San Francisco Bay Area — When you live in a 110-year-old house, you may soon learn that you need more space, especially if you have a growing family.
That’s what Flora and Jeffrey came to learn in 2015, even though they’d started thinking several years ago about building a shed in their backyard.
“We wanted more livable space,” Flora says. “We looked at prefab options because we wanted something easier … Our house is 110 years old and it’s a very small two-bedroom house. We have plans to renovate it by turning the basement into more living space, but that’s a more long-term plan. When we found out we were pregnant with our son, we knew we needed something faster.”
The couple’s son wasn’t the only family member who would soon need space in their home — Flora’s sister, Fauna, began to attend college in the area and, to save money, she was planning to live with the couple.
“Adding a shed in the backyard, it didn’t disrupt our house and we didn’t have to deal with major construction, which made it a lot easier for us at the time,” Flora recalls. “We put my sister in the shed so she could have her own space, so the baby wouldn’t bother her. The timing was perfect. She moved in, I had the baby, and she moved to the shed.”
Now, two years later, Fauna has moved out, but Flora and Jeffrey have stumbled upon an ideal scenario for their Modern-Shed.
Last month, they began renting the shed on AirBnB, and it’s proved to be a wildly successful venture.
“Originally, we didn’t know if it would be a bedroom or an office because my husband, a project manager for Google, sometimes works from home, but we did decide to furnish it as a guest room so my sister could say with us,” Flora says. “With her gone, I started renting it as an AirBnB. I have another AirBnB property. This has been really successful.”
Flora created the listing on a Saturday and by Monday she’d already had 12 people booked. Now, in October, she has guests rented out through March, and there’s hardly been a day that’s gone by without guests in her backyard.
“I’m booked every day for the next two weeks straight,” she says. “I think it’s mostly business travelers. They check in late, they drop their bags and they’re gone (for work) after they have a cup of coffee in the morning.”
Flora’s other rental property is an A-frame cabin in the woods, near the mountains. Her Modern-Shed guests differ greatly from the type of travelers she’s used to.
“Totally I was not expecting this many bookings,” she says. “These guests, they come every day, even during the week, they’re here for a day and gone. It’s convenient for me and them. We’re just outside the downtown core, close to the convention center, near offices downtown and the airport. We’ve taken advantage of our good location.”
When Fauna lived there, and when Flora and Jeffrey’s family comes to stay, the guests all enjoy the convenience of being close to the couple, but having their own privacy.
“My sister loved it, it was enough space for her to study and be away from our loud house, but also she’d come in everyday for dinner,” Flora says. “It was a good way for her to feel like a part of the family, but also a way for her to have her own space.”
The AirBnB Modern-Shed (which has been viewed more than 380 times in the last week and has only earned 5-star reviews) features a private bathroom.
Guests have nothing but rave reviews for the property, including this one:
“Flora’s guesthouse bungalow is far better than any hotel in the area! It’s comfortable, cozy, completely private and beautifully decorated! Everything you need and more and such an absolutely lovely succulent garden!! Flora was hospitable, friendly and very accommodating. I am very particular about where I stay and her place checked all my boxes and then some. Highly recommended!!”
Flora’s pieces of advice for prospective Modern-Shed owners are to be aware of where the plumbing is located in your own home, so that plumbers have an easy time hooking your plumbing to your shed’s plumbing, and be knowledgeable about the laws for accessory dwellings in your city or county.
“The bathroom is at the far end of the property, so our plumbers said we should have made it closer to the main house,” Flora recalls. “We’d already built the doors and windows how we’d wanted it, so oh well. Look into your laws because I think the laws for accessory structures have definitely changed in our neighborhood. Now, I think we could’ve built it with a kitchen, but that wasn’t an option at the time.”
The couple’s son is nearly 3, and they now have a 1-year-old daughter, so it’s nice to have a place for visiting family and friends to stay, as well, Flora adds.
“I don’t think we’ll turn it into a bedroom for our kids in awhile; it will be a guest space or AirBnB space for now,” she says. “I’m a stay-at-home mom and a full-time AirBnB host.”
Overall, they’ve been pleased with their investment.
“I am just extremely happy with it, it’s the focal point of the backyard,” Flora says. “It’s made us work to keep our backyard looking great, and it’s such a cool thing to have. Our house is a really old Victorian, but then you go outside and see this really modern structure. It’s a really cool juxtaposition.”