will become a recreational area and a space for sharing and exchange.

Remake of the kitchen

One of the most important rooms inside the structure used as a bed and breakfast is the common kitchen. In this space, in fact, it is essential to guarantee hygiene and compliance standards according to regulations. Intended for the preparation and consumption of breakfast, this is an area that will be frequented by all patrons and for this reason it will always be necessary to ensure order and cleanliness. For these reasons, it is often chosen to restructure the kitchen environment in order to make it suitable for the needs of more people. From an organizational point of view, if the kitchen block is located in the same environment in which the meal is eaten, the same will be preferred in linear models and will occupy a specific wall. In this way it will be possible to gain useful space for tables and chairs, indispensable to guarantee privacy for every customer. If instead you want to interpret the space in a “social” key, an idea may be to choose a large, round or rectangular table, where eating breakfast will become a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with other guests. This solution is adopted more rarely and is often found in other non-hotel structures, such as hostels and social hotels. From the point of view of the finishes, the material and color choice will vary according to the style of the rooms and the specific needs, however, some principles must always be taken into consideration. Being an environment with high humidity and continuously stressed, the coatings will have to be chosen with criteria: waterproof, washable, easy to maintain and long lasting. Each intervention must be undertaken with a view to maintaining safety, avoiding the presence of dangerous obstacles to the free use of the environments. The restructuring will also include the refurbishment of the water and electricity systems or, if necessary, the adjustment according to the law.

Renovation of the bathroom

Another intervention involving the apartments to be functionalized at b & b, concerns the renovation of the bathroom. Depending on the extent of the work, the necessary documentation will be required or not; for example, to replace sanitary ware or repair sudden leaks, there is no legal obligation since these interventions fall under ordinary maintenance. As already mentioned, for this type of environment, if the size of the apartment allows it, the optimal choice is to provide each single room with an internal private bathroom. However, it is not always possible to opt for this solution and in case of impossibility it is necessary to act according to the provisions of the regional building regulation which establishes at least one toilet every two rooms.

The renovation of the bathroom or the insertion of the same where necessary, must ensure:


If there is no opening, a forced ventilation system must be provided


The legislation classifies this type of environment as an “increased risk area” for the
co-presence of electrical and water systems. In the insertion of light points and water points
particular attention must be paid in order to ensure individual safety.

The choice of materials and finishes must be made consciously, in order to ensure comfort and usability: stress-resistant, non-slip surfaces are preferred (due to the presence of hygiene products such as soaps and detergents), simple to clean and keep.

Construction of a mezzanine

Sometimes, in the case of apartments with small rooms but with very high ceilings, such as in buildings of ancient construction, it is possible to exploit the space vertically by inserting a mezzanine. This type of intervention requires the Building Permit and the SCIA, since it involves a volumetric variation and an increase in the internal surface to be exploited. The legislation establishes some minimum measures to be respected in order to ensure user comfort and safety: minimum height equal to 2.10 m, maximum surface equal to 1/3 of the square footage of the room below. The mezzanine can be used to accommodate a double bed or a walk-in closet in order to maximize the functionality of the entire space available.

Adjustment of systems according to regulations

If the property has not been recently renovated, it is necessary to adapt the systems in order to bring them into compliance with current legislation at the time of functionalization at the b & b. The twofold possibility is that of the complete system remaking or of its compliance. If the two choices entail different restructuring costs and times, in the first case a new plant will be obtained in line with all the current regulations, in the second case instead the minimum safety parameters will be respected but there will be the risk of having to intervene again in future.

All the interventions described above are aimed at optimizing spaces, functional maximization and compliance with personal safety and comfort.
One of the rules to keep in mind during the design process is to exploit all those construction details, those characteristics of the property that if exploited can make an important contribution to the success of the final result. For example, the presence of large openings if enhanced can make the rooms healthier and brighter, or that of a generously sized balcony in the warmer seasons will allow it to be used for breakfast. And again, in the case of historic buildings, the presence of compositional details and the related enhancement will allow to give added value to the bed and breakfast spaces, attracting the attention of the most attentive patrons.

From apartment to B&B: details
Spatial functionalization: bedroom with private bathroom and bedroom with mezzanine

The choice of furniture

As with any other component, the bed and breakfast furnishing involves choices that must be measured on spatial availability, structural conformation and functional and aesthetic needs. The appearance is certainly a very important element that needs to be taken care of in order to attract the attention of potential customers who most often choose the structure online, comparing it directly with their competitors. The bed and breakfast differs from other types of accommodation for its limited size and for the familiar and welcoming atmosphere, emulating the classic domestic environment. An optimal choice is to recreate original environments, in which a common thread between rooms and common spaces can be traced, where particular attention is paid to detail. Furthermore, it may be useful to take care of an aspect that differentiates and gives personality to the spaces: a reading corner in the relaxation room, a small children’s area or a green corner with plant species and medicinal herbs. If you enjoy a generous terrace or a garden, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of these open spaces in order to give uniqueness to the entire apartment. A table, chairs and a few lanterns will suffice to recreate an en plein air breakfast corner, if space abounds then it will be an excellent choice to add a rocking chair or deck chairs to enjoy the open spaces on sunny days.

The idea of ​​adding a small solarium to the b & b will give the possibility of offering an “extra” service to guests who will be able to live an experience to remember and why not, to repeat. In the same way, also the insertion of a whirlpool bath or a sensory shower inside a large bathroom, or even the restoration of a fireplace in the room, will give added value to the structure, making it unique in its kind. Given that the b & b will be even more successful if it will be personalized and enriched with unique details and services, it is necessary to establish some rules that can help those who decide to make the spaces of their home functional. The furniture will play a fundamental role: in addition to satisfying specific needs, it will help to give new personality to the spaces. Starting from the entrance, a useful idea is to insert a support surface that will be able to host brochures and maps of the city, essential for guests’ stay.
A shelf or a secretary will be sufficient and in a small space a “welcome corner” will be recreated, optimal when visitors arrive. In correspondence with this complement, if the size of the entrance allows it, it will be appropriate to also place two seats (a sofa or two armchairs), thanks to which you can sit while waiting or requesting information from the landlord. The common areas must be furnished with a view to ensuring comfort and practicality: the common room, kitchen and passageways must be adequately illuminated and meet the aesthetic and functional needs of the guests. Since the kitchen is considered the home environment par excellence, each component must be chosen carefully: small appliances can be used to prepare breakfast in order to satisfy the most diverse needs and the necessary electrical outlets, they must guarantee safety and ease of use also for users. The environment should be as welcoming as possible, thanks to the insertion of details such as small maps or stencils on the walls that carry textures or writings that evoke the home environment. Everything must find its place in drawers and compartments in order to maintain order and cleanliness.

The lamps play a fundamental role: those aligned above the table return an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, giving a contemporary touch to the whole. The common relaxation room, on the other hand, must ensure tranquility and encourage socialization: a sofa or comfortable seats, a central table and a stereo system to spread a low background music that does not obstruct the conversation. It is preferable to avoid the inclusion of televisions to encourage dialogue between guests. As for the rooms, single or double beds that meet the ergonomic rules and the needs for comfort will be indispensable, accompanied by bedside tables and lamps. The wardrobe can be placed against the wall or recessed into the wall, in any case it is good that it is measured according to the needs of the guests in the room. A plus is characterized by the desk – seat set, useful for carrying out short activities on the PC or placing personal effects.
Furnishing accessories such as mirrors, clocks and shelves with books, together with textiles, contribute to give personality to the environment.

From apartment to B&B: breakfast service

It takes just a few small tricks to make a difference compared to competitors in the non-hotel sector: a rich breakfast and impeccable hygiene

Home Automation

In some cases of functionalization of an old bed and breakfast apartment, home automation is considered an indispensable aid for the correct management of the structure. Home automation refers to the discipline aimed at improving home life through the insertion of intelligent systems. In fact, thanks to the use of new technologies, domestic systems are able to operate in an integrated and computerized way, ensuring greater safety in terms of water and gas leaks and intrusions by external and unauthorized persons to enter the b & b. . These are solutions adopted above all in the event that the owner of the house, despite being a resident of the structure, is outside the building for most of the day and in this way it will be possible to control access and security remotely. To date, home automation still affects a few cases of accommodation and specifically bed and breakfasts, but is intended to be used more frequently in order to “streamline” its management and operation.

From apartment to B&B:

categorie blocchi cad correlate

Hotel - hospitality

Furnishings - Interior design

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