Tacoma Converted Garage // A Proper Introduction + How to house hack like a single lady

THE TACOMA CONVERTED GARAGE

We’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage project for 5 months now (including this dining nook makeover), and we’ll be spending lots more time over there this Fall. So I thought it was time to do a proper introduction to the project here on the blog.

Tacoma Converted Garage // from our dining nook makeover with Metrie

About the Property and the House Hack

The Tacoma Converted Garage is the third unit of a victorian triplex in Tacoma, 30 miles of Seattle. While I wish Garrett and I owned this old beauty (1890s…swoon), alas, we do not. But it is in the family. Garrett’s sister, Naysa, bought this triplex back in 2015 and moved into the third unit (aka the converted garage) while renting out the apartments in the main house. There’s a lot to unpack about this property so let’s get to it.

How to House Hack Like a Single Lady

This was Naysa’s first home purchase and she made it as a single woman. I wanted to point that out because what Garrett and I do is always about ‘we’ and ‘us’ but there are single people taking on just as much and they’re doing it with only two hands. I’m immensely impressed by this (as an identical twin, doing things by myself is far from my comfort zone) and can only imagine how daunting it is to buy, renovate, and rent out a home by oneself. Naysa is fearless and awesome and a total #rolemodel.

Second, Naysa has taken on ALL of the landlord duties herself. Or, I should say, landlady duties. Of course Naysa has a mentor in her brother who’s just a phone call away, but Naysa has become a landlady in her own right. She advertises vacancies, writes leases, maintains the property, and deals with the finances on her own.

Also of note, this property is in a great neighborhood of Tacoma and Naysa probably couldn’t have afforded a home in here without the added benefit of rental income. Speaking of rental income, Tacoma has seen a healthy increase in rents over the past 3 years and Naysa’s renters (in the main house) now pay the mortgage for the entire property. This is the goal of house hacking and Naysa has nailed it. Also, apparently house hacking runs in our family 😉

The Story Behind the House Hack (aka $150,000 in Student Loan Debt)

While house hacking was a necessity for Garrett and I, Naysa’s back story is a little different. Naysa went to school for 8 years to become a veterinarian and came out of college with $150,000 in student loans. Her student loan payment is a huge monthly burden on her budget. So when it came time to buy a home, she looked for a property that could help with her finances. In the end, this triplex made it possible for her to pay down her loans and own a home in an awesome neighborhood. Impressive for anyone, this feat is especially notable for a single lady coming out of college with six figures of debt.

One more note: we’ve never shared someone else’s house hacking journey before but I think there’s a lot of value in it. So we asked Naysa if we could share her story on the blog in hopes that other’s can get something from it.

Tacoma Converted Garage renovation // Cathy, Garrett, and Naysa

Now back to the renovation…

The #TacomaConvertedGarage Renovation

The original finishes in the garage apartment were rough to say the least. It’s unclear when the garage was converted into an apartment, but regardless, it needed renovated again. This year, Naysa finally pulled the trigger. And because life is always throwing curveballs, Naysa got a new job in Ellensburg shortly after starting on the plans. Ha! Renovating now requires a commute, but on the plus side, Naysa now lives near us and coaches our son’s soccer team (did I mention how awesome Naysa is…?!).

Unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of the Tacoma Converted Garage before demo began, but these at least should give you a feel for the architecture and flow of the space. And if you get queasy just looking at rough spaces, scroll ahead for the floor plan and design board.

Like I said, it was rough.

Floorplans and Design Boards

Every square inch of this unit is being renovated. Not only are we gutting the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry space, but the entire unit is getting new electrical, plumbing, and heating. We’re opening up the kitchen and living spaces and carving out a second bedroom from a defunct corner. Here is the ‘before’  floorplan:

And here’s what the floorplan looks like after framing:

As far as the design, we’re working with the existing industrial, modern vibe and bringing in a bit of the Grit and Polish aestethic. That means bright whites, timeless appeal, and natural materials. We’ll be keeping as many of the original character-rich elements as possible: concrete floors, tongue-and-grove walls, wood beams and posts, and sloped ceilings. Bella (our intern from the Spring who  graduated and took a full-time job…miss you, Bella!) put together design boards for Naysa’s, and I’m including them below. A couple elements have evolved (and surely more still will), but the overall look and feel is spot on.

What’s Next

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we’ve been working on the Tacoma Converted Garage for the better part of 5 months now and believe it or not, we’ve accomplished a few things: demo, electrical rough-in and service change, framing, drywall, plumbing rough-in, dining nook makeover, and the original concrete floors were polished. And now we’re to the fun part – putting the place back together! We’ll be bringing you guys along as we wrap up this space over the next few months.

First up: the built-in hood vent that Garrett crafted this weekend (we have a DIY tutorial coming later this week!). Can’t wait to see this unit take shape!

Related Posts

Dining nook picture frame molding how-to // Vintage Industrial dining nook reveal

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We Rented Out Our Home for 5 Weekends This Summer And Here’s How It Went (and What we Earned)

THE FARMHOUSE

This summer, we rented out our home for 5 weekend stays (plus one 6-day stay) on Airbnb and Homeaway. I shared why we were doing that here and our first experience with HomeAway here (and some tips for you to rent your own home out here), but I wanted to share a recap now that we’re wrapping up our summer rentals. Read on for pros and cons from our experience.


PROS

Earnings

Probably the best part about renting out our home for short stays are the earnings. This summer, we took home just shy of $6,000 at the Farmhouse and have another $2,500 in bookings coming our way later in the Fall. That’s $8,500 in total! I like to call these funds ‘fun money’ since it’s not part of our monthly budgeting, and we plan to use this haul for a family adventure in Europe later this year. And while we’re away, we’ll be booking more stays at the Farmhouse to subsidize even more travel or reno projects or paying down our mortgage or saving for college or…well you get the point. It’s a winning cycle!

Clean House

While the money is great, there’s nothing like walking into your insanely clean home after it’s been rented out for the weekend. Ahhhhhh. A clean home is good for the soul. Even if it takes our kids approximately 30 minutes to have stuff everywhere, the homecoming is worth it’s weight in gold!

It got us Out

I’m definitely a homebody (although my husband is much less so) and it’s easy for me to say ‘let’s just stay home this weekend’. But renting out our home ensured that I would plan camping trips and family visits throughout the summer. While this summer ended up being a little busier than I would have liked, none of us regretted the extra time spent with family and friends while camping, exploring, and making memories.

Sharing with Others

In a world that can often feel isolated, it was nice to share our home with others. Many of our guests left us notes detailing what they loved about our home and their stay. And it was immensely satisfying to read about our home through other people’s memorable experiences. Sharing can just feel good, you know?


CONS

Scheduling

My biggest con to renting out our primary residence was scheduling. With our Seattle Airbnb’s in full swing this summer, the extra bookings at our Farmhouse had my head swimming with the buzz of it all. There was always a house to clean, a message to send, and a special request to coordinate. We’ll be making some adjustments to our rental work load in the future (in fact, we’re gearing up to sell one of our rentals right now!), but not at the Farmhouse. We plan to continue renting out our Farmhouse a bit every year, at least for the forceable future (you can read why that is here).

Cleaning

While coming home to a clean home is one of my biggest PROs for renting out our primary residence, it’s also one of the biggest CONs. Our home is 2800sf and takes a looong time to tiddy and clean. The first time it took us forever and every time after that it’s taken us a little less time, but still forever. Quite honestly, we would never clean that extensively just for ourselves.

Sources

Room sources available here

Similar posts

3 Reasons to rent out your home for a weekend // How to prepare your home for a weekend rental // Our first experience using HomeAway

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We Rented Our Home Out for a Weekend on HomeAway and Here’s How it Went

THE FARMHOUSE

If you follow us on Instagram, you already know that we rented out our Farmhouse on HomeAway for Memorial Day Weekend. We had plans to be away in Oregon for the long weekend, so when the last-minute booking came through, it felt like a win-win. But how did it turn out?

All photos from Our Farmhouse // sources and more information available here

I should back up and mention that while this booking was last minute, we were already planning on renting out our home for a few weekends on Airbnb this summer (you can read why we like to rent out our primary residence here). But this booking came up the month before our first Airbnb booking, so our home was far from ready. Let me emphasis that: our home was super, duper, EXTREMELY far from being ready for guests. In fact, we’re in our ‘rental busy season’ with our rentals in Seattle, so our life has been kinda crazy and the Farmhouse was a wee bit neglected.

Getting the House Ready

The Farmhouse is ~2900sf and has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. So it’s probably no surprise that it was a big job getting the home ready for our HomeAway guests. Every room needed tidied and a deep clean. Ugh. Thankfully Nana took the kids for the day, so Garrett and I could focus on cleaning (and packing for our vacation). In the end, it took Garrett and I about 9 hours to get the house ready, or 18 hours of scrubbing, organizing, and styling combined.

Admittedly, that is a TON of time to spend cleaning and tidying your home. But here’s the deal: we were cleaning and tidying our home. It felt like every minute we scrubbed and vacuumed and put toys away was self-serving because we were going to get to enjoy our clean home after our guests went home too. That’s definitely the number one thing I like about renting out our primary home vs. our rentals (that are 200 miles away in Seattle) – the time spent cleaning and maintaing the property is for our pleasure too. Plus it’s much easier to work at a house that is 0 miles away. And now that we got this big clean out of the way, preparing for our Airbnb host weekends should take a fraction of the time. Phew!

Of course it was possible that the guests would be awful and leave our home messier than it was to begin with. But with only a 2-night stay, the odds were that the home would be in great shape when we returned. Honestly, we’ve found that most guests are respectful and leave the house relatively clean. After years of renting our Seattle properties out on Airbnb, we’ve had only a handful of messy guests. And even those guests could be cleaned up after in a few hours.

The Host Experience

So how was our host experience? The proof is really in the homecoming. Did they leave a wet load of laundry in the washing machine? Did they sacrifice a lamb in our living room? Did they take out the trash? Those were the questions that went through my mind when we were driving back home.

Well, I’m happy to report that there was no wet load of laundry, no dead lamb (thank goodness!), and the garbage was bagged and left in the trashcan by the road. And the house was almost as clean as we had left it. The guests’ sheets were still on the beds, so those needed stripped and washed. And quite a few leaves had blown in one window in Daphne’s bedroom. A couple sinks were in need of another clean too. But all in all, the house was much cleaner than my kids would have left it after 2 nights 😉

To get the home back ready for us, Garrett and I tag-teamed our homecoming. Garrett cooked a quick dinner with the kids while I ran around and tidied and cleaned. It took me about 1 hour to strip and make the beds, collect dirty towels, touch up the bathrooms, and vacuum the floors. And best of all…our home was the cleanest it’s been in a very long time!

Would we do it Again?

In the end, Garrett and I were both happy with renting our home out for the weekend. Do we want to do it every weekend? No. But renting the house out once in a while – especially when we had plans to be out of town anyway – is a great way to earn extra income and keep our home cleaner.

This was our first time using HomeAway so I’m planning to do a comparison between hosting on Airbnb and HomeAway at some point. In the meantime, is there anything else you’re wanting to know about renting your home out for a weekend? Or if you’ve done something similar, what was your experience like?

Sources

All sources available here

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How to Clean Your Home / 3 Reasons to Rent Your Home for a Weekend /

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Bryant House // Bathroom & Office Airbnb Makeover

THE BRYANT HOUSE

This is part 5 of our Bryant House Airbnb makeover.  See more of this series here: part 1 (why we turned a traditional rental into an Airbnb), part 2 (living room), part 3 (master bedroom), part 4 (kitchen and dining nook) and part 5 (bathroom and office)

Well guys, this is the last part of the Bryant House makeover that I have left to show you.  I’ll probably still write another post on Airbnb hosting – tips, essentials, lessons learned, etc – but that might not be for a little while.  In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or topics you want me to cover!

Today, we’re going to look at the bathroom and second bedroom at the Bryant House.  Let’s start with the small but efficient bathroom.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bathroom 2

I really wanted to start this post with a photo of this bathroom pre-renovation, but I couldn’t find one since we renovated this house before I started the blog and I was way less judicious about taking photos back then.  As small as this room is today, it was even smaller when we bought the house.  The area the tub now occupies was originally the master closet, so the whole bathroom was shrunk by 2.5 feet in width.  Trust me when I say, it was TINY, even by old house standards!

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bathroom sinkThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bathroom

I’m sure you guys have gathered by now that I am a fan of clawfoot tubs.  Garrett, not so much.  Somehow I won out in this bathroom, though I fully admit that they don’t make for the best showering experience.  But still, they are so charming and beautiful and sturdy and the perfect solution for a small space.  I found this tub at a local salvage shop along with the sink and we painted both in Mango Gold (I believe it was a Ralph Lauren color sold through Home Depot).  I love how cheery they are.

As a rental, we stock this bathroom with white towels, shampoo/conditioner, soap, TP.  We also started leaving black washcloths in our Airbnb bathrooms for makeup removal.  Before we stocked these, we noticed quite a few of our white towels stained from makeup.

Airbnb host tip // provide black washcloths for makeup removal to limit staining on white linens

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bathroom tub detail

For Airbnb, we planned to convert the second bedroom into a bunk room, but serendipitously Garrett grabbed the wrong bed frame at IKEA.  We discovered the error on the last night of our 3-day makeover, and by then it was too late to make another trip to IKEA.  But the stars aligned for Garrett and his error ended up saving us a chunk of change.  You see, the next day Garrett had a tour of the house lined up for a couple that was interested in renting month-to-month.  And wouldn’t you know it, they took the house on the spot, and since they didn’t have kids, they asked for an office instead of a second bedroom.

Can you believe we had a desk, rug, chair, and curtain just sitting in our basement?  I guess that’s the benefit of having had moved so many times in the past 8 years. Ha!  After purging our basement, we were able to whip this room up for $0 in an afternoon.  A win for Garrett…but don’t tell him I said that.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office desk The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office curtainThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office from Living RoomThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office chair

This second bedroom also offered an ideal spot to store extra linens and supplies since there isn’t a linen closet in the house.  For all of our Airbnb’s we have a central location for sheets, towels, vacuum, iron, and a First Aid kit that guests can easily find if needed.  Storing all of this together also makes turns a little easier.

Airbnb host tip // leave extra bed linens, towels, and a first aid kit in a spot accessible to guests

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office closet

Admittedly, this room will likely transform to a bunk room when the house converts to an Airbnb at the end of the couple’s month-to-month tenancy.  At that point, the linen storage will likely end up in the basement by the laundry and this sweet little office furniture will end up back in storage.  But in the meantime, I’m pretty happy with this serendipitous (and free!) office.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office lamp The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Office 2

sources: desk // chair // rug (similar) // lamp // pillows

That’s the last of the Bryant House Airbnb spaces.  It isn’t a large house by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a light and bright and comfortable – just the way an Airbnb rental should be!

xoxo

-Cathy

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Bryant House // Kitchen and Dining Room Airbnb Makeover

THE BRYANT HOUSE

This is part 4 of our Bryant House Airbnb makeover.  See more of this series here: part 1 (why we turned a traditional rental into an Airbnb), part 2 (living room), part 3 (master bedroom), part 4 (kitchen and dining nook) and part 5 (bathroom and office)

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen 4

The Bryant House kitchen and attached dining room is one of my favorite renovations to date.  We tackled this space in 2013, and although there are things I’d change today (like those miss-colored floor boards), I still love the design, simplicity, and functionality of this room.  But I must admit, the reason that this is one of my favorites has little to do with all that…it’s because this room gets the best natural light.  There are windows facing east, south, and west, which we enhanced by removing an interior wall and adding 2 sliding glass doors to the backyard.  I also love the built-in banquette in the dining nook, and in fact, my fondest memories of living in this house are from right there.  Wilder was born at the Bryant House shortly after we completed this kitchen remodel, and we spent so many late nights and early mornings sitting at the table, playing games with friends and getting to know our baby boy.  Needless to say, it was fun to be back here in August, this time with our 3rd baby, converting the house to an Airbnb/month-to-month rental over 3 days.

Before I show you more of what this room looks like now, I wanted take you back 5 years ago to what it looked like pre-renovation.  In parts 2 and 3 of this series, I showed you the Bryant House as it looked when we arrived to do the 3 day makeover, but since this kitchen didn’t need furnishing (the hutch and table are both permanent fixtures at the house), I thought pre-renovation photos would be a whole lot more fun.  So let’s take a walk down memory lane and look back to what this room was like when we bought the house.  These ‘before’ pictures are straight off of my phone, taken at night and completely unedited, so excuse the quality.

This first ‘before’ photo is from the same vantage point as the above photo.

Photo Oct 19, 5 53 30 PM

Ugh soffit.  And don’t get me started on those cheap cabinets.  Any why why is such a small space shrunk even further with a wall running down the center of the room?! Speaking of that wall, it separated the tiny dining space from the kitchen.  Here is what the dining space looked like back in 2012 (I’m barely pregnant with Wilder in this next shot and look oh so thrilled ;):

Photo Oct 19, 5 53 50 PM

As you can see, the dining space was originally small, dark, and completely closed off from everything.  Honestly, I’m not sure anyone ever used this space.  I’d like to think that by removing the wall, adding a sliding door to the backyard, and building in banquette seating, we increased the usability of this room by 1000%.   Yes, 1000%!  Here’s that same view today:

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining Nook

Ah…much better!  We didn’t have to do much in the ding room during the reno (the windows, floor, walls are all original) but we did add that sliding door, build the banquette, replace the light, and add shelving to the nook.  I’ll share more of this dining space in a second, but first, let’s do one more before and after, because they are just so fun.

Before:

Photo Oct 19, 5 53 39 PM

After:

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen 7

Gosh that makes me happy.  The big change here was removing the old chimney, which terminated into the wall (that big lump in the wall by the doorway in the before photo).  We never could quite figure out whey it didn’t extend into the basement like 99% of all chimneys I’ve ever seen, but there you have it.  This chimney stopped mid-wall.  There was no fireplace, gas stove, or HVAC attached to the chimney, so it made removing it easy – we just had to patch the roof.

Let’s get back to the Airbnb makeover part of this post.  While we didn’t have to buy any furniture for this room, we did buy a ton of supplies.  I won’t provide a complete list here because it would be a mile long, but think about everything you use in your kitchen on a daily basis and we pretty much bought it.  Dishes, silverware, coffee pot, baking pans, drinking glasses, knives, oven mitts, yada, yada, yada.  Two suggestions I have for anyone setting up an Airbnb – get a teapot (you’d be surprised how often it’s requested) and buy a simple coffee pot that is easy to operate.

Airbnb host tip // provide guests with a teapot and the simplest coffee pot you can find (that even coffee-deprived, jet-lagged people can operate first thing in the morning)

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen SinkThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen 3The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Kitchen to Living room

To give you an idea of how this space connects to the rest of the house, the living room window in the previous photo is at the front of the house.  And here’s the reverse view from the living room looking into the kitchen and dining space.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Room to kitchenThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Kitchen long .2The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen 5

This kitchen is narrow and long, and doesn’t have a ton of countertop space, so we brought in a rolling metal cart to function as an island.  The rolling cart works great in here because it provides a ton of countertop space (it’s 2’x4′) but doesn’t take a lot of visual space, plus it can be moved around to where it’s needed.  If you have a similar issue in your own kitchen, I highly recommend a similar cart!  BTW, all the sources are listed at the bottom of this post.

The hutch by the sliding door is another awkward-space solution.  That area isn’t deep enough for standard-depth cabinets and countertops, and a custom cabinet for this spot would have been pretty pricey, so I found this hutch on Craigslist.  It provides a ton of storage but was one-fifth the price of cabinets.  I like that it adds a little interest at the end of the kitchen too.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Kitchen

One of my favorite parts of the design of this room is those original cabinets.  You guys probably know by now that I’m always trying to save original cabinets in our old houses, and I was thrilled it actually worked out in here.  To integrate them with the new cabinets on the other side of the kitchen, we gave these oldies a coat of paint (the same color as the new cabinets) and some fresh hardware.  The countertop isn’t very deep (maybe 18″), so it functions great as a butlers pantry/storage space.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Kitchen to Dining

Another favorite in this space is the dining nook.  I LOVE built-in dining spaces as a general rule and this one fits perfectly into this bump-out space.  This dining space is sure to get a ton of use from guests and can fit a surprisingly large number of folks for such a small table (it’s 42″ diameter).

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining NookThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining Nook 2The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining Table

As part of the decor, I included a basket with kids books and filled an old picnic basket (yes, another picnic basket 😉 with some of our favorite games for guests to enjoy.  I love finding games to play when we stay at other people’s homes, so I wanted to have that here too.

Airbnb host tip // provide a few games for guests of all ages to entertain themselves with.

Other than the games, I kept the decor light, bright, and organic like the rest of the house.  Hopefully guests find it as welcoming and enjoyable as we did!

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining Shelves

Sources: rolling cart  // countertops // backsplash (similar) // faucet (similar) // sink (we under-mounted it) // drawer pulls // cabinet latches // knife set // soap set // utensil crock // hanging light // pillows // stripe throw // dining chairs // cement pot (similar) // eucalyptus vase // wood frog // rugs

Gosh I miss this sweet space 🙂  And in case you’re wondering, this is how this kitchen and dining space was styled when we lived here. I like it way better now, but of course, it helps that you don’t need as much stuff when you don’t live in a house full time.  I’d love to hear what you guys think of this space!

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Kitchen G and C

There we are, at the end of the 3-day makeover, tired and yet completely energized.  Next up, I’m going to show you the bathroom and second bedroom of the Bryant House and share all the drama about the bunk beds turned office. Plus I’ve got an extra post coming at you this week, so look for that on Thursday!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. butcher block countertops

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Bryant House // Master Bedroom Airbnb Makeover

THE BRYANT HOUSE

This is part 3 of our Bryant House Airbnb makeover.  See more of this series here: part 1 (why we turned a traditional rental into an Airbnb), part 2 (living room), part 3 (master bedroom), part 4 (kitchen and dining nook) and part 5 (bathroom and office)

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Master Bedroom Door Knob

Today, I’m going to show you the master bedroom of the Bryant House.  This space is long and narrow, and the window placement has always made the space a little tricky to arrange.  Large east facing windows bring in good morning light, which makes the bedroom light and bright and a pleasure to wake up in.

Over 3 days at the end of August, we transformed this space (and the rest of the house) into an Airbnb/month-to-month rental.  Here’s what the space looked like when the previous tenants moved out:

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb before master bed

We didn’t have too much to do in this space besides clean and furnish it.  I did chose to swap out the overhead lights because the previous ones bugged me so much, but otherwise we kept everything, even the IKEA drapes we’ve had in here (with a good washing, of course).  In case you’re curious about any of the sources, they are all listed at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado, here’s what the space looks like after 3 days of elbow grease.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom 2The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom night stand

I’m not usually one to put a bed in front of a window, but due to the long-and-narrow shape of this room, it made the most sense.  I ordered this bed frame after seeing it in Chris Loves Julia’s guest room because it is the right size for the space and has a vintage vibe.  This is actually the first non-antique bed frame I’ve purchased in years, but I didn’t have time to look for one this time around.  Good thing this bed frame is a great alternative!  We also splurged on a new mattress from Costco, that is so comfortable I wanted to take it home with me.

Airbnb Host Tip // Give guests a good night sleep with a nice mattress.  It’s one of the first things guests notice and comment about.  

This room is so narrow that it made traditional nightstands impossible.  I hunted for the perfect narrow nightstand, looking especially for something antique since they tend to be smaller, but I didn’t have any luck until we happened upon plant stands.  In order to free up the limited tabletop space, we mounted swing arm lights above the nightstands and covered the cords with cord covers.  By the way, I love the look of cord covers!  It’s a must for all wall-hung lights in my book–it makes inexpensive lights (these were only $50!) look much more expensive.

I dressed the side tables up with simple botanical art that was a DIY project the boys and I did back at the Farmhouse. I love the pop of green.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom Botanical 2The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom Closet

This bedroom originally had two closets, but four years ago we removed the larger of the two closets to increase the size of the bathroom, which lays directly behind the built-in closet wall.  It was a tough decision to remove storage in an old house (which in my experience is always lacking), but the additional square footage was a game changer for the tiny bathroom.  The second original closet is a small side closet, which Garrett used when we lived here, and it now houses a luggage rack.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom luggage rackThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom 4

For the decor, I stuck with a relaxing, natural, and comfortable look.  Bedrooms are ultimately for unwinding and sleeping, so I tried to focus on creating a calm space, keeping a neutral palette and simple decor.  I also brought in a bit of nature with the botanical art, plants, wood frog, sheep skin and cowhide rug.

Airbnb Host Tip // patterned sheets make linen storage easier.  Buy different size patterns for different size beds, and you will always know which sheets go where.

One thing that has made Airbnb turns easier for us, is buying patterned sheets.  I used to always stick with white, but we found it really difficult to figure out which set of sheets fit on which bed.  Sometimes I’d be in a hurry to make 3 beds and have to unfold 4 or 5 sets of sheets in order to find the right size (and re-folding sheets is…ugh!).  So now we buy different patterns for different bed sizes, and it’s made my life much easier!

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Master Bedroom CThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Bedroom 1

sources: bed frame // swing arm lights and bulbs // cord cover // overhead lights // night stands // wood frog // sheets // throw pillows // bed blanket // blanket in basket // bench // cowhide // botanical art frame // luggage rack //

That’s all for this simple master bedroom.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Next up, I’ll get to the kitchen and dining spaces.

xoxo

-Cathy

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Bryant House // Living Room Airbnb Makeover

THE BRYANT HOUSE

This is part 2 of our Bryant House Airbnb makeover.  See more of this series here: part 1 (why we turned a traditional rental into an Airbnb), part 2 (living room), part 3 (master bedroom), part 4 (kitchen and dining nook) and part 5 (bathroom and office)

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Room long

sources: couch, hanging chair, blue stripe throw, blue dot art, side table, rug (similar), pillows (IKEA)

The Bryant House’s living room is spacious and full of natural light. The front door (a dutch door!) opens into this room, so it’s also the main entry. When we got over to the Bryant House at the end of August to complete our 3-day Airbnb makeover, this room needed a good clean.  But other than that and a broken blind, it was in pretty good shape.  Have a look:

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Before Living Room 1 The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Before Living Room 2

Since this is the first room that our Airbnb guests and month-to-month tenants see when they walk into the house, I really wanted to make sure that it sets the stage for their stay.  My goal was a welcoming, bright, organic, and comfortable feel.  That meant lots of throw pillows, slip-covered seating, a neutral palette, plants, relaxed art, and a compiled-over-time vibe that only comes with the addition of antiques.  Thankfully we were able to reuse a lot of furniture that we already owned for this space (the benefit of owning 6 homes…), but we did buy a new sleeper sofa and some finishing touches.

Airbnb Host tip // first impressions are important.  Start your guests’ stay off on the right foot by creating a welcoming entry space.

This house doesn’t have any impressive architectural features.  It’s simple.  Eight foot ceilings, original fir floors, and simple moldings.  But I think that simplicity makes this room really comfortable too.  The space feels humble and approachable, allowing the decor to shine.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Hanging Chair 3The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Room to kitchenThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Living TVThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Plant and Art

sources: art print, gold frame, gold bar cart

This room is arranged to accommodate TV watching and hanging out, but also provides additional sleeping arrangements with a pull-out couch.  The hanging chair is something we bought for the Farmhouse, but wasn’t working, so it found a home here.  The chair adds an element of fun to this fairly basic room and has turned into one of my favorite spots in the house.

I tried to mix a few vintage pieces in with the new finishes we bought for the space. Okay, so I always mix in vintage pieces into our spaces, but in this house I felt it was extra important since so much of the furniture was coming from Ikea and other big box stores.  This room has a 50s-era dresser under the TV, an antique armoire, which serves as the coat closet, and a vintage trunk and picnic basket to give the space a little character.

The internet login information hangs on a clipboard by the front door so guests are sure to find it.

Airbnb Host Tip // place wifi login info in a prominent spot for guest’s ease (by the front door or on the fridge)

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Room 2The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Art VignetteThe Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Old House Photo

Many of our guests are families with young children, so we tailor our spaces accordingly. Baskets of toys, books, and games provide entertainment for little ones throughout the house. And to ensure the house remains tidy, we limit it to that.

Airbnb Tip // Make kids’s stays more fun with books, toys, and games placed strategically throughout the house!  To ensure the house remains tidy, keep it contained to a couple baskets

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Room Couch

That’s it for the living room.  Next week we’ll look at the master bedroom.

xoxo

-Cathy

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Bryant House // Why We Turned a Traditional Rental into an Airbnb

THE BRYANT HOUSE

This is part 1 of our Bryant House Airbnb makeover.  See more of this series here: part 1 (why we turned a traditional rental into an Airbnb), part 2 (living room), part 3 (master bedroom), part 4 (kitchen and dining nook) and part 5 (bathroom and office)

We recently converted one of our Seattle rentals into a furnished Airbnb.  I’ll be sharing the quick transformation of the Bryant House (we did it in just 3 days!) over the next few weeks here on the blog, but today, I wanted to begin with a little history about the house, explain why we converted a long-term rental into an Airbnb/month-to-month rental, and take a peek at the numbers.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Master Bedroom Door Knob

The Bryant House was built in 1920 and is a compact 2 bedroom/1 bathroom bungalow in a cute Seattle neighborhood. We purchased the house in 2012, our second house, and moved into it so we could rent out our first house, which we had already renovated. We did a quick bathroom renovation at the Bryant House and a couple of months later tackled the kitchen and dining rooms. We lived there for just over a year, during which time we welcomed baby Wilder and then bought and renovated the Ravenna House. The Bryant House then became a traditional rental, left unfurnished and leased annually.

Fast forward to 2017. Bryant had seen a few tenants over the years and in August, the most recent lease was up. Garrett and I debated whether to rent it for another year or convert it to an Airbnb, the former of which was easier and the latter of which was definitely harder, but also more lucrative (although it would require an initial investment to furnish the home).  Ultimately we decided to furnish the house and list it on Airbnb.  There were other considerations too – like the neighborhood culture and the house’s busy location next to a coffee shop, restaurants, and a yoga studio – that made this property a good fit for short-term and month-to-month tenants.  And if you’re thinking about a similar conversion, a few other things to consider: local short-term rental laws, the impact of the rental on the neighborhood, and the city housing climate as a whole.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb Living Hanging Chair 3

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Over the past 9 years of being landlords, Garrett and I have found that renting on Airbnb during the summer months and then finding month-to-month tenants for the rest of the year is our ideal rental model. It’s a delicate balancing act between cost, effort, and return, but we make almost double using Airbnb versus any other rental model between June and September (high tourist season in Seattle).  Of course there is the expense of utilities as well as cleanings/turns, which we try to take on ourselves as much as possible, but even with hiring some of that out, we still make substantially more renting through Airbnb over the summer months.

When Fall hits, we like to find month-to-month tenants on Craigslist.  These tenants – who are usually looking to buy a home of their own or are undertaking a renovation on their existing house –  pay between 12-25% more for a furnished rental with flexible lease terms than they would for a traditional year-long, unfurnished rental.  We’ve also found that month-to-month, furnished rentals make close to the same in the Fall/Winter/Spring as Airbnb would over the same time period. But the biggest benefit with this model is not having to clean the property or deal with guest communication (which takes quite a bit of time) for months at a time.  For us, that means less driving over a mountain pass, less time on our cell phones, and lots more time outdoors and with our kids.  So even if we make a bit less on month-to-month tenants than we could on Airbnb during this time, it’s worth it to us.  I will mention that when we haven’t found month-to-month tenants in the Fall/Winter/Spring, we’ve made quite a bit during the holidays and graduation season with Airbnb, so it’s not a bust.

Airbnb Host Tip // balance effort and profit by using Airbnb during peak months and finding month-to-month tenants during slower months. We often use Airbnb for just the summer months and switch to lower-maintenance month-to-month tenants for the rest of the year.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant Airbnb After Dining Table

So that’s a lot of information packed into a few paragraphs, but hopefully I answered the question of why we chose to convert Bryant to an Airbnb/furnished month-to-month rental. One more thing I wanted to share about hosting on Airbnb…it can be really fun. Hosting guests is a great way to meet people (or at least communicate with them) from all over the world. We’ve found that in general, guests are really respectful of our homes, and we have loved sharing our spaces and Seattle with those guests.

Now a bit more about the numbers… I still need to tally the total cost of furnishing the Bryant House (i.e. our initial investment or cost to turn a traditional rental into an Airbnb), but we anticipate the number to come in around $6,000. And while that is a lot of money, it is not a very large budget for furnishing an entire home. I had to be pretty creative to keep this budget in check by utilizing a lot of hand-me-down furniture and finishes we had stored from other properties.

From an investment standpoint, our return on converting Bryant to an Airbnb/month-to-month rental looks like this: we expect to recoup our initial investment in the first 11 months, which means the switch to Airbnb would pay off before the end of the first year. Admittedly it’s hard to project exactly how Bryant will rent over the year – that’s the constant uncertainty that goes along with being a landlord – but that’s our projection based on past experiences.

Next up, I’ll be sharing the transformation of the house, starting with the living room, plus tons more tips for Airbnb hosts. Let me know if you guys liked this look into the life of a landlord and/or if you have any more Airbnb questions. And if you happen to be an Airbnb yourself, I’d love to hear any advice you have for other hosts!

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. The ‘How I Built This’ podcast featuring the Airbnb founders.  It’s a great listen!

p.p.s. the Bryant House kitchen renovation

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