Photography by Michelle Pulling
At the former home of First National Bank in downtown Buchanan is a back stairway that looks like it leads up to an abandoned storage space. The old stairs creek and groan with each step to a top landing that looks inviting after the narrow journey to the upper floor of an old bank.
But the top floor of what is now Abandoned Relik, Daniel and Christy Carlson’s furniture design store, is the Carlsons’ newest renovation — The Loft, an Airbnb space available for $85 per night with a blended esthetic of industrial, rustic eclectic and hints of postmodern design. The Loft is Daniel and Christy’s taste in home décor come alive as a rentable model of what everything in their own store would look like in a real home.
“As far as our style, we like a lot of different architectural elements, coupled with found items and historic pieces. It’s kind of fun to put refined elements right next to an old, beat up coffee table,” Daniel says. “I think part of why we did the space the way we did here is we wanted it to be an extension of our personalities.”
The first room of The Loft is the kitchen, a modern space with up-to-date appliances, white cabinets, a dark grey island with a white top and hanging lights with mostly exposed bulbs. The kitchen sets the tone of the rest of the space that carries the consistent themes of white and grey with dark accents.
Off the north end of the kitchen is a hallway leading to the bathroom with heated floors, its own urinal and a closet shower with white tile. At the end of the hallway there is a small closet door, inside of which is ladder leading to the compact sleeping loft.
To the left of the kitchen, an open walkway leads to the living room with dining tables that rest comfortably against the outside wall. In the spacious living room sits a dark grey couch, a couple of cozy armchairs and varieties of decorative knickknacks that playfully liven the space.
Off the south end of the living room through two repurposed sliding barn doors is the master bedroom with a king size bed, ample natural light from the south and west and plenty of drawer space in the matching dresser set. From the north end of the living room is a cozy bunkbed room, lightened by sky blue walls and white ceiling and accented by the matching dark grey shelves and bunks.
The Loft is on the small side of traditional Airbnb spaces, but what it sacrifices in space it makes up for in design and comfort. The Carlsons’ upstairs rental goes beyond the basic comforts and function of a hotel for an at-home atmosphere one would hope for in a loft style apartment.
The Carlsons designed The Loft with a homey feel in mind because they intended to make it their own permanent residence. With a few months of work on a dramatic renovation, Daniel and Christy transformed the dilapidated former office space into their dream loft. But after about six months in the apartment, shared with their own children, the Carlsons realized the space would be better suited for temporary stays.
By September 2018 The Loft was open for Airbnb rental, and their business has hardly slowed. Parents of Notre Dame students, wedding parties and all other varieties of out of town visitors have stayed since the opening.
“Within a couple of weeks we were pretty heavily booked,” Daniel says. “Part of our thing is we’re in such close proximity to the wineries and the brewpubs. It’s a pretty good, centrally located area, but if you also want to go into the Mishawaka and South Bend area you’re away from the hustle and bustle.”
Christy and Daniel see the Airbnb platform as a practical tool for finding spaces like theirs. The Loft is not in the middle nowhere, but it’s still quiet. It’s far enough away from the dense traffic of more populated, larger cities while being only a few miles down the road from U.S. Highway 31.
Surrounding The Loft is southwest Michigan’s wine country. To the north are destination cities like St. Joseph. To the west is Harbor Country and nearby Lake Michigan and to the south is South Bend.
“You can really customize to what you’re looking for and allow it to work in your favor,” Christy said. “I’ve been surprised by the locals, and even the locals in town that have used it for family coming in.”
Daniel and Christy made The Loft with a personal touch, one that is not only made to their own liking, but is diverse enough to work for individuals and small parties alike.
Whether one is looking for a brief getaway in a quiet town, or just to be a little off the beaten path to bigger attractions, The Loft is a few clicks and a back stairway away from laid back, high design and wallet-friendly accommodations.