We all know that Airbnb is a great option for finding unique places to stay and gather design inspiration, but there are also many reasons why hosting can be an interesting opportunity for architects, especially for those looking to spotlight their practice. Not only can hosting offer a source of extra income, it also allows architects to share their passion with a wider audience of guests — and sometimes even find new clients in the process. Hosts also have complete control over their schedule and house rules, and can host just about anything, from private rooms and vacation houses to treetop cabins.
But don’t just take our word for it — dozens of architect Hosts have discovered the joys and benefits of allowing guests to experience their work firsthand. We’ve spoken to several top architects-turned-Hosts to glean their tips and tricks — not to mention showcasing architectural gems where you can book a stay — which we’ll be sharing over the course of this special series.
Here’s a sneak peek at the homes that our expert architect Hosts have listed on Airbnb, and a taste of the insights they can offer on how to host a thoughtfully designed listing of your own.
Inspired by the Stahl House — a.k.a. Case Study House #22 — Superhost Mark Bearak’s “Hudson Pool House” brings a bit of California modernism to upstate New York. Of course, Pierre Koenig’s mid-century jewelbox had to be updated (not to mention winter-proofed), so architect Mark Bearak opted for glulam timber for the structure and has designed the house as ‘Open Source’, a contemporary take on the case study movement.
For now, they’ve opened their doors to guests via Airbnb. “We host whenever we are not using the space,” Bearak says of the modern pool house in Hudson, New York. “We like that our home is enjoyed while we are not there! It introduces us to people who share our same passion for architecture, and makes us want to design more interesting and unique spaces.”
Plano, TX-based Superhost Corey Reinaker started out hosting a spare bedroom and found that the extra income enabled him to scale up his ambitions to a standalone guesthouse. “We found that we enjoyed hosting, and that the extra income presented an opportunity to rebuild an aging accessory workshop building in our backyard,” he relates. “I did all the design work and we did the bulk of construction ourselves. The project has been a complete success, having earned back its cost within roughly 18 months.”
The project served not only as a canvas for Reinaker to explore his interest in Scandinavian design, but also a means of conducting market research. “As a designer and a Host, it is critical to think through how guests will use and interact with a space that they have never been in before. We’ve often been surprised by questions from guests about things we thought were obvious. Such dialogue helps to reveal our own blind spots and incorrect assumptions and improve our approach going forward.”
Let’s not forget the appeal of hosting in itself, welcoming guests to your home — especially when it happens to be a midcentury icon. Built in 1961 in southern New Jersey by architect Jules Gregory as his own residence, “The Wave Lambertville” has been carefully preserved by Superhost John Thompson, who “loves the joy in guests’ voices when they arrive, taking in a creative building.”
On the practical side, Thompson notes that “hosting an Airbnb on my property allows me to continue part-time with my architectural practice while also hosting and generating additional income.” Bringing it all together, he reflects that “as a residential architect, providing design services is more than giving homeowners what they’ve requested — it also entails making them aware of what’s possible.”
After the market research comes the marketing itself, and Superhost Kevin Lindores has found that his listings are better than any brochure for Sachs Lindores, the practice that he runs with his partner, a designer. “Airbnb has been a very good marketing tool for our business,” he notes, having carved out a niche for himself with several well-appointed rustic-turned-modern homes in the Catskills and nearby Saugerties. His properties are known as the Wood House, Stone House, Clum House and Burke House and Wigwam.
“We like having the opportunity to design houses for ourselves,” Lindores continues. “It gives us a chance to try ideas that we can use on projects for our clients. We’ve landed quite a few jobs from guests who stayed at our place. Some have been small jobs, but some quite significant. We didn’t expect this when we started.”
Of course, the educational aspect goes both ways. Superhost David Ling acknowledges that “Airbnb has become an integral way I practice my architecture. I now design and build properties with the intent of both creating my vision and sharing it through hosting.” And what a vision it is: His modern coastal home in Amagansett, New York, features floor-to-ceiling windows that brilliantly bring nature — in this case the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island dunes — into the space.
Meanwhile, he notes that “the guest reviews provide important user-generated feedback.” Ling continues: “As an architectural educator, I also see sharing my space as a way of exposing guests to an intimate interaction with the architectural space I designed.”
As these architects note, the reasons to host on Airbnb are as varied as residential practice is. Whether you’re sharing your own home, turning an otherwise unoccupied space into extra earnings, or hosting one you’ve created from scratch, Airbnb allows architects to research, promote, elucidate, and ultimately share their work with a wider audience. Moreover, the financial benefits and the flexibility to host when and how you want can open new opportunities to experiment as well as expand your practice.
Head over to Airbnb to learn more about hosting!