We’re welcoming interior designer and luxury hospitality maven, Blair Moore of Moore House Design, to discuss diversifying your revenue streams as a designer with high-end short term rental properties.
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.
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
An excerpt of my conversation with Blair Moore:
Let's talk business models. 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, from a very basic level that you only book through your site.
Blair: It's focused around three different attributes where it's inspiration, service, and memory, right? So the core principle of Moore House Stays is really 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 makes it feel like a family is looking after them? And then what is that memory the space then invokes for the people coming back? And so those three elements have formulated sort of Moore House Stays and how Moore House Design and Moore House Stays sort of congruently work together.
"For us, the backbone has been about restoring properties that are historic."
- Blair Moore
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 properties, and then, in your case, to a few handfuls?
Blair: So, we are not the type of people that grew up with a ton of money. We just all worked our way up and worked and saved our little pennies. So I think that is just something from the get go, we weren't handed a savings account, we built it. We have built everything pretty much on the backbone of profit. We've not really taken any investors or anything like that nor do I think we ever will. There's enough problems within the family to run things, adding another investor in, I think will just be too much for them to handle. So that being said, the design team is definitely our bread and butter. Like our largest margins, our largest profit share is the design team.
The guest stays team absolutely does run a profit. And then you just have to structure it in a way that you're purchasing properties that are not a million dollars of property. You're purchasing properties that are in up-and-coming neighborhoods.
From my years of following you, selling properties doesn't quite seem to be in the plan. Am I wrong? Or do you plan to flip those at any point or they'll just keep expanding?
Blair: It depends on what new thing we find. So, for us, the backbone has been about restoring properties that are historic. So people that are demolishing these absolutely stunning properties and building a brand new build that is using cheaper materials. You're 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. Not having someone just decimate it, demolish it, build a modern farmhouse - that should be illegal right now. That is where our core values are.
Mentioned in the episode:
Thanks for reading an excerpt of The Interior Collective Season 1, Episode 9: Creating Boutique Rental Revenue With Authenticity featuring Blair Moore. You can listen to our episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or access the full episode transcription below. You can follow Blair on Instagram and visit her portfolio of work at Moore House Design.
Design by Moore House Design
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Anastasia Casey 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 Moore from Moore House Design and Moore House 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 e-commerce line, and 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 Moore House design.
Anastasia Casey 00:01:03 and co-founder of Moore House Stays. Blair comes to her projects with an out of the box creativity and staying true to the original character of a space. Moore House is a family effort with a 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 Moore House and Moore House Design during her time off. If you can even consider it time off. Officially launching Moore House 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 face time with you since we were together in Austin for Design Camp. Two, three years ago, it was definitely a pre COVID Design Camp.
Blair Moore 00:02:15 It was like right at the precipice of COVID. I think it was like the month before COVID started, like February.
Anastasia Casey 00:02:22 I think you're right. <laugh>
Blair Moore 00:02:24 I think I've been living off that moment of us all being together for what feels like forever.
Anastasia Casey 00:02:31 Well, it's just so sweet. My heart is so full. 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 how much further you all took it. I knew we would all be friends, but I think you all like literally text every day,
Blair Moore 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.
Anastasia Casey 00:03:12 I didn't know the wedding was on the schedule. I am so excited to hear that it is officially planned and that is so fun. You're gonna have to get a Design Camp group photo for me and Lindsay.
Blair Moore 00:03:23 Oh my gosh. A hundred percent. I mean, small plug free you, but Design Camp was just such an amazing element of just getting like-minded people together. Just 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.
Anastasia Casey 00:03:56 <laugh> Thank you. That's so, so, so sweet. I feel that way about every camp, but it's just so cool to see like our original, very first OG camp is still doing it. That is so fun.
Blair Moore 00:04:06 I know you're collecting some pretty cool people that's for sure.
Anastasia Casey 00:04:10 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 giving souls and just hold them in my pocket forever.
Blair Moore 00:04:22 I love that. I think that's perfect.
Anastasia Casey 00:04:25 So Blair, will you give us a little bit of an intro? Let's start with the two core businesses, cause I do know there's more business coming up later this year, but let's start with what's going on right now?
Blair Moore 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, receiving warehouse, a design firm that handles projects. We're handling I think 28 projects right now, all over the country. A very, very cool one is happening in Telluride and California that everyone's gonna find out about soon. So yeah, that's our main focus is the design team. For the design side of the business, we build most of our own furniture, with a sustainable sort of background. So, 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 stay side. So our guest stay side essentially is a way that our design team was able to sort of stretch our wings.
Blair Moore 00:05:35 We are a family focused business, but we have a lot of team members that are not family that have become family. 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. 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 wearable, that it can get brutally beaten up consistently. You know, it's just a lifeline of another section of what we do here and we love it.
Anastasia Casey 00:06:13 So for those listening who do not already follow Moore House Stays, tell me about the general vibe/plan. They're in New England, mostly Rhode Island, is that correct?
Blair Moore 00:06:25 Correct.
Anastasia Casey 00:06:25 And they are the most beautiful, rehabed, historic spaces. Tell us a little bit about that.
Blair Moore 00:06:32 Yeah, so essentially, 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. Then we have a hotel opening up there as well. So, how we started essentially was, I have been renovating with my parents since I was two. I think <laugh>, 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, that didn't work. I mean, I loved it, loved it very much, but the interior design, restoration, and historic homes has been in my blood. Like I get giddy when we look at a new historic home. 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.
Blair Moore 00:07:32 And so, essentially when we moved back from Australia, I was about 21 years old and headed into the city to go to Parsons. Then mom and dad had purchased a little cottage that was there and they were always flipping houses, right.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, I grew up that way and I think that ability where 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, zero waste, that sort of thing.
Blair Moore 00:08:30 So, you know, fast forward Parsons finished, I am working a job at Ralph, Calvin, Bottega Veneta and mom had opened up 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 like crazy. But, yeah 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, she's the hostess with the mostess. That's just always been her. How can she create some experience for someone that's coming to stay over at our house. Same thing happened in Australia. I was working at Ralph at that point of time and I started working on the side of being like, okay, well, how can we utilize this?
Blair Moore 00:09:37 How can we procure more properties, make it profitable? Extending that into 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 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, 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 wanna carry that on. So Moore House Stays was born, I guess <laugh>
Anastasia Casey 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 want to 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 short term stays.
Blair Moore 00:11:01 Yeah. There's so many avenues of this that you could even go down as well.
Anastasia Casey 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, from a very basic level that you only book through your site. It's not something that's on Airbnb, to the actual experience of staying there. How is it different than a usual short term rental?
Blair Moore 00:11:34 Yeah. So the number one thing for me, it's focused around three different attributes where it's inspiration, service, and memory, right? So the core principle of Moore House Stays is really 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 makes it feel like a family is looking after them? And then what is that memory the space then invokes for the people coming back? And so those three elements, you know, together, they have formulated sort of Moore House Stays and how Moore House Design and Moore House Stays sort of congruently work together. So, you know, did I answer your question there? I went on a tangent.
Anastasia Casey 00:12:29 Yeah. I love that tangent. Going back when I say that Blair's team is a family team, both biologically, as well as those who have come to her. 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? Because that is a very tricky line.
Blair Moore 00:12:59 Yeah. A very sticky subject. No, okay. So I have a business degree first before I went to Parsons. So naturally I think as the eldest in the family and more 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, 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. 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 really sits in that zone really, really well. My dad's always renovating, always fixing, is a fixer, right. Very inspirational, crazy, kooky Australian man. If you watched the TV show, you got a minute glimpse of it.
Anastasia Casey 00:14:06 <laugh>
Blair Moore 00:14:07 But he is the one that's sort of the backbone at sort of what that structural to structural engineering and everything around the cottages. My skill set is design, always been designed, always been sort of what is the details? How can we make that cohesive? How does that then extend into the guest experience? And I sort of holistically see the entire process, but also filter it through each person. My sister Bromley, absolutely incredible at systems. Like she is sort of the backend of the system, she sees the design, she sees the system, she sees the marketing aspects. She sees the execution, the back end, all of that. So that's really her wheelhouse that she sits in and my brother's still younger. He's going to architecture school, but he likes to help in and out when he's up from SCAD.
Blair Moore 00:15:03 So I think that's like the family side. And then we filled in the blanks with our team. If we're gonna talk about a larger holistic side of the guest stays team we have on our design team seven, and on our guest days team we have 14, right? So that is stylist, stagers, cleaners, maintenance men, the whole marketing side, online execution. Then our design team is project management, design, online, Instagram, e-commerce, that sort of thing. So I think we all sort of work together, but there's definitely a hierarchy in what everyone's zone of genius is and let them sit in that zone of genius.
Anastasia Casey 00:15:59 So I think the question that a lot of people are wondering is, how does one, I can wrap my head around buying one property but then it's, how does that 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>
Blair Moore 00:16:34 <laugh> So, we are not the type of people that grew up with a ton of money. We just all worked our way up and worked and saved our little pennies. So I think that is just something from the get go, we weren't handed a savings account, we built it. We have built everything pretty much on the backbone of profit. We've not really taken any investors or anything like that nor do I think we ever will. There's enough, <laugh> there's enough problems within the family to run things, adding another investor in, I think will just be too much for them to handle. So that being said, the design team is definitely our bread and butter. Like our largest margins, our largest profit share is the design team.
Blair Moore 00:17:28 The guest stays team absolutely does run a profit. And then you just have to structure it in a way that you're purchasing properties that are not a million dollars of property. You're purchasing properties that are in upcoming neighborhoods, 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 is his stroke of genius is that. They were purchasing properties for a hundred, $130,000, and then pouring their time, their energy and their labor into it that luckily now were worth 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, 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, but there are still those areas that are diamonds in the rough. And I think for us, that's where we started and 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.
Anastasia Casey 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 and 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 am all about, let's buy property in Maine. I think that that's amazing.
Blair Moore 00:19:36 It is a location that is so fantastic. And it's just so rustic and rural still. And that element of having something that is natural and untouched is just wonderful.
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Anastasia Casey 00:20:22 So you told us 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 sell it because we need to get that money back out. 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 they'll just keep expanding?
Blair Moore 00:21:02 It depends on what new thing we find. So, for us, the backbone has been about restoring properties that are historic. So people that are demolishing these absolutely stunning properties and building a brand new build that is using cheaper materials. You're 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 modern farmhouse that should be illegal right now.
Blair Moore 00:22:02 That is where our core values are. That being said, if the ability to start up these rental properties and have them profitable so that if someone wants to purchase an already profitable, 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 saved the new property that we're working on. So, I think that is our core value. That is our backbone, but yhat being said, we can absolutely sell it. And I think if someone is looking to buy something as a five year plan, renovate it, 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 sees the added value of you turning a profit of 30 to $200,000 based on where you are.
Anastasia Casey 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 centered right now and people really feel it in their hearts is 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
Blair Moore 00:23:59 Yeah.
Anastasia Casey 00:24:00 In your experience, how many seasons does it take for a property to become profitable?
Blair Moore 00:24:08 That's a good question. It really depends on the property that you're purchasing, your purchase price, how much you're pouring into the house, what is your construction, investment, what is your furniture investment and that sort of thing. So it really depends on that. 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. So we like to think that you have to sort of be 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 invest wisely. You have to not overextend yourself and over leverage yourself because this industry that we're in right now is not always going to be this way.
Anastasia Casey 00:25:35 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?
Blair Moore 00:25:47 We are a four season market.
Anastasia Casey 00:25:49 Okay.
Blair Moore 00:25:50 So we are right on the water in a very one season, maybe two season area. But this is the greatest thing about having a lot of work from home and remote working and everything like that. I wanna get outta my space. So does everyone else. And I think the biggest thing 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, if you can create that experience for people, they will come, always.
Anastasia Casey 00:26:28 Do guest stays 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?
Blair Moore 00:26:53 Yeah, 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, maybe one project in the past, I do not know, four or five years. That was a very large scale project in DC that has come over from the cottages, but not really. 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 elements of design, try something wacky and kooky that we could not be able to do in someone else's home. But it's our trial and error space.
Anastasia Casey 00:27:46 Interesting. Do you feel like those rental properties helped build your portfolio?
Blair Moore 00:27:55 Oh yeah. 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 taking on people's apartments and stuff like that at that point of time. So, the cottages sort of were an extension of that, where I was allowed to try new things. Did I push it too much? Not really. But it was absolutely something that helped build the portfolio in the right direction. I guess that helped get projects, but they weren't the right projects for where we are. If that makes sense.
Blair Moore 00:28:40 I know that's like a chicken or the egg. What came first <laugh>
Anastasia Casey 00:28:45 Knowing that, do you see any point in your future where there could be an arm or a branch of Moore House that does specialize in helping people looking for properties more like your stays? More on those budgets or what you guys are doing is bigger, grander, more complete projects and an arm of that feels possibly like a step backwards?
Blair Moore 00:29:12 Yeah. I don't know. We have a lot of things in the pipeline right now. 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 importance behind this business lies. So that being said, I don't want to divest a lot of our sort of systems and processes and 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, our design team is pretty centered and focused on what we're doing and then opening up our e-commerce. So we'll see.
Anastasia Casey 00:29:56 I cannot wait for e-commerce. And I'm excited to talk to you about that too. Talk us through what you think the core differences between designing for a rental property and designing for someone's home are
Blair Moor 00:30:07 Budget, budget, budget, budget, budget. <laugh>. So, I think for designing for rental properties, you have to be super strategic about what you're putting into those properties. How do you make it different, right? Instead of everyone else's rental property. So, finding antiques, finding reclaimed pieces, you're gonna have to 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 backbone into it. So, 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 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 they appreciate that. Right. So I think you're thinking about budget, but you're also thinking about creative ways of implementation. Yeah. So that's when you're designing guest cottages.
Anastasia Casey 00:31:24 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 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 is totally okay for it to not be super high end and it'll work overall with the space.
Blair Moore 00:31:56 Yeah. I think if we're talking about large elements of wear, your sofa's gonna get a lot of wear, your rugs are gonna get a lot of wear. We're huge, huge components over here at Moore House Design of vintage rugs. That's because someone can spill wine on it and it's gonna be fine where you have like a berber, you have an 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, rugs are definitely somewhere that you either splurge and get a vintage rug, something with high pattern, something with high texture. Or going the Ikea route and getting something that is just like, if someone spills on it, like we've had. We've done an Ikea rug before, and 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 to always think about that ratio there. Things where you can splurge hardware, always, always in forever, good quality cabinets, light fixtures, no one's really swinging from them. So you should be fine.
Anastasia Casey 00:33:16 <laugh> hopefully,
Blair Moore 00:33:17 Hopefully
Anastasia Casey 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 it in their design plan?
Blair Moore 00:33:39 That's a great question. You have to think about what experiences you're wanting to curate within that space. Then extend your vibe and yourself through that house. So if you listen to records, create a disco bar. If you are someone who loves to read, really focus on beautiful books, and a small vignette area, that it really invites someone to sit down, read that book, 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.
Anastasia Casey 00:34:26 How concerned are you when you're considering pricing, like 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 much are you looking into that versus how much are you like it's apples and oranges. We're curating an incredible luxury experience.
Blair Moore 00:34:55 You have to start somewhere. So, 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 we have so many, five star reviews that are not just based on the house, but are based on the experience. If there is something that goes wrong with the toilet, my mom is there at 12:30 at night. Like that is what creates those five stars. You need that from the get go. So, if you have to price yourself 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, actually it's longer than 2011. What is that? 12, 11 years. Ooh, geez.
Anastasia Casey 00:35:50 Yeah.
Blair Moore 00:35:50 Yeah. We've been doing this since 2011. So, you know, it's been a very long time of us 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 blink our eyes.
Anastasia Casey 00:36:07 If an interior designer could only take on, handle, afford one short term rental property. Would you recommend it?
Blair Moore 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 fulfilling feeling ever. And then the other half of me says, run for the hills. If you already have a busy design studio and you are a busy person, do it with a management company so that you are not that person that 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 matter if you have everything executable online, it's digital, you are gonna get people in their sixties and seventies, who 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.
Blair Moore 00:37:27 So, I think you have to think about that play. We have a couple of cottages that are not our own. We manage for other people that we've done the design of and that, we now manage it for them because it's got the Moore House vibe in it. Right. But they have one house, they can't hop in there at 11:30 at night, or bring them fresh goodies in the morning or fresh eggs. So you just have to think about how it works for you.
Anastasia Casey 00:38:04 Correct me if I'm wrong. I believe you rent through your website only, and you're not listed in other places. Is that true?
Speaker 1 00:38:12 No, we are. We started out listing on Home Away exclusively. Or now VRBO. Then we moved to Airbnb and 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 on Airbnb and Home Away. We're just very picky about those that we choose from on those networks. Just because the clientele on Airbnb is worse than the clientele that is on Home Away. Airbnb will side with the consumer. We got called by guests once that, someone, even though no parties are allowed, had a rager party. 50 people were there, the 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 we exclusively pretty much vet our people that are staying in our cottages. And it takes time. It takes energy, but it's well worth it.
Anastasia Casey 00:39:28 Can you walk us through that process real quick Blair, when someone goes to your website and they want to purchase, what is that gate that you have to 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?
Blair Moore 00:39:48 Yeah. So if you go onto the website, our software that we use through Squarespace is Lodgify. So Lodgify is our software that we go through there. Then we have 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, if she thinks it's a bad fit, she'll say sorry, I don't think this is the right fit. You know, because a lot of people will not read the fine print of that. There are no dogs or a lot of our cottages don't take children under the age of 11. yeah.
Anastasia Casey 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 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?
Blair Moore 00:40:55 Yes. So, mom was a baker back in her day before she did this. So baked goods are kind of her wheelhouse. We have a lot of amazing bakeries around where we are. Our breakfast baskets are usually our most popular. Our beach picnic is pretty popular. People will also 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.
Anastasia Casey 00:41:27 stop
Blair Moore 00:41:28 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 that memory that we're creating for them is definitely very popular.
Anastasia Casey 00:41:44 Blair <laugh> while <laugh> you have been in the spotlight a lot lately for your stunning interior design studio, the Moore House 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 e-commerce collection. In the meantime, you can book a stay at Moore House by visiting moorehousefamily.com and inquire to work together at moorehousedesign.com. 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 Identite 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 Moore House and finally see New England in the fall.
Blair Moore 00:42:38 Oh the fall. Woohoo. Well, we can't wait to welcome you.
Anastasia Casey 00:42:42 Thank you so much for your time. I can't wait to chat more about e-commerce 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.
Blair Moore 00:42:53 Thanks Stass. Bye.
Anastasia Casey 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 idco.studio/podcast. 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 email@example.com again, that is firstname.lastname@example.org