Setting up Shop

When you're setting up your home as an rental, you gotta keep in mind that people want to stay in an ideal version of your space.

First, declutter!  We got rid of all our extra furniture, most of our artwork, and every knick knack that was in sight.  Part of this was because we have a busy little toddler who likes to get into things, part because we felt that people coming to stay in our home would want to be able to relax and not worry about breaking things, but mostly because a simple house is easier to clean.  You might find you have a different philosophy on hosting, but I think that the more you can "stage" your home to look like an idea real estate listing, the more bookings you'll get.

Next, what about supplies? What do people need to feel comfortable in your house?

Here's my supplies list:

  • Beds: we have three queen mattresses and one full. These beds are covered in those amazing waterproof/everything proof covers.  You NEVER know what might happen, so it's best to prepare for the worst ;)
  • Sheets: we keep three sets of sheets per bed on hand just in case.
  • Towels: we keep two large bath towels, two hand towels, and two wash clothes per guest on hand. All from IKEA.
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap: I bought a few sets of shampoo/conditioner and a baby wash.  Also, to avoid waste, no bar soap here! We bought several containers of bodywash instead. That way, people don't feel gross using someone else's soap.
  • Fist aid/Other: I keep hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, band-aids, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, some razors, and toothpaste in the medicide cabinet.
  • Dishes/Glassware: since we can accomodate up to 8 people, we bought a service for 12 at IKEA. Same goes for glasses and coffee mugs.
  • Kitchen items: we left our toaster, rice-cooker, slow-cooker, blender, and then our can-opener, a whisk or two, slotted spoon, a set of knives, and the all-important bottle opener!
  • Television: cable isn't necessary, but how about a Chromecast and Netflix account?
  • Washing machine: It's really nice to be able to wash your clothes at a home if you're staying more than a few days. Our dryer broke, but we intend to replace that soon.
  • Internet: a must have!  Try Verizon FIOS for the best rates in Philly.
  • One side table and lamp per bed.

Cleaning and House Management supplies:

  • Cleaning Supplies: Lysol all purpose cleaner and bleach are vital. You not only need to clean, sometimes you need to disinfect. Bathrooms always need the full treatment, sheets and towels need to be bleached every few guests.
  • Toilet paper and paper towels: get LOTS.
  • Tissues: boxed tissues are one of those niceties that people appreciate. I got a box per room.
  • Rags
  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Vacuum cleaner: a simple stick vac does the job.
  • Lockboxes: I bought two standard lockboxes with a set of keys in each: one for the front door and one as a backup. I also provide a back-up back-up emergency key, but that comes at a cost.
  • Glass cleaner and a squeegee: I read somewhere that the single best thing you can do to stage your house is to clean the windows - more light comes in and the place looks cleaner.

I hope that helps all you potential hosts out there to get started. We've found through trial and error what we NEED and what doesn't really work. Home as a Business

When we started renting our house out through last year, I got a lot of "how do you feel about strangers staying in your home?" The answer is that you can look at it as "people are sleeping in my bed!!" or you can think "I get to provide a comfy home away from home for visitors and make a little money." As always, attitude is everything.

We are in a weird position at the moment because we're spending half the year in Philly and half in Florida.  This makes hosting through easier in one way because we have vast swathes of availability for bookings, but then, how do we manage the day-to-day of managing? We have an amazing house cleaner who helps us out with this vital aspect of running the place. She "turns over" (cleans and prepares) the house in between guests, is available in case of lost keys, helps us with letting repairmen in, and does all sorts of other little supply runs/returns of lost items to guests/etc. to keep our business running smoothly.

We've learned a lot about setting up this new type of business over the Summer.  The whole thing became like one long research project that I felt I could never get ahead of!  I'm a worrier, so when it comes to insurance and things like that, I would wake up in the middle of the night with questions like: "What if our house cleaner falls and injures herself?" "What if a guest does?" allows a really unique way to make extra income, but also presents a unique set of potential problems that most people wouldn't consider. I'm going to tackle a few of these in my upcoming series: Home as a Business.  Stay tuned!

Eleanor in "Illustrators 58"

We're very honored to announce that our "Bedtime Stories" series was accepted into the Society of Illustrator's exhibition for uncommissioned work. The show is open from January 6th until January 30th. If you'd like to attend the opening reception/awards gala on January 8th you can click here for more information.

Want to have an art exhibition of your own? The "Bedtime Stories" print series featuring The Little Mermaid, Goldilocks, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and Red Riding Hood is available in our shop.