Blair Moore: Breaking Into Short Term Rentals as an Interior Designer

Episode 9 July 07, 2022 00:44:22
Blair Moore: Breaking Into Short Term Rentals as an Interior Designer
The Interior Collective
Blair Moore: Breaking Into Short Term Rentals as an Interior Designer

Jul 07 2022 | 00:44:22


Show Notes

Since the onset of the pandemic, it feels like every designer - myself included - is branching out to beautiful vacation rental properties. It's become an opportunity to stretch some design muscles, enjoy time away from the office, and turn a profit. We're bringing in interior designer and short-term rental maven Blair Moore to discuss the ins and outs of making high-end short-term rentals profitable as a designer.
Balancing a thriving interior design business, running a small fleet of luxury boutique stays, launching a bespoke e-commerce line, and starring on her very own episode of Magnolia Network's Point of View series, Blair Moore is a maverick, muse, and magician. She's mastered the art of a family business and unpretentious luxury. I'm so thrilled to share my conversation with Blair, CEO and Principal of Moore House Design.


We’re welcoming interior designer and luxury hospitality maven, Blair Moore of Moore House Design and Moore House Family, to discuss diversifying your revenue streams as a designer with high-end short term rental properties.
In this episode, Blair and I discuss:
  • The Moore House family-owned and operated business model
  • Crossovers between interior design and luxury hospitality
  • How Moore House expanded into guest stay accommodations
  • Benefits of diversifying your revenue streams
Show Notes
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:02 Hi, this is the interior collective a podcast for the business of beautiful living presented by IDCO studio. And I'm Anastasia Casey today's episode. Topic is about an unconventional business model rooted in authenticity. My guest is Blair more from more house designs and Morehouse stays since the beginning of the pandemic. It feels like every designer out there myself included is branching out to beautiful Airbnbs, as fun, little getaways, stretching their design muscles, enjoying some time away from the office and hoping to turn a little profit balancing a thriving interior design business, running a small fleet of luxury boutique stays launching a bespoke eCommerce line starring on her very own episode of Magnolia. Network's point of view, Blair Moore is both Maverick muse and magician. I met today's guest at our very first session of design camp, and she immediately took my breath away. She's mastered the art of a family business and unpretentious luxury meet Blair Moore, CEO, and principal of Morehouse design. Speaker 0 00:01:03 And co-founder of Morehouse stays. Blair comes to her projects with an out of the box. Creativity staying true to the original character of a space. Morehouse is a family effort with full service design studio, as well as the collection of curated guest days in the new England area, their spaces are heavy on architectural charm, moody tones and timeless finishes. Their passion of sustainability is at the center of their process. As they restore forgotten homes to their former glory, with organic elements and repurpose pieces of history. Blair went to business school in Australia where she grew up studying marketing and advertising, but she went on to earn a fashion degree from Parsons in New York city. A sharp contrast to growing up on a cattle ranch while working in Italy at top fashion houses after graduation, she began developing more house and more house design during her time off. If you can even consider it time off officially launching Morehouse in 2017, Blair spends her time between New York and Rhode Island with her fiance and pup Otis. Welcome Blair. I'm so excited to have you. I have not actually had any FaceTime with you since we are together in Austin for design camp. Two, three years ago, it was definitely a pre COVID design camp. Speaker 1 00:02:15 It was like right at the preface of COVID. I think it was like the month before COVID started in like February. Speaker 0 00:02:22 I think you're right. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:02:24 I think I've been living off that moment of us all being together for like what feels like forever. Speaker 0 00:02:31 Well, it's just so sweet. My heart is so full. Y'all your group still travels together. You were all just at round top. I know you do market together. It's just so cool to see what I had dreamed of with design camp. And then like how much further you all took it? Like, oh my God, I knew we would all be friends, but I think you all like literally text every day, Speaker 1 00:02:58 Every single day, I'm currently getting 30,000 text messages from them right now, because we're all talking about too many things, but they're also all coming to my wedding at the end of this year, which is so exciting. I'm losing my mind. Speaker 0 00:03:12 I a didn't know the wedding was on the schedule. I am so excited to hear that that is officially planned and that is so Fine. You're gonna have to get like a design camp group photo for me and Lindsay. Oh Speaker 1 00:03:23 My gosh. A hundred percent. I mean, just, you know, I mean, small plug free you, but design camp was just such an amazing element of just getting like-minded people together. Just, you know, such incredible people, all talking about the same thing, all very passionate and you know, it's hard to meet your group, your tribe, your people, and then finding that is just like, you can go through life with just that, just from that one moment. So kudos to you guys. Speaker 0 00:03:56 <laugh> thank you. That's so, so, so sweet. I feel that way about every camp. Um, but it's just so cool to see like our original, very first OG camp is like still doing it. Speaker 1 00:04:06 I know you're collecting some pretty cool people that's for sure. Speaker 0 00:04:10 I, I am, that's really what the collective always was. I was like, I'm just gonna collect the coolest people, the most interesting stories and the most like giving souls and just hold them in my pocket forever. Speaker 1 00:04:22 I love that. I think that's perfect. Speaker 0 00:04:25 So Blair, will you give us a little bit of an intro about essentially let's start with the two core businesses, cuz I do know there's more business coming up later this year, but let's start with like what's going on right now? Speaker 1 00:04:37 Yeah. So we've got our main team, which is our design team, which is sort of the main part of our business. We've got a team of seven, uh, receiving warehouse, a design firm that we handle projects we're handling, I think 28 projects right now, all over the country. Um, so, um, a very, very cool one happening in the Telluride and California that everyone's gonna find out about soon. Um, so, um, yeah, so that's our main focus is the design team are for the design side of the business. We build most of our own furniture, um, with a sustainable sort of background. So, uh, focusing on the internals of sofas and the internals of cabinetry supporting local artisans, that sort of thing. And then we have this fun other side of our business, which is the guest day side. Um, so our guest day side essentially is a way that our design team was able to sort of stretch our wings. Speaker 1 00:05:35 Um, now we are a family focused business, but we have a lot of team members that are not family that have become family. Um, so, you know, we just get to stretch our wings, not having a client, tell us exactly what we have to do on a project. Um, but you know, there are give and takes with that in the sense that we have to do it on a tight budget. We have to do it in the sense that it is, uh, wearable, that it can get brutally beaten up consistently. Um, but you know, it's just a, a lifeline of another section of what we do here and we just, we love it. Speaker 0 00:06:13 So for those listening who do not already follow Morehouse stays, tell me about like the general vibe slash plan they're in new England, mostly Rhode Island, is that correct? Correct. And they are the most beautiful rehab historic spaces. Tell us a little bit about that. Speaker 1 00:06:32 Yeah, so essentially, um, most of the cottages are in Rhode Island and then we have a slew of cottages opening up in Maine. We've got one that just launched on the Magnolia network, which is pretty cool. Um, and then we have a hotel opening up up there as well. So, um, how we started essentially was, uh, I have been renovating with my parents houses since I was two. I think <laugh>, uh, tried to get away from it and say, okay, I'm gonna be in fashion because I don't wanna do what my parents do. So, um, that didn't work. I mean, I loved it, loved it very much, but I just, the interior design, uh, restoration historic homes has been in my blood. Like I get giddy when we look at a new historic home. So, you know, since I was very little, my parents had been renovating cottages and renovating houses all over the world from Australia to new England to, you know, everywhere. Speaker 1 00:07:32 And so, um, essentially when we moved back from Australia, I was about 21 years old and headed into the city to go to Parsons. Um, and then mom and dad had purchased like a little cottage that was there and they were always flipping houses. Right. But it was, my dad is a sustainable freak in the sense that if he can use something that's reclaimed or something that has been thrown in a dumpster or something that is wasteful to someone else's eyes, he wants to reuse it in the space. And so for me, you know, I grew up that way and I think that ability where, you know, growing up in Australia where you have to be super thoughtful about how you attain product, how you use that product and how you waste less was really important for me. And that's what I focused on in Parsons was really the sustainable aspect of that sustainable materials, weight, uh, zero waste, that sort of thing. Speaker 1 00:08:30 Um, so, you know, fast forward Parsons finished, I am in, you know, working a job at Ralph Calvin Bottega Vanta and you know, mom had opened up, um, a little cottage, they renovated it, they were gonna move into it. I think this is like every interior designer's life where if their family were rehabbing, they lived in a house that was unfinished. It finished, it sold is crazy. But, um, so yeah, so, uh, they did that and I was like, mom, don't sell it again and move into another place. That's unfinished. Like people wanna experience this. People want to experience what you do, what your she's, the hostess with the mostess. That's just always been her. How can, you know, she create some experience for someone that's coming to stay over at our house. Like same thing happened in Australia. Um, so, you know, I was working at Ralph at that point of time and I started working on the side at being like, okay, well, how can we utilize this? Speaker 1 00:09:37 How can we procure more properties, make it profitable? You know, extend that into, um, a new design was the direction that I was going, but how can I also help her in the sense that she doesn't have to sell a house and you know, just move on, right? A piece of you leaves with that house every time you sell it while it's exciting to jump into something else, it's, you know, a part of you leaves, you know, you're like I put all this blood, sweat and tears into this space and it's individual, it's historic, it's stunning. And you know, you wanna carry that on. So Morehouse stays was born, I guess <laugh> Speaker 0 00:10:19 So Blair and I could have talked about a billion topics and I already told her I'm gonna chase her down to get her on season two, to talk more about the design studio. But I really wanna focus on this concept of stays. I myself have always been completely fascinated by how beautiful this brand is, but also just the functionality of it. To me, it's a dream. I wish I could just collect houses and collect houses and collect houses. But I mean, money's a real thing and you can't just have a bunch of houses that you're paying for and renovating and not willing to sell it or rent it. So this concept is so amazing on these shortterm stays. Speaker 1 00:11:01 Yeah. There's so many avenues of this that you could even go down as well. Speaker 0 00:11:06 <laugh> I'm like, yes, let's talk business models, but first and foremost, I think that you all do it so differently than the traditional short term rental market. Talk to me about how you have really differentiated this, um, from a very basic level that you only book through your site. It's not something that's on Airbnb, um, to the actual experience of staying there. How is it different than a usual short term rental? Speaker 1 00:11:34 Yeah. So the number one thing for me, it's like focused around like three different attributes where it's inspiration, service and memory, right? So the core principle of Morehouse stays is really okay. What is the inspiration that I'm getting as a client or as a guest when they're walking into that house, what is that inspiration that our design team can give them? What is then the service that it makes it feel like a family is looking after them. And then what is that memory that, that space then invokes for the people coming back. And so those three elements, you know, together, they have formulated sort of Morehouse stays and how Morehouse design and Morehouse stays sort of congruently work together. Um, so, you know, did I answer your question there? I went on a tangent. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:12:29 Tangent. I love that tangent. Um, going back when I say that Blair's team is a family team, both biologically, as well as those who have come to her. Um, talk to me about if there is a clear hierarchy or how you divide that up amongst particularly your biological family. Like how does that work? Cause that is a very Speaker 1 00:12:58 Tricky Speaker 0 00:12:58 Line. Speaker 1 00:12:59 Yeah. A very sticky subject. No. Um, I, okay. So I have a business degree first before I went to Parsons. Um, so naturally I think as the eldest in the family and more of sort of a business savvy mindset, I stick to sort of the hierarchy of the CEO of multiple levels of the company. But that being said, you know, there are things that I can't do and we all sort of stick to our superpowers. Right? My mom's superpower is that she is a guest experience extraordinaire. Like she will go bend over backwards for all of the guests. And I think that is something that she really enjoys. That is something that she, you know, she really sits in that zone really, really well. My dad's he's always renovating, always renovating, always fixing is a fixer, right. So, um, very inspirational, crazy kooky Australian man, if you watched the TV show, you got a minute glimpse of it. Speaker 0 00:14:06 <laugh> Speaker 1 00:14:07 Um, but he is the one that's sort of like the backbone at sort of what that structural the structural engineering and everything around the cottages. My skillset is designed, always been designed, always been sort of like, what is the details? How can we make that cohesive? How does that then extend into the guest experience? And I sort of see holistically the entire process, but also filter it through each person. My sister Braley, absolutely incredible at systems. Like she is sort of the backend of the system at, you know, she sees the design, she sees the system, she sees, you know, the marketing aspects. She sees, you know, the execution, the back end, all of that. Um, so that's really her wheelhouse that she sits in and my brother's still younger. He's going to architecture schools, but he likes to help in and out when he's up from SCD. Speaker 1 00:15:03 Um, so I think that's like the family side. And then we filled in the blanks with our team. So like the guest days, like if we're gonna talk about like a larger pro um, um, holistic side of the, of the guest days team we have on our design team, we have seven on our guest days team. We have 14, right? So that is stylist stagers, um, cleaners, um, um, maintenance men, um, you know, that whole, the whole marketing side, um, the online execution and then our design team is project management design online, um, Instagram, eCommerce, that sort of thing. Um, so I think we all sort of work together, but there's definitely a hierarchy in what everyone's, you know, zone of genius is and let them sit in that zone of genius. Speaker 0 00:15:59 So I think the question that a lot of people are wondering is like, it's like, how does one, I, I can wrap my head around buying one property mm-hmm <affirmative>, but then it's like, how does that, how do you go into buying multiple properties? Did you all take on investors? Do you do the rentals completely cover and then some, and that's how you can buy others. Can you talk to us a little bit about the financial structure of what it takes to really go from your first to a few, and then in your case to a few handfuls <laugh> Speaker 1 00:16:34 <laugh> um, so, you know, we are not the type of people that grew up with a ton of money. We just, you know, all worked our way up and worked and saved our little pennies. So I think that is just something from the get go, you know, we weren't handed a, you know, savings account, we built it. So, and we have built everything pretty much on the backbone of, of profit. So we've not really taken any investors or anything like that on nor I do. I think we ever will. Um, there's enough, <laugh> there's enough, um, problems within the family to run things, adding another investor in, I think will just be too much for them to handle. Um, so that being said, um, the design team is definitely our bread and butter. Like our largest margins, our largest profit share is the design team. Speaker 1 00:17:28 The guest days team absolutely does run a profit. And then you just have to structure it in a way that, you know, you're purchasing properties that are not a million dollars of property. You're purchasing properties that are in upcoming neighborhoods, you know, somewhere that my dad has the greatest eye at he's, what is he, 60 something. Now he has never been wrong and never not turned a profit, like a large profit on a property. So I think that having him in our wheelhouse, you know, is, you know, his stroke of genius is that, but they were purchasing properties for a hundred, $130,000, and then pouring their time, their energy and their labor into it that luckily now we're worth, you know, far more than that. But I think you just have to have a strong mindset on, okay, here's a neighboring property that maybe is up and coming, um, looking at areas that it's the worst house on the street, you know, that sort of thing, real estate market really, you know, lends itself into that. But in today's, you know, wheelhouse where we're all looking at a starter home at like a million dollars for a starter home, it's insane. So it's a little bit more difficult, you know, but there are still those areas that are diamonds in the rough. And I think for us, that's where we started and we, where we've always sat is where is that diamond in the rough? Where is that next place? Like Maine is absolutely blowing up right now. And it's still affordable, but only for a certain period of time. Um, Speaker 0 00:19:02 When Quinn and I were looking for a property, I was obsessed with Maine. Haven't even been to Maine. And I was like, this is where we need to go Maine in Vermont. I was like, this is where we're gonna go for something historic and renovate. And Quinn was just like, right. But like, how often are we actually gonna be able to use it? He's like, I looked it up and it was gonna be nine and a half hours of travel time because you can't fly into that part of Maine <laugh>. And so I completely, I am like so all about like, let's buy property in Maine. I think that that's amazing. Speaker 1 00:19:36 It is a location that is so fantastic. And it's just so rustic and rural still. And that, that element of having something that is natural and untouched is just wonderful. Speaker 0 00:19:50 One of the first impressions prospective clients have of your brand is your website. If you don't have a strong online presence to show off your work, though, you're losing out on potential clients. IDCO studio offers a selection of limited edition website templates designed specifically for interior designers, just like you. If you're looking for a more hands off experience, you can add on implementation and professional copywriting, and we'll have your new website up and running within a few shore weeks, visit to choose your favorite before it sells out. So you told us about that the design studio has a higher profit margin or is bringing in more profit than the properties when it comes to the stays themselves, those cottages. I think you alluded to it earlier, but in my mind, I think designers go into things and they're like, okay, this is a five year plan. We're gonna renovate it. We'll rent it out for a few years. And then at some point we, we sell it because we need to get that money back out. Mm-hmm <affirmative> from, from my years of following you selling it doesn't quite seem to be in the plan. Am I wrong? Or do you plan to flip those at any point or it they'll just keep expanding? Speaker 1 00:21:02 It depends on what new thing we find. So, you know, for us, the backbone has been about restoring properties that are historic. So people that are demolishing these absolutely stunning properties and building an, a brand new build that is you're using cheaper materials. You're, you know, doing it on using a design build firm that may not have the amount of years experience to make that house last for a hundred years, 200 years. That's what we wanna stop. We are trying to save these properties and that's how we started. Right? So flipping it and selling it has never really been a part of the process because we're trying to keep these houses useful. These houses used people in there using them, having the experiences in them and not having someone just decimate it, demolish it build a, you know, modern farm house that should be illegal right now. Speaker 1 00:22:02 You know, that is that's where our core values are. That being said, if you know, the, the ability to start up these rental properties and have them profitable so that if someone wants to purchase an already profitable, you know, rental home, we can absolutely execute that for them and sell the property to them. If that's what they're wanting to do, we have sold one in the past because there was an antique property that was destined for a demolish. And we were just like, absolutely not sold this one quite quickly and then turned over and, um, saved the, the new property that we're working on. So, you know, I think that is our core value. That is our backbone, but you know, that being said, we can absolutely sell it. And I think if someone is looking to buy something as a five year plan, renovate it, you know, use it for their experience, but also get that resale value out of it. Absolutely. Just make sure that you're pitching it and you're marketing it in the correct wheelhouse that you're marketing it to someone that, you know, sees the added value of you are turning a profit of 30 to $200,000 based on where you are, you know? Speaker 0 00:23:15 Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. That's super helpful insight because I think especially during the pandemic, obviously we are in a booming industry. People had maybe not more time as interior designers <laugh>, but they had more flexibility than usual. And it's been a good two years in our industry, despite the havoc it's weared on other industries. And so I just think the concept of these additional properties and flipping things is so, um, centered right now and people really feel it in their hearts is like a big dream. And this could be the chance that they have, especially as real estate just keeps going up and up. It's like kind of now or never Speaker 1 00:23:59 Yeah. Speaker 0 00:24:00 In your experience, how many seasons does it take for a property to become profitable? Speaker 1 00:24:08 That's that's a good question. It really depends on the property that you're purchasing, you're purchase price, how much you're pouring into the house, you know, what is your construction, um, um, investment, what is your furniture, investment and that sort of thing. So it really depends on that, but say you are purchasing a property for 150, $200,000, and then you're pouring another, say $300,000 into the renovation of it. And then you purchase another a hundred thousand dollars into furniture. You're all in for what did I say? 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, you're all in for $700,000. You have to make sure that you can then resell that property pretty much that year or that next year for that time, because your cost of running the property, your maintenance, how many people break things, they damage things, that sort of thing that really wears on everything. And then remember when you're gonna sell it, you need to do a refresh anyway, have new paint every year. You need to repaint that sort of thing. So, you know, we like to think that you have to sort of like be, um, even within that first year, but if it takes it to the second year, then that's fine. It's just, you gotta buy, right. You gotta buy, right. You gotta invest wisely. You have to not overextend yourself and overleverage yourself because this industry that we're in right now is not always going to be this way. Speaker 0 00:25:35 <affirmative> do, do you feel as new England being your market, do you feel like you are really like a three season market? Do you have people renting in the winter? What does that look like? Speaker 1 00:25:47 We are a four season market. Speaker 0 00:25:49 Okay. Speaker 1 00:25:50 So we are right on the water in a very one season, maybe two season, um, area. But this is the greatest thing about, you know, having a lot of work from home and remote working and everything like that is people I wanna get outta my space. So does everyone else? And I think the biggest thing is, is I wanna get outta my space to be inspired. I want to leave my home for somewhere better somewhere. That's going to inspire me both in the furnishings and outside. So, you know, if you can create that experience for people, they will come always. Speaker 0 00:26:28 Do you feel for the interior designers listening that historically speaking your guest stay guests mm-hmm <affirmative>. Does it ever lead you to clients in the design firm? Do you have people who stay with you who are like, now I want these people to be my designer. Can someone look at it also as a potential sales funnel? Or is it like different audiences? Speaker 1 00:26:53 Yeah, so initially when we started, we were lower budget projects and everything like that, which the guest stays absolutely 100 pushed clients over to it. We do have, um, maybe one project in the past, I dunno, four or five years. That was a very large scale project in DC that has come over from the cottages, but not really. Um, the design, our design firm is a luxury design firm. So sort of what we're doing for clients is at a much higher execution level than what we're doing for the cottages. The cottages are a way for us to stretch our design wings, try new, you know, um, elements of design, try something wacky and kooky that we could not be able to do in a guest, you know, in someone else's home. But it's our trial and aerospace. Speaker 0 00:27:46 Interesting. Yeah. Do you feel like those rental properties helped build your portfolio? Speaker 1 00:27:55 Oh yeah. I mean, I started, so I started designing homes when I was really young, but individually on my own really was when I was in college. Right. When I was at Parsons, I was like taking on people's apartments and stuff like that at that point of time. So, you know, the cottages sort of were an extension of that, where I was allowed to, you know, try new things. Did I push it too much? Not really. Um, but you know, it was absolutely something that helped build the portfolio in the, the right direction. Um, I guess that helped get projects, but they weren't the right projects for where we are. If that Speaker 0 00:28:40 Makes sense. Speaker 1 00:28:40 Yeah. I know that's like a chicken or the egg. What, what came first <laugh> Speaker 0 00:28:45 Do, knowing that, do you see any point in your future where there could be an arm or a branch of Morehouse that does specialize in helping people looking for properties more like your stays more on those budgets or is you guys are doing bigger, grander, more complete projects and an arm of that feels possibly like a step backwards. Speaker 1 00:29:12 Yeah. I don't know. We have a lot of things in the pipeline right now. Um, my goal since I started this firm was that we become an ad 100 firm. So that is the goal for where we're headed. And that is where my, you know, importance behind this business lies. So that being said, I don't want to divest a lot of our sort of like systems and processes and, you know, our team's time to working on that, that being said, we do have a lot of people reach out to us about that maybe in the future. But I think, you know, for us right now, like our design team is pretty centered and focused on what we're doing and then opening up our eCommerce. So we'll see, Speaker 0 00:29:56 I cannot wait for eCommerce. And I'm excited to talk to you about that too. Woo. Talk us through what you think the core differences between designing for a rental property and designing for someone's home are Speaker 1 00:30:07 Budget, budget, budget, budget, budget. <laugh> um, no. So, um, I think for designing for rental properties, you have to be, pardon me, super strategic about what you're putting into those properties, but how do you make it different, right. Instead of everyone else's rental property. So, you know, finding antiques, finding reclaimed pieces making, you're gonna have to like pour your own time, energy. Like I just saw you do on your lake house, you were installing the front doors, you were installing the siding, you're gonna have to put your, your, you know, backbone into it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so, you know, when you're designing these spaces, you have to think about, okay, how can I use maybe a budget tile, but how can I use that tile in an unconventional way? How can I use that tile in something that's weird or kooky that's, you know, out of the box. Right? The biggest thing that these people are coming to stay at is houses that feel innovative, feel weird, feel something different where they may not wanna do that in their own house, but like, they appreciate that. Right. So I think you're thinking about budget, but you're also thinking about creative ways of implementation. Um, yeah. So that's when, when you're designing, you know, um, guest cottages. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:31:24 Um, we talked a lot about durability and wearability and you just mentioned, you could use a budget tile in a creative and innovative way. Are there any other one or two examples of things where you could advise someone go ahead and go with a less expensive option in that a, because you're gonna have to replace it, whether you paid premium dollar for it, or it was a, or it was a savings or something that you think in a rental, it is totally okay for it to not be super high end and it'll work overall with the space. Speaker 1 00:31:56 Yeah. Um, I think if we're talking about like large elements of where your sofa's gonna get a lot of wear, your rug are gonna get a lot of wear, you know, we're huge, huge components over here at Morehouse design of vintage drugs. That's because someone can spill wine on it and it's gonna be fine where you have like a Burber, you have a, you know, a, you know, a alpaca rug and someone spills wine on it, and then they just leave it and you find it during the cleaning process. Woo. You're not gonna have a rug. And then you're out a couple of thousand dollars. So, you know, rugs are definitely somewhere that you either splurge and get a vintage rug, something with high pattern, something with high texture or, um, or you're the Ikea route and getting something that is just like, if someone spills on it, like we've had, and we've done an Ikea rug before you're throwing it out, they most likely will not pay you, especially if you're going on Airbnb or something like that. It always goes to the client. It doesn't go to the homeowner. So you're gonna have to throw that out, put something new back in. So you're just having, having to always think about, you know, that ratio there, you know, things where you can splurge hardware, always, always in forever good quality cabinets, um, you know, uh, like fixtures, you know, no one's really swinging from them. So you should be fine. Speaker 0 00:33:16 <laugh> hopefully, Speaker 1 00:33:17 Hopefully Speaker 0 00:33:21 What would you say are materials specific materials finishes or space plans that you would advise everyone to have on their must have list that someone who maybe hasn't designed for guests stays before, need to make sure and include in their design plan? Speaker 1 00:33:39 Um, that's a great question. You have to think about what experiences you're wanting to curate within that space are you, and then, you know, extend your vibe and yourself through that house. So if you listen to records, create a disco bar. You know, if you are someone who loves to read, really focus on beautiful books, that, and like a small vignette area, that it really invites someone to sit down, read that book, you know, take that time. The whole process that we're going into these guest days is so that we're out of our own comfort zone and we're experiencing someone else's zone of genius, right? Whether they're a reader or they love records and, you know, getting into that, Speaker 0 00:34:26 How concerned are you when you're considering pricing, like, like your, your nightly price with what the direct market is? I know a lot of designers are like, our place is so much cuter than the Airbnb down the street. Like it doesn't even compare when you're pricing your nightly rates. How, how much are you looking into that versus how much are you like it's apples and oranges. We're curating an incredible luxury experience. Speaker 1 00:34:55 You have to start somewhere. So, you know, when you're first starting, you have to get people in the door, you have to get people writing reviews. You have to get that experience. People want to know, like, you know, we have so many, five star reviews that are not just based on the house, but are based on the experience. You know, if there is something that goes wrong with the toilet, my mom is there at 1230 at night. Like, and that is what creates, you know, those five stars. You need that from the get go. So, you know, if you have to price yourself, um, accordingly, then price yourself accordingly, you will absolutely get to the stage where you will set your own prices. If you get those level of five star reviews, we've been doing this now for what, seven years, eight years. So, you know, actually it's longer than 2011. What is that? 12, 11 years. Ooh, geez. Speaker 0 00:35:50 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:35:50 Yeah. We've been doing this for since 2011. So, you know, it's been a very long time of us like getting those reviews. And so we can set our prices where we want our prices now and you know, they're booked out before we even, you know, blink our eyes. Speaker 0 00:36:07 If an interior designer could only take on handle, afford one short term rental property. Yep. Would you recommend it? Speaker 1 00:36:20 Ooh, that's a, that's a great question. Half of me would say absolutely spread your design wings, get involved, get excited. Hosting people can be the best experience and, and fulfilling feeling ever. And then the other half of me says, run for the Hills because you are, if you have already a busy design studio and you are a busy person, do it with a, um, a management company so that you are not that person that you know has to be called in at all hours of the night or fix the TV. Even though you've got very clear instructions for the TV, it doesn't matter. People want that hand touch nature doesn't mean doesn't matter if you have everything executable online, it's digital, you are gonna get people that in their sixties and seventies, that don't care that you've got everything there that want that feeling. And they're gonna write a one star review if you're not there. Speaker 1 00:37:27 So, you know, I think, you know, you have to think about that play. We always, so we have a couple of cottages that are not our own, that are, um, managed that we manage for other people that we've done the design of and that, you know, we now manage it for them because it's got the Morehouse vibe in it. Right. But the big they have one house, they can't hop in there at 1130 at night, you know, or, you know, bring them fresh goodies in the morning or fresh eggs. So you just have to think about how it works for you, Speaker 0 00:38:04 Correct me if I'm wrong. I believe you rent through your website only, and you're not listed other places. Is that true? Speaker 1 00:38:12 No, we are. We started out listening on HomeAway, exclusively or now V R B O. Um, and then we moved to Airbnb and um, then we moved to our own website two, three years ago. We pretty much exclusively book on our own website now, but we do have it available, um, on Airbnb and HomeAway. We're just very, um, picky about those that we choose from those, um, networks. Just because the clientele on Airbnb is worse than the clientele that is on HomeAway and Airbnb will, um, side with the consumer over the, you know, we've had, we, we got called by guests once that, um, someone, even though we're no parties are allowed, had a rag party, 50 people were there, their cops were called and the homeowners then went to the town and tried to file everything against us in doing so, which was a whole legal battle in a whole process. And do you need that? No, you don't. So, you know, we exclusively pretty much, um, vet our people that are staying in us, uh, staying in our cottages. Um, and it takes time. It takes energy, but it's well worth it. Speaker 0 00:39:28 Can you walk us through that process real quick player when someone goes to your website and they want to purchase, how, how, what is that gate that you have to like, then vet them, do they go ahead and pay you first, then you vet them and if they're not a fit, you return the money to them, or how do you make that sequence work? Speaker 1 00:39:48 Yeah. So if you go onto the website, um, our software that we use through Squarespace is lofi. So lofi is our software, uh, that we go through there. Um, and then we have, um, a system of things that you have to fill out. You have to sign a contract and everything like that. And then usually mom will probably give them a call and be like, Hey, how are you? Chat, blah, blah, blah, blah, find out how we can help you, what experiences we can do for you. And then, you know, if she thinks it's a bad fit, she'll, you know, say, sorry, I don't think this is the right fit. You know, cuz a lot of people will not read the fine print of that. There are no dogs or a lot of our cottages don't um, take children under the age of 11. Um, yeah. Speaker 0 00:40:34 So I know you've talked a lot about how your mom is the queen of experiences. And I know that booking with you, there are a lot of add-on options for, um, customizing your stay and making it just feel really, really special. Do you have one or two most popular package add-ons that you provide to people that you can recommend other people explore? Speaker 1 00:40:55 Yes. So, um, mom was a baker back in her day before she did this. So baked goods are kind of her wheelhouse. Um, so, and then we have a lot of amazing bakeries around where we are. So, um, our breakfast baskets are usually our most popular. Our beach picnic is pretty popular. Um, people will also like will set up a whole polo extravaganza where we take a lot of our like vintage furniture and set it up at the polo fields for them. And then they'll go and have this lunch at the polo and they don't have to wait in the lines stop. It's fun. Yeah. And then our chef's nights are always fun because you know, they're layered with florals and details and it's really about the experience about the food, about the, you know, that memory that we're creating for them is definitely very popular Speaker 0 00:41:44 Blair <laugh> while <laugh> you have been in the spotlight a lot lately for your stunning interior design studio, the Morehouse stays branch of the business has always fascinated me. Thank you for being so candid with your experience. We'll have Blair back in season two of the interior collective to dive into authenticity and design as she launches her eCommerce collection. In the meantime, you can book a We'll link Blair's episode of Magnolia. Network's point of view in the show notes, along with our recent interview with Blair on our blog, the identity collective, thank you so much for making the time to chat with us. I know you are extremely busy Blair. It's been such a pleasure to hear more about your brilliant business growth. And I can't wait to come stay at Morehouse and finally see new England in the fall. Speaker 2 00:42:38 Oh the fall. Woohoo. Well, we can't wait to welcome you. Speaker 0 00:42:42 Thank you so much for your time. I can't wait to chat more about eCommerce and get all the details as to how unique and bespoke that experience is going to be. Thank you so much and we'll chat soon. Speaker 2 00:42:53 Thanks DAS. Bye. Speaker 0 00:42:55 If you weren't able to write down everything you heard today, you can find all the links, projects, and images we referenced and other details from this episode of the interior collective on our website at Be sure to follow along on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletters. Stay up to date on what we're talking about next week. If you love our podcast, please leave us a review. If you have questions or topics you'd like to hear next, go ahead and email me at hi, the again. That is I, the

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