The Glass Treehouse. Have you ever dreamed of buying a vintage fixer-upper in the woods, and just taking the plunge to DIY renovate it all into an Airbnb? Well Andy and Ashley Schott, did just that!
When they bought what would become The Glass Treehouse, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it was a diamond in the rough. They gutted it down to the posts and beams, DIY’ed the whole project, obsessing over every detail. and created what is now a gorgeous Scandinavian retreat set against a forest backdrop.
The Glass Treehouse was built in 1969 and fully renovated in 2020. It is a 1050 square foot post and beam Topsider pedestal home nestled on the side of a mountain. Throughout this home, the line between indoors and outdoors is blurred. A waterfall greets guests as they cross the bridge to the front door. Stone walls and slate floor transition up the spiral staircase to a bright cozy nest. A babbling creek is visible through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Glass Treehouse
The details are everything. Live plants, tree branch tables, and firewood alcove bring the forest indoors. A stone accent wall in the bedroom echoes panoramic granite boulders best seen from your pillow. From natural organic products to fluffy towels and thoughtful design touches. They have thought of everything for a romantic luxe stay in the woods. Enjoy the interview and all the nuggets of hosting wisdom!
Airbnb Design Interview: Andy and Ashley Schott of The Glass Treehouse
Firstly, tell us about yourselves!
We are Andy and Ashley Schott, empty nesters starting a new chapter of life. Andy has owned and operated an auto repair shop for the last 25 years. Ashley enjoyed a long career in children’s ministry and now works as an interior designer in Charlotte. Renovating the Glass Treehouse has led us both to make career changes and pursue our dream of creating more romantic getaways like The Glass Treehouse.
How did your hosting adventure start?
In the fall of 2020, we went live on Instagram and soon thereafter with bookings. Christina Lewis, a designer, and friend we knew from years ago shared our post on @lovecominghome not even realizing it was our house. I felt so honored she liked it because she’s a really amazing designer. She and her husband, Tim, own the Redesign Company in Charlotte.
We reconnected and invited them to stay a weekend at The Glass Treehouse. If you missed their posts and tour, go to their #treehouse highlights. But the best part of this story is that Tim and Christina invited me to join their Redesign team. Of course, I jumped at the chance! How they help people love coming home is nothing short of amazing. I never imagined designing the Glass Treehouse would lead to a new career, but I couldn’t be happier. I love my new job!
What was your vision when you first saw the 1960’s Glass Treehouse?
We saw a real diamond in the rough. It had been on the market for 3 years. Our realtor called it a teardown, but we fell in love at first sight. It took a lot of vision.
How did you gather inspiration and narrow down your design choices?
Pinterest was hugely inspiring. I created boards for every aspect of the design and it really helped me hone in on my style. For example, when designing the kitchen, I first thought I wanted a sleek modern stainless steel vent hood over the stove. But when I looked over my pins, I realized that what I really liked was a simple white Scandi-style concealed vent hood. I returned the stainless vent hood I had bought, still in the box, and asked Andy to build us what I had seen on Pinterest. It was one of my favorite design decisions.
One important thing we learned was that it was okay to change our minds as we proceeded through our renovation. Taking our time and doing it ourselves allowed us to add things along the way that improved the design from our original ideas. For example, mid-way through, we decided to add large privacy glass windows in the bathroom for more natural light. We added the firewood alcove and stone accent wall in the bedroom. Our design evolved as were constantly inspired by things we saw on Pinterest and incorporated them into our design.
What was your favorite part of the design process with The Glass Treehouse?
I think my favorite part was the very beginning. We had a post and beam octagon house that was a blank slate, meaning none of the interior or exterior walls are load-bearing. Because of this, we were able to completely redesign the floor plan. We took down all of the interior walls and because of wood rot, had to take down and rebuild 6 of the 8 exterior walls including most of the floor joists. At one point, it was nothing more than a gazebo and we slept in a tent under the roof. The original floor plan did not function well, so I printed out a bunch of octagons on paper and started drawing floor plans. We ended up with a spacious open floor plan with windows on every exterior wall. The kitchen and bath are so much more spacious. There is a lot more light.
Did you do it all yourself or did you hire professionals for certain tasks, like tiling, etc?
We hired a professional to help tile the bathroom. We had zero experience with tile. He got it mostly finished for us and we did the rest ourselves including the grouting. After that, we felt ready to tile the kitchen backsplash ourselves. Everything else we did ourselves including demolition, rebuilding rotten floor joists, electrical, plumbing, flooring, cabinets, windows, walls, doors, hot tub, everything you can think of we did it ourselves. Andy was feeling exhausted by the project at that time, but I was determined to have this over-grouted stone wall, so Andy carried up the stone for me and I stayed a few days up there by myself. After watching some Youtube videos, I built the stone wall in the bedroom myself. Love how it turned out!
What extra amenities or design touches do you provide that guests have appreciated the most at The Glass Treehouse?
Our number one goal is to exceed our guests’ expectations and spoil them with a luxe romantic getaway. They comment most about the attention to detail and luxury touches. We spent a lot of time thinking about what would make for the most enjoyable romantic experience. We want them to feel cared for and lacking for nothing. Some ways we accomplish this are with things like having a diffuser by the bed, essential oil spritzes in the bathroom, portable Bluetooth speaker they can take out to the hot tub or fire pit.
A bottle of wine and a personal note. Fully stocked kitchen with organic spices and flavored olive oils. Samsung Frame TV so they can select the framed art they see during their stay. Landscape lighting on the boulders outside floor-to-ceiling bedroom windows at night. Guests can set them on a timer so that they don’t have to get out of bed to turn them off.
There are a few amenities guests comment about the most:
Coffee/Tea bar: We decided to go all out and provide things that coffee and tea lovers would appreciate. We stocked our bar with different methods of brewing to make the perfect cuppa. These include a Chemex (infusion method), French Press (immersion method), Bialetti Moka Pot (pressure method), and a Keurig for those who don’t want to measure, weigh, or think too hard 🙂
In addition, we provide fresh locally roasted whole coffee beans, a grinder, scale, hot/cold milk frother, goose-neck electric kettle, and Starbucks k-cups. We also provide a porcelain teapot and premium loose-leaf herbal teas.
King bed: We have a Winkbed mattress that our guests absolutely rave about. Several guests have bought one for their homes. Heated mattress pad and luxury linens.
Spa-like Bathroom: We wanted to create a spa-like bathroom. Our guests have really appreciated the heated floors, heated towel bars, spa slippers, and robes. We get asked about our robes more than anything. We point them to our Amazon store.
What does your ideal weekend spent in your area?
Our area is known as the Blue Ridge Mountains in western NC. The Glass Treehouse is centrally located between Boone, Banner Elk, and Blowing Rock, popular mountain towns for visitors in the NC High Country. An ideal weekend might include visiting one of the 3 ski resorts nearby. They have all the winter sports and in summer offer mountain biking and live music concerts. We are within walking distance to Grandfather Winery and Vineyards on the Watauga river with a gorgeous profile view of Grandfather Mountain, an iconic attraction in this area with its mile-high swinging bridge. There are lots of hiking trails nearby with magnificent views and lovely waterfalls. Couples can enjoy the restaurants, breweries, galleries, shopping as well as outdoor adventures such as rafting, trout fishing, ATV trails, rock climbing, and golfing.
Where are your favorite spots for guests to relax at The Glass Treehouse?
There are so many cozy vignettes for relaxing inside and outside:
• Recline in the West Elm leather swivel chair with ottoman and warm up with the vintage 60’s era Malm wood-burning fireplace while listening to the sounds of the creek below.
• Enjoy the panoramic view of giant boulders best seen from your pillow as you lounge in your luxury king-size bed.
• Dine alfresco on your choice of two decks, one with a stone grill, string lights, and woodland boulder views, or choose the creekside deck with waterfall views.
• Take a nap in the double hammock or double chaise as you gaze up at giant boulders.
• Soak in your own private hot tub tucked into a rhododendron thicket.
• Gaze at the stars or waterfalls while enjoying the outdoor fire pit in comfortable Polywood Adirondack chairs, we provide blankets and pillows for the firepit area.
How has the experience of renovating The Glass Treehouse Transformed your own lives?
This experience has been truly life-changing for both of us. I am no longer working as a designer, though it was a wonderful time of learning about the design business and I am forever grateful. But we felt inspired to make some big changes and manage the Glass Treehouse ourselves. We started this journey with the services of a management company, but soon realized we wanted to be more hands-on so that we could truly care for our guests. Our goal is to spoil every guest with a luxe romantic getaway. We found we loved hosting so much, we sold our home and business, and moved up to the mountains to make this our full-time gig.
What advice can you give to new hosts looking to take the plunge and renovate a fixer-upper into a STR?
Our biggest advice when looking for a property to renovate into an STR is to find one that has something special about it. The house itself may need work, but when you see it for the first time, something about it should literally make you say “wow” out loud. Take whatever that special thing is and enhance it with your reno. That “wow” factor will translate to your guests and make for a memorable experience.
Any advice for new Airbnb hosts just starting out?
Imagine the kind of guest you want to stay at your Airbnb. Ask yourself, what would make for the most satisfying experience? Try to anticipate your guests’ wants and needs. Is there something you can surprise them with that they weren’t expecting? Invite feedback and look for ways to improve. If your guest felt something was lacking or not up to par, can you fix it now or overtime?
Be as communicative, available, and responsive as possible before, during, and after their stay. Before they arrive, we tell all of our guests that we strive for a five-star review, so if there’s anything they need during their stay to make it a five-star experience, please let us know.
Andrea, thank you so much for the opportunity to share our story. We are grateful that you chose our place to highlight. We hope we can be an inspiration to anyone who wants to put their whole heart into creating a unique experience for their Airbnb guests!
Airbnb: The Glass Tree House
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