Airbnb Plus hosts share their unique design process and vision. I first came across Tribal + Coastal @ THE UNITS when I started seeing their dreamy images on Instagram. I wanted to see and learn more! You’ll find so many inspiring hosting tips in this Airbnb Plus Host interview!
Airbnb plus hosts, Bree and Chris Nield have created a travelers’ oasis in Queensland, Australia. Renovating a duplex in Alexandra Head with two unique design concepts: Tribal + Coastal!
I’ve interviewed Bree who is a cake designer, Mama, and Airbnb Plus Host. She’s sharing her design inspiration and renovation journey and so many helpful tips with us today! As an Airbnb Plus Host and ambassador, we can learn so much from her!
Airbnb Host Interview Bree Nield | Tribal + Coastal @ THE UNITS
A little bit of history
At first, I did not envision having two totally different design briefs for each property. I loved both tribal and coastal styling themes equally; how could I pick one? During the design stage, I remember having a coffee with a friend showing her my countless Pinterest boards of styling inspiration for tribal and coastal decor styles. In that moment the idea came to me: “I can totally do both!”
We listed Tribal on Airbnb and within days we had our first booking! We had high hopes, a massive amount of drive and passion, a draining budget, very little sleep and now a deadline!!
It was an exhausting challenge but one that we thoroughly loved and are very proud of. There’s nothing else quite like The Units available on Airbnb in our area so we’re crossing our fingers it’s a success. One year on and it certainly looks that way!
Your units have two unique themes: Tribal and Coastal. What elements did you add to enhance the feel of each?
In Tribal I chose to features bold, earthy tones and contemporary fixtures with natural textures and wildlife decor. I wanted there to be lots of black and white in Tribal, along with some timber elements. We chose to paint the unit white and incorporate the black contrast by installing black ceiling fans, doorknobs and tapware.
Coastal, on the other hand, has a beachy vibe; it’s light and breezy with a palette drawn from sand and shells which whispers ‘summer’ all year round. I chose to stick with all white walls, kitchen, fans, and fixtures to maintain the crisp vibe I was striving for.
We also used VJ paneling a lot more in Coastal (VJ stands for vertical join). VJ paneling is an Australian take on classic Hamptons style and is a common element on interior walls in many Queensland homes. It’s also a great way to hide very old walls that are in bad shape! But shhh that’s our secret!
The vision for your Airbnb Plus
The idea was simple; we adore where we live and wanted to share it with others. When we go on vacation, we love to live like a local rather than do the typical touristy things. We have worked hard to make The Units feel modern and stylish while not losing touch of the importance of being welcoming and comfortable.
A good Welcome book is vital to any Airbnb and we have worked hard to create one that is packed full of helpful information and great tips on what to do and where to eat in the area.
We even go as far as suggesting what to order from the menu of our favorite cafes and restaurants! When traveling to a new area, having someone take the guesswork out, is important to us. This is something we love and appreciate when we travel away from home.
Favorite part of the design process?
Call me boring but I am a planner! So it’s no surprise my favorite aspect of the process was research and planning. My husband Chris is a builder and I am a cake decorator by trade so I guess we could consider ourselves creative people? Even though we had never done anything like this together in the past, Chris handed me the reigns of the entire design process while he handled the demolition and construction of the project.
This was both exciting and extremely daunting for me. My first step was to start with oodles of boards on Pinterest, strategically categorized of course! After a while, I could see a pattern emerge revealing the set styles I was going for.
Once I had a clear vision of the design brief for each unit, I created a hard copy ‘look book’ for each property. The look books were folders which included things like floor plans, sketches, magazine cut-outs, appliance brochures, quotes, budget spreadsheets, you name it!
I would take my look books to every appointment, hardware store, furniture shop, etc and when the salespeople would ask what I was after, I could produce an image or a measurement for them instantly. I found this saved a lot of time and resulted in me getting exactly what I was looking for.
The most challenging part of the design process?
Tribal’s bathroom due to its extremely small space and plumbing restrictions. My aim was to showcases a combination of contemporary efficiency and rustic charm.
Modern matte black fixtures, clean lines and natural elements blend nicely to make this small functional wet room. Our earthy river-stone sink and timber vanity is perfect due to our limited space.
We found the timber for the repurposed wood vanity top on the side of the road! It works perfectly with the river-stone sink I picked up off eBay. The black and white patterned floor tiles provide excitement and a quirky touch to the bathroom.
Everyone comments on them! Being an Airbnb property, not a lot of storage is required. Rather than shelving, I have found decorative wall hooks and baskets to be a useful feature.
You offer your Airbnb Plus as accommodation and as a photoshoot location. How do you find hosting photoshoots?
This came about completely by accident! My husband needed a place to hold a marketing photo shoot for his business, so he used Coastal as the location. I happened to post a behind the scenes picture on The Units Instagram page which then prompted a number of photographers and social media influencers to approach me requesting our rates to hire The Units for content shoots.
Going back to our initial vision for The Units; we set out to create a warm and welcoming feel with the aim of sharing the properties with as many people as possible so why not extend that to local businesses?
Our photoshoots are express bookings which means check-in at 11 am and out at 1 pm. Having it this way, there’s enough time to still take on overnight Airbnb bookings immediately after the photoshoot. We have found it’s a great way to earn some extra income, especially in the slower months.
What extra amenities, as Airbnb Plus Hosts, do you provide that guests have appreciated the most?
We are huge fans of the ‘wow factor’ so we are constantly thinking of new things to provide our guests when they stay at The Units. Alexandra Headland and its neighbouring suburbs have many high-rises and holiday accommodation sites, so the competition is hot.
Throughout the entire design process, Chris and I were adamant to have a point of difference. Spending money on items such as luxury hand wash and 100% French linen bedding is something that does not go unnoticed by our guests.
We also provide little extras like eye masks and earplugs on the bedside tables. And who doesn’t love a freebie? Our guests receive a complimentary bottle of wine which includes a handwritten note, a full jar of choc chip cookies, canisters of breakfast cereal, fresh milk, and bottled water.
The front doors of Tribal and Coastal are painted in black chalkboard paint, and because we go bonkers for a personal touch, we write a welcome message to our guests on the front doors at every check-in.
What does your ideal weekend spent in Alexandra Headland look like?
Known by the locals as ‘Alex’, Alexandra Headland is a coastal town situated on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (approximately 1 hour drive north of Brisbane). Alex has a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere that complements the soothing rolling surf and inviting beaches. Alex is a patrolled swimming beach.
On any day, our guests can enjoy watching the surfers or better yet join them. Tribal and Coastal are located directly on top of the iconic Beach Beat Surf Shop who are more than happy to hook our guests up with a surfboard for the day!
For the skaters and bikers, there is an outdoor skate park right alongside the beach, directly opposite The Units. But if chilling out is more your style, you will go nuts for all of the cafes, restaurants, and shops right at your doorstep.
Personally, if I was a guest staying in Tribal or Coastal, I would grab the picnic blanket and basket from above the kitchen cupboards and head by foot up to the headland to feast on cheese, crackers, and the incredible local seafood while sipping on wine watching the surfers master their craft. Either way, leave your car at The Units and get amongst it!
As Airbnb Plus Hosts, what advice can you give to new hosts looking to decorate an Airbnb in a fresh and modern way?
When it came time for the décor styling stage at Tribal and Coastal, budget was my biggest barrier! I would scroll through Instagram and see the most amazing furniture and artworks, click on the tags and soon discover that the couch featured in the post I loved, cost more than my kitchen. So I had to be smart.
The easiest way to begin styling a new project is by starting with a blank canvas (in our case; white walls, timber look vinyl floor planks, white window shutters). This way the space immediately looks clean, fresh, and airy. Once you have your bigger signature pieces in place (couch, dining table, entertainment unit, etc) add character and charm by the use of rugs, cushions, throws, ottomans, lamps, indoor plants, and baskets.
All of these items are super affordable if you know where to look. Artwork does not need to be expensive. Everyone knows someone who can draw or paint, ask them for pieces! In our case, I asked a friend to draw me some animal illustrations for Tribal which I then displayed in cheap Kmart frames. They look incredible and our guests love them!
For my free Airbnb Decor checklist with room-by-room essentials for your Airbnb click here!
Do you add in seasonal decor?
One thing I love to do as the seasons change is mix up the color palette a little in each unit. In Tribal this winter I have added more earthy colors like dark brown and burnt orange plus a touch of bronze to create a cozier vibe. In Coastal, I introduced navy blue and olive green for the same reason. I also added layers by using chunky throws and cushions with lots of texture. We have an onsite storeroom where we store the décor pieces in-between seasons.
Do you find having a solid Instagram presence has increased your bookings?
One piece of advice we like to give people who are starting out as Airbnb hosts is to keep your photos real. So many of our guest reviews mention “the property was exactly like the photos”. We all know too well, there’s nothing worse than rocking up to a hotel room (which looked incredible online) to find a rundown, dark and old version of what was advertised.
Instagram helps portray the realness of the property. In both of our Airbnb listing descriptions, we open with a mention of our Instagram account and encourage our potential guests to head over and take a look. This is a great way of showcasing endless photos and videos to our customers; especially for Tribal as it’s an Airbnb Plus property so we have no control over the photos featured in our listing.
Thank you, Bree, for sharing your eye for design and multi-talents with us! Oh and she also designed these cupcakes… need I say more, details like this make you an Airbnb plus host! I hope you enjoyed this inspiring interview!
If you would like more hosting tips and my step-by-step guide to becoming a Super Host (with over 80+ beautiful printables including this cute wifi sign) click here!