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Interior Design

Before and After – An Airbnb Makeover

By Colleen · July 31, 2018



With the rise of the sharing economy, Airbnb rentals have become all the rage. People are turning extra rooms, garages and even their entire homes into income-producing accommodations. I recently had the opportunity to design unused space above a garage into a two-bedroom Airbnb, now christened the Pinon Grove Barnhouse.  The property is in the Colorado mountain town of Salida, located on the Arkansas river. The town is a year-round destination offering rafting, kayaking, fishing and hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter at the Monarch Ski Resort located just 15 minutes from town. And the town is sorely lacking in nice, hotel accommodations, unless you really love staying at the Super 8. In other words, it was a perfect opportunity for an Airbnb!

Since one of the goals of operating an Airbnb is to make money, the owners did not want to spend a ton of it getting the space in shape for guests. But at the same time, they wanted the space to be cool and inviting. Design on a dime, as they say.

Before, the space was one big open room, with a dated kitchen tucked into the corner, measuring about 1000 square feet.

The space had a cool, loft vibe about it, but the owners thought it would be more practical (and better for rental potential) to divide the space up with traditional bedrooms. So I designed two new bedrooms, one sized to fit a king bed and a smaller one to fit a queen bed. This left enough space for an open living-dining area, as well as an airy hallway and the kitchen. (There is also a large bathroom that wasn’t remodeled during the project.)

Once the construction was done, the fun part began! Although the space was organically enhanced with lots of windows looking out to the beautiful surrounding mountains, all of the interior finishes were, um, shall we say dated? (See “boob” light above and ugly ceiling fans!) Because it is a mountain house, I wanted to retain the Western charm, but bring in some modern elements. So I swapped out all of the light fixtures. Boob light gone, sleek low-profile ceiling fan in its place, accompanied by some industrial barn lights in the hallway and kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen, out went all the dated appliances and in came timeless stainless steel ones. Down came all the dark wood upper cabinets. A pair of white, floating shelves took their place. The lower cabinets got a couple coats of Sherwin Williams Clary Sage paint.

Then we needed to furnish the Barnhouse. An important consideration was that Airbnbs get heavy use – that meant no precious pieces of furniture, nothing expensive, and nothing fragile. Virtually all of the furnishings, except for the beds and the sofa, were found locally in antique shops. And IKEA for the housewares!

The owners were happy with the result – and have been getting rave reviews from their Airbnb guests! Do you have a space you can turn into an Airbnb? Contact us if you need help! And you can check out the Pinon Grove Barnhouse here.

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