When all of the hotels in San Francisco were sold out due to a conference, Joe and Brian rented out their living room with nothing other than a few air mattresses. This bed and breakfast created out of, well, thin air, ushered in the era of Airbnb. From simple beginnings to over 5 million listings worldwide, Airbnb is no stranger to transformative experiences. Here are just some of the Airbnb renovation stories we love.
A couple remodeled their in-law suite while dating, a risky endeavor if you ask us, but whatever magic they were cooking up seriously paid off. In their first year, Lauren and Paul hosted 200 guests. Out of 365 calendar days, 300 nights were booked, leaving less than three months for maintenance between stays. There wasn’t a lack of listings in their area but a lack of quality listings, especially for women traveling alone.
The couple stripped the floors, repainted, and replaced shelving and hardware. While Paul is a furniture maker, Lauren has an eye for design, and she researched what listings received good reviews and included that bottle of rosé as an extra welcome home gift. (Cheers to Lauren!)
The listing mimics the neighborhood from the artwork by a local photographer to the headboard design inspired by a local bar. And after Lauren and Paul completed their renovations, Paul popped the question. Talk about a renovation in our hearts!
Susie and Mitch are true heroes, heralding in the tradition of Airbnb with this historic colonial transformation. During renovations, the pair moved into the house and decided on a floor layout. But after living in the space and with reality settling in with two littles, they realized that lugging hoards of laundry downstairs just for it to be its large laundry room wasn’t beneficial to anyone.
So, Susie and Mitch relocated the washer and dryer into an area that became another bathroom, making the listing into a two-bedroom suite. The duo saved money by keeping a lot of the original fixtures and cabinetry, which only increased the charm of the space.
While they were worrying that the bathroom would be lackluster, their neighbor was giving away a bathtub from the 1920s. Talk about divine intervention! The couple jumped at the chance (literally, they started jumping) and elevated the bathroom with a “new” tub to an eclectic, mid-century bungalow.
In 2017, Kim and Scott took a trip to southwest Michigan. Between the endless rain and rolling hills covered in trees, the pair fell harder than the changing leaves. They purchased a cottage just four months later and dubbed it: the Tree House. They had to do some serious work to make it the simple, cozy, and clean listing it is today.
They pulled up the laminate flooring in the kitchen to find the original douglas fir wood from the 1930s. Needless to say, they refinished all of the wood floors, resulting in a shade of light tan, and incorporated this new feel into the entire design.
The natural feel of the original wood influenced the entire composition of the house, from the rustic bar stools to retro-looking but high-tech appliances, all while maintaining a neutral color palette. White cabinets and industrial fixtures lead to the open shelved floating cabinet for a clean, minimalist style. With subway tile and quartz countertops, we’re already packing our bags.
As an avid designer, Jenna is no stranger to seizing opportunities and whipping up extraordinary experiences. The backyard of this riverside retreat was mismatched and pieced together with various styles of tiles and an impractical patio shape. So, she tore up the road to nowhere (any Ozzy fans?), stripped the patio to expose the concrete slab, and stenciled on a design. Instead of a random road, some gravel, a fire pit, and chairs invite guests to stop and visit for a spell.
A no-mow and low-maintenance yard is essential for upkeep between bookings for an Airbnb listing. Jenna ripped up the dormant sod in exchange for fabric liner, an irrigation system, and shrubs. Dark brown mulch covered the liner, and stepping stones placed throughout the bark turned the dry grass into islands of greenery.
Planters with wood posts match the additional patio furniture of oak chairs and a long dining table. The contrast of the white fence with dark ground evokes a modern design oddly similar to white marshmallows, dark chocolate, and tan crackers. Coincidence? We think Jenna knows how to tug at our heartstrings and our bellies.
Despite its name, this is our favorite listing. This 1905 brick, Spanish-style home in Seattle took nine months to renovate on top of 4 years’ worth of small improvements to get it ready for Airbnb.
Cathy and Garrett knocked down a wall in the kitchen and framed some additional walls to give the home’s layout a better flow. This created space for a second bathroom near the master bedroom. Instead of completely tearing out the kitchen, the couple kept the original cabinets and opted to upgrade the sink. Ensuring that the bones stayed the same retained a grounded quality to the rustic home.
The couple actually moved into the house during renovations as it made more sense to recoup some funds by renting out their already completed home. And wouldn’t you know it, they turned this house into a home too. Just after completing renovations, Cathy gave birth to their second child in the Dexter House. Any guesses as to the baby’s name?
These are just some of the thousands of Airbnb renovation stories out there. Each one is as unique as the listing, those who renovate it, and those who book the place. Renovations can certainly increase the value of a property. They can also create spaces people will always be tied to, a place of gathering and memory-making. Now excuse me while I pack my suitcase and book my next Airbnb stay.
Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.
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