Make Yourself at Home
Not to name names, but a certain home goods superstore sure has put us all through some trouble. You know what I’m talking about: hours roaming through a cold warehouse followed by even more hours of frustration and little plastic pieces scattered across the floor — and for what? To have that chair or table or bookshelf break in a year or two? No more…
“You don’t have to play by the rules of a normal retail experience — you can feel at home,” says Alex Ryden, founder of Guest House.
As the first company to connect shoppers, makers, interior designers and agents in the Denver real estate market, he believes that quality homemaking takes a village — your village, actually.
That’s because Guest House itself comes from a small community of makers. If you were to jump back six years ago, you’d find Ryden hustling to sell Age Carriers, his line of leather backpacks and luggage. He can tell you firsthand what it’s like to have your head down meticulously crafting a product from the first stitch to the final touches. That’s where this story ultimately begins.
At the time, Age Carriers pined to simplify the way their products were sold.
“It was a grind working with a lot of retailers,” he remembers. “So, we decided to take everything in-house and sell our bags ourselves.”
Now, when he says, “in-house,” he means it. The entire downstairs of his Denver home turned into a storefront.
He explains, “I always wanted to create something that was approachable, and what’s more approachable than a house?”
It seems like a perfect solution, right? But, it turns out, it surfaced a different kind of opportunity: “People would say, ‘The bags are cool — is the couch for sale, too?’”
It was funny at first, and then the lightbulb went off…
Ryden began swapping out everything in his house for products from local makers such as Housefish, New Collar Goods, Hygge Life and brands he’d met selling at the Denver Flea and being a part of the small maker community. He soon partnered with Slate Real Estate Advisors to expand the concept, staging homes around Denver with local makers — including a $1.4 million apartment at the Four Seasons — and bringing on the interior designer Anna Smith (@annabode) as Head of Interiors to mastermind the aesthetic of the spaces. Together, they’re creating shoppable homes.
When you visit a Guest House, everything that’s staged in the home is for sale, and you can shop every Friday and Saturday until the home sells. Visitors are not only invited to touch, feel and see how furniture, art and goods would fit into the larger picture of a modern home; they can discover makers’ stories and take home a piece of the community that lives in the fibers of every item.
“At the heart of ‘locally made’ is community,” Ryden states pridefully. “The idea of being able to furnish your home with products that were made in your neighborhood or in your backyard — I think that’s one of the coolest things you can do.”
After all, being a good neighbor means taking care of one another.
So, next time you have the choice between the nearby furniture megastore and the house up the street, maybe you’ll lean on your neighbor instead. They’re counting on you, too.
Guest House will open the doors to their next shoppable home in Denver from September 21-23. Visit GuestHouseShop.com to be the first to hear details on their latest pop-up.
Published in Boulder Lifestyle, September 2018.