In Refinery29’s Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial women. In today’s episode, 29-year-old Ashley and 32-year-old Brett Nobles take us through their airy downtown Los Angeles home.
When it comes to moving, any extra cash always helps. So when a property manager told wife-and-husband team Ashley and Brett Nobles about a tenant who rented out his pad for photo shoots, they were intrigued. “We were honestly blown away by that,” Ashley tells Refinery29. “We were like, ‘What? He goes to work, he comes home, and he made $500 bucks while he was at work? That’s amazing.”
It was perfect timing, as the couple just started looking at a sunny loft in downtown Los Angeles that was perfect (a rare Craigslist gem), but just a little over their budget, with a month overlapping their old lease. So to make ends meet, the couple turned to Peerspace to rent out the apartment for day-time gigs like photo shoots. Brett, the accountant, crunched some numbers. Ashley, the marketing genius, got to work with decor, art, and photos.
“There wasn’t a broker’s fee or anything, so we just had to pay the security deposit and first month’s rent, so $5,500 total since the rent was $2,750 at the time,” Brett says. “And getting the furniture and decor, it was probably $3,500. I was looking at the budget, seeing what we had to work with, and was like, you can make it work, but we’re not going over that number. And we made it work. It was crazy. ” In total, the couple spent $8,500 for their first Peerspace-slash-home, and they earned it back in some three months. It’s been three years, and they’ve both quit their daytime jobs to manage event space rentals full-time.
Were you both always into interior design, or did it come about when you started with Peerspace?
Brett: Ashley definitely always wants the place to look beautiful, but she convinced me to put a little more effort and money into this apartment to make this place more beautiful, specifically because we had to make the money back, since we had a month overlap in our leases. So I thought, yeah this makes sense, this can be a separate income for us, so let’s invest and bet on doing that. But we were on a shoestring budget.
Ashley: Every single thing in our apartment is from Craigslist, even the custom dining table is made by a local artisan we found on Craigslist. We definitely like nice things; we just had to have champagne taste on a beer budget.
Can you talk a little about your Craigslist tips and tricks?
Ashley: It’s tough to break down in a single answer, but I would say, definitely, first of all, it takes practice, like anything else. It’s knowing the right keywords to search for, and being consistent. You just have to keep looking and you have to stay on it. You’ve also got to be an airtight negotiator who has brass balls and know how to haggle things down. And then, you have to have good intuition, know what’s actually a really good deal and what’s a potential scam. Fortunately, I’ve never had any scares.
Another big tip is always, especially if you live in big markets like San Francisco, L.A., Chicago, New York, you’ve got people that have money, and a lot of times when they have to move, they have to sell everything. So do searches like “everything must go” or “moving sale.” Sometimes you can come up on some really good bargains or really nice stuff that they’d otherwise have to trash if they don’t sell it.
How has having your space be a rental affect your daily lives?
Brett: It definitely changed our daily life for two reasons. Number one, we do have to keep this very clean, so we’re always constantly clean. We’re either cleaning for a scout, because there’s people coming to check out the place to see if they want to book it, or we’re cleaning it for an actual booking. But the good thing is that we made so much money from Peerspace that it’s turned into our full-time business. So we look at cleaning as just part of business.
Ashley: We also designed it with bookings in mind. Because we want to be available to as broad of a demographic, we didn’t want to go too modern or too traditional. Luckily, it’s in line with what we like, but I tried to keep it fresh. So we’re always refreshing; we might replace a chair here, or add a lamp here, just to keep it fresh and on-brand so as many brands as possible will want to come in and shoot.
Where do you look for inspiration, then, if you’re constantly looking for new ideas?
Ashley: I’d say 40 percent of my Instagram is all interior design pages. I follow Architectural Digest, Designmilk, local interior designers like Emily Henderson, Homepolish. Also CB2 and West Elm are just good to see what’s on-trend this season. And sometimes I just fall down a rabbit hole on Instagram or Pinterest, following one and then getting 12 suggestions for related ones.
So what’s next for you two?
Brett: I mean within five months of being on Peerspace we had made back our money and Ashley had made enough to quit her job. Then a year after that, I was able to quit my job.
Ashley: And we scaled into having a second place where we found a beautiful house on Craigslist, furnished it, and did the exact same business model, and that house took off, too. So at this point, we’re managing our Peerspace rentals full-time, and this business has also allowed us to create other businesses where we essentially help consult and create online coursework for people who want to do the exact same thing we do. So it’s just really cool because we were able to build two full time business, scaled to multiple locations, all from one apartment search. We used Pinterest Advertising as a secret weapon as well.
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