I’m a real estate investor, y’all!
I recently opened up my first Airbnb to some lovely guests like yourselves!
Normally, I talk about branding and helping people build their brands, but today we’re doing things a little differently. Instead, I’m giving you an inside look behind my brand and a new business venture I’ve taken on with my partner: our first Airbnb, Glimmer 29.
In this blog, I’m sharing:
- Why this was such an awesome investment in my financial future
- How I created the brand and vision for the property
- A behind the scenes look at the reno
- The big reveal!
The Background AKA Why A Desert Airbnb
I have wanted to get into real estate for a long time. I worked around the industry for about 13 or 14 years. In that time, I’ve learned how important it is, how much money you can make, just how valuable overall it is to invest in real estate. And I don’t know if I was scared or if the timing never felt right, but it took me forever to finally do something with that information!
My partner and I are huge HGTV fanatics; we watch it every single day. The amount of time we spend looking at homes on Zillow or Redfin is wild. We had this goal to buy a home for ourselves, but doing so in LA is ROUGH. We could do it, but we don’t want to be house poor — that’s just not worth it. So finally, we decided maybe it just didn’t make sense for us right now.
So as this was going on, one of my really close friends, Lyric Everly, had done exactly what we were doing. In the middle of the pandemic, they bought a house in the desert to live in part-time and Airbnb the rest of the time. It was this really beautiful, creative space filled with good energy, and I thought to myself… maybe we could do something like that. We could do something that would make us money instead of burn through it all. And it would be fun! This could be a space for us to put all of our DIY obsessions to the test (and lord, did it really do that).
Another part of this interest was wanting to have a more passive income stream. Creating one passive income revenue stream was already a goal I had set for myself for this year. But uh, let’s not fool ourselves. This shit is not passive. We have put in so much work. But, eventually, it will be pretty steady and will somewhat run itself. Of course, there will always be maintenance and ongoing communication, but with time comes far less heavy lifting — we hope.
In addition, I had been rethinking how I want to build my life and build my business to support it. I had wanted more time, maybe for travel or maybe even kids; certainly for leisure and just not feeling like I am or have to be working all the time to be valuable or “productive” (more on those thoughts to come as it’s a big theme in my life right now), and just wanting to have more freedom. I think this investment is a tool that will help us get there.
Design IRL, Baby!
I love branding. I love what I do, but most of what I create with brand design just lives online. I don’t often get to create things I can touch or spaces people can experience, and that’s something that really, really resonated with me. I’d been yearning for that opportunity for a really long time. And it just worked out perfectly because as much as I love brands, I don’t really spend a lot of money on stuff. The one thing that really gets me is hotels. I love to travel, and I will spend money on a nice hotel, which changes my whole experience. It’s the details, feeling taking care of. They’re part of how you envision the trip before you go, the memories, and the afterglow; the spaces you stay in are such a huge part of the trip. So, it actually makes perfect sense that I would have some type of project in hospitality.
How You Can Make Money in Real Estate
Remember how I said I was looking for passive income? Well, let’s take a deeper look into the financial aspect of this whole thing. Because you know I’m all about my money and helping you get more money!
So, real estate can make you money in four different ways. (Eventually, we’ll get to take advantage of all of them with this property!)
#1 Capital Appreciation
This is the idea that you buy a home for a specific price, and it goes up in value over time. You can also force that appreciation or that increase in value by fixing it up and doing nice things that add to the home’s value. While we’re not quite sure if we’ve done that yet, we definitely think we have with the improvements we’ve made. If we sell our home in the future – and assuming nothing crazy happen – we will have appreciated the value and made money that way.
#2 Principal Paydown
This is the idea that every month if you pay your mortgage, you gain more in equity. This is an asset that you own more of. So unlike paying rent, where it just goes into the void, and you don’t see that shit ever again, every mortgage payment you make increases value for you and your net worth. That’s key.
Because this will be a short-term rental property, we will get income each month from the guests who stay there through Airbnb.
#4 Tax Benefits
There are a whole bunch of tax benefits to owning real estate, whether that is “depreciation of the asset,” which is something you can write off, or a bunch of business expenses if you operate it as a business.
How We Got Our House
We were interested in the 29 Palms area in the Mojave Desert of California and had a price range of around $150-$250,000. We could get financing for a second home mortgage through our renter as we were keeping our apartment in LA. The requirements were 10% down and spending a lot of time there as it is our second home. There are limitations to how much you can rent it out with this type of mortgage, which is good to know if this is something you’re looking into.
As we got through the escrow process, we got the property appraised, and it appraised for lower than our actual value. So, we ended up negotiating with the seller. Our fucking amazing Real Estate Agent, Jane Marie, got us a deal, but we did have to end up putting down a bit more cash, a little beyond the down payment and closing costs.
It was all so crazy because it’s a super hot market right now. Cash offers and properties were flying off the market. We were actually the first offer on the house we got and gave them their asking price (a little less thanks to that appraisal negotiation), which is unheard of these days. We got really lucky.
We set aside around $15,000 as our budget to invest back into the house: fixes, furniture, all the things you need in a home. I know it sounds like a significant amount of money, and it is… We’ve been saving for this for a really long time, and it’s not something we went into lightly. We think and hope it will be a good investment for our future.
The Fun Stuff – Design and Decor
Let’s talk the branding, art direction, creative vision, all the fun stuff. So there are some incredible, super gorgeous boutique hotels in the Joshua Tree/High-Desert area. While they’re lovely, they generally have a very specific bohemian western-inspired aesthetic, and that’s just so not me. I wanted to do something more authentic to my style.
The first thing I asked my partner was, “What do you want people to feel or think when they walk into this space?” And we both decided on “cool.” Of course, we also wanted it to be calm and relaxing, but we wanted it to feel really different from somewhere someone lives; we wanted it to be cool and unique.
I took a lot of notes and did A LOT of brainstorming on the vibe I wanted. I wanted it to be introspective, calm, and serene but also whimsical, fun, and magical – all these things I envisioned someone experiencing when they come to the desert. If you haven’t been to the CA high-desert, it’s a really, really, really beautiful and calming place. There’s incredible light, sunrises and sunrises, and the sky feels so huge. That light really inspired me, and it’s what prompted the whole brand concept.
When I travel, I always get a lot of clarity about myself. I get inspired, or I find perspective. This idea that the more we explore, the more clearly we see ourselves started to form. That prompted this concept of catching a glimpse – a glimmer – of yourself, even when you’re on vacation. And so, this idea of glimpses of light, of sparkle, of dancing light, all of these things became central to the concept for the brand identity and for the house itself.
The Colors and Aesthetic
I created this mood board by just pulling in things that spoke to me: elements of the desert that are very muted, more traditional, some rough-textured stucco juxtaposed with disco balls and prisms and gleaming glamorous light. There’s this big contrast between the rough and the natural, lux and the glamorous, which I love. From a color palette standpoint, I wanted to go a little different than those kinds of pastel oranges, sages, and pinks that you really see in the desert all the time. We have some of that too, but I also incorporated deeper reds and greens as the green is one of my favorite colors, and I was super drawn to the rusty red/ orange in the butterfly.
This concept also inspired the name: Glimmer 29. The name glimmer came from this idea of a glimmer of light, um, or glimpse of light or that little flicker. Gleam, Glint, oh my God, we had so many names, and that’s the one that we finally landed on that sounded right, had a little rhythm to it, and was available.
The logo was totally inspired by this awesome picture I found of old silver spurs from cowboy boots. They were like shiny and metallic and looked like this big starburst – it was exactly what I wanted.
I knew that I wanted some slightly Western-inspired type, but a more modernized version of it. So I looked through a bunch of options and found this kind of elevated type. I put it on a curve to make it a little whimsical and even added little some spurs to the type.
Then I created a super fun monogram just to use as an accent and for things like profile icons. Then I built out some patterns using my version of that starburst from the spurs.
The color palette, as I mentioned, is pulled straight from the mood board, so we’ve got that deep green, the rusty red/orange, and then lots of softer metallic tones like rose gold, gold, and silver.
Let’s talk renovation! Our house is a 600 square foot one-bedroom on two and half acres. While the place had already been remodled and was in pretty good shape, it wasn’t cool. It was a very generic rental property and not our style. So, we had a big to-do list of things we wanted to fix or enhance and ideas for creative projects to get it where we wanted it to be for an Airbnb.
We did most of it ourselves with a lot of support, gifts and contributions from friends and family. My family is actually in the construction business, so they helped oout with some of the actual projects as well. This shit was really hard, but we learned a lot.
Here are some of the things we did (it’s a doozy):
- Improved the roof
- Refinished the bathtub and shower
- Replaced all the light fixtures
- Installed recess lighting and these super cool spiral lights (lighting is all thanks to my electrician brother, Evan!)
- Plastered all of the interior walls with this rustic, adobe-feeling stucco look (done by my incredible plaster contractor Stepdad)
- Add exterior trims to the doors and windows
- Painted literally every single surface inside and outside, including a hand-painted terrazzo pattern in our color palette for the bathroom. (That was actually super fun and one of the first projects that showed us how cool this was going to be. It’s been everyone’s favorite room so far!)
- Replaced the front door (which was a nightmare – NEVER doing that again)
- Replaced all the locks and door hardware
- Installed a security system, alarms, floodlighting, cameras, and smart locks – the whole shebang so it feels really safe
- Installed turf in the backyard
- Added a dining table and string lights to make a beautiful, glowly outdoor dining area
- Installed curtains, blinds, and shelving
- Added a fire pit
- Made really cool DIY cinder block benches
- Landscaping with new plants
- Added solar lights outdoors
- Filled up the house with furniture and decor, including some more DIYs
- We painted a mural on the back of the house
- Filled up the house with furniture and decor, including some more DIYs
- We painted a mural on the back of the house
I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but that’s all the big stuff! And that’s not including the admin stuff, like getting our business set-up, our accounting, filing our permits, setting up our Airbnb, insurance, all of that other stuff that had to be going on behind the scenes. A whole bunch of work that had to happen at the same time. All of this took us about two months from the day we got the keys to the day we listed it. This is all while I’m running a business, and my partner has a big, important full-time job and is getting his doctorate and trying to be there for friends and family. And, you know, also keep some sanity. So it’s been really hard. It was so much tougher than we ever thought but also so much more rewarding! We had a ton of fun and learned so much. It was so fulfilling and such an adventure.
But it’s done! We’re so, so proud, and we’re ready for y’all to come stay!
This is just phase one. We’re going to implement more changes, new features, and amenities in the home to just get it even cooler, more desirable, and make it an even better experience for our guests to come to chill out, check out from the city and just relax. Like I said, it’s so beautiful and surrounded by such incredible views. We’re going to keep making it better and better. Hopefully, this is the first of many for us! We’re so thrilled that we took this scary leap and did all this hard work, and here’s hoping it pays off!
If you want to come visit Glimmer 29, we would love to have you! You can book your trip with this link through Airbnb! Follow our adventures on Instagram at @theglimmer29 and check out our website for more info, pictures, and even some merch coming soon!
I hope you enjoyed our story. It’s been really fun, and I’m so stoked to share it with you guys!
Until next time, stay badass!
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