Exciting New 2019 Renovation Projects!

Hi friends. We’re excited to share that we recently purchased a couple of properties and we’ve got some exciting renovations coming up this year! As you know, Emma is based in Springfield, Missouri and Elsie lives in Nashville, Tennessee. We knew we wanted to invest in some properties we could Airbnb, but also live in ourselves when we come to visit each other’s cities (which is a lot).

So first, up—Nashville! Above is a photo of the duplex we just closed on in Nashville. We each purchased one side of the duplex. It’s a brand new build with a pretty basic design, so we’re doing a (tiny) bit of renovation and furnishing our side in our own style! It’s been really fun so far. I (Elsie) am almost wrapped up on my side and I’m coordinating a lot of Emma’s now since she isn’t always in town.

We’re both so excited because this home will give Emma and Trey a place to stay for longer periods of time. Emma comes often for both work projects and to visit, and although she’s always been welcome to stay with me, I know she’s excited to have a little house of her own with a fenced backyard so they can bring their dogs too. Trey has a sister who also lives in the Nashville area and she and her husband have two (adopted) little kiddos as well. So, Emma wanted to be able to come visit more to spend time with their nieces and nephews in addition to all the work trips she does out here.

Also, our grandmother (Norma) and her sister (Ina) live next door to each other and always did when we were growing up. So we had dreamed of having houses next to each other one day and even though this little duplex isn’t exactly the same thing, it definitely is making our grandma dreams come true early. 🙂

Once it’s available to rent, it will also be cool because larger groups could potentially rent both sides for a bigger space.

I believe this is the first time we’ve renovated a contractor-grade new build, so we’re excited to share the room before and afters with you as the months go on! It’s amazing what even small changes to a space can do to personalize the feeling.

Here we are in my mostly completed kitchen, minus that light fixture behind my head. I’ve decorated my side a little more of a farmhouse vibe with a lot of texture. I’m trying to make it as cozy as possible. And I did a cooler color scheme with greens and blues (yes, you read that right, some BLUE!).

On Emma’s side, she chose more modern finishes with a warm color scheme.

We are really excited to share the full reveal with you in the next few months!

In our hometown of Springfield, Missouri, we purchased an adorable historic home in the Rountree area (our favorite neighborhood in our hometown, if you’re not familiar). It’s a very sweet neighborhood. And just around the corner from this house there is a pizza place, a coffee/wine bar, and a small brewery. It’s the perfect neighborhood to take long walks on summer nights. And it’s just a few minutes from our downtown, so it’s super conveniently located to do just about anything.

We are especially excited because this neighborhood is also known for being the best place to trick or treat on Halloween (MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY!). We plan to participate in that in a BIG way this year … hint hint. Stay tuned this October. 😉

I (Elsie) am so excited because one of our personal goals was to spend more time in Missouri with our family. We are planning to spend Halloween and Christmas in this home, starting this year. It’s extra special because I’m imagining us waking up there on Christmas morning (it will be Marigold’s first holiday season with us!). It feels SO magical to me to have this home where we can make memories with our children in our hometown. I’m imagining cousin sleepovers and gingerbread houses, plus there is a fireplace so Santa can visit … all that good stuff! I nicknamed this one “holiday house” since we’ll be spending so many holidays there!

This photo is from last Thanksgiving right after we closed. It was my first time to see the home and I was instantly in love!

Emma and I have designed this home together and we have worked to choose things that go well with the age of the home (it was built in the 1920s). We’ve already done quite a bit of work since then, including a full kitchen renovation, which is nearly complete. Emma has been documenting a LOT of the progress, so be watching our IG stories to see all the behind the scenes. We will for sure we sharing LOTS of room tours and how we updated things with you soon.

Nova loves the house! But don’t all kiddos love running around empty houses? She has to hide in every single closet and try to scare us. Haha!

Just like with the Nashville homes, we’re planning to rent this home out as a short-term rental (like Airbnb) when we’re not using it. So if you’re ever passing through Springfield, Missouri, look us up! We’ll be sure to have links to our properties once they are available.

Before I go, just a quick note! We realize how lucky we are to be able to invest in these properties. Please don’t think it’s something that came overnight for us or something we take lightly. It’s an opportunity we worked and planned for years to be able to achieve and we’re so excited to share our journey with you!

Thanks so much for your love and support. xx – Elsie + Emma

Photos: Katie Day, Trey George, and Jeremy Larson.
  • Just getting caught up and delighted to see this post, I would be very interested in hearing about the recent law changes and how it affects the market. You girls do good work, and I had to chuckle while reading comments from previous posters that want an essay on your contributions. You handled it well.

  • I really enjoyed reading these comments.
    I’m not American but Air BNB is impacting communities around the world (including my hometown in South Africa) so the debate is very interesting to me.

    In addition, someone wrote that they’d be keen to hear more about the business side of ABM. I’d like to second that! Would love to read periodic updates on this too!

  • selfishly excited for all the fun content this will create! I can’t wait to follow along. Congrats you guys!!! ????

  • It’s a shame you have to apologise or explain your success in some ways. I loved seeing you in your new homes, it reminds me of what I could achieve if I work hard. ????

  • Hi Ladies!

    Apologies if this has already been mentioned/ posted something like this and I missed it, but it would be amazing if you guys could post about some of the strategies you use to help save for a home. My husband and I are having trouble finding a balance between “put every penny away for the future” and still being able to enjoy the here and now.
    Any advice or resources would be amazing.

    Thank you for the kick ass blog. I’ve been along for the ride since almost the beginning and am continually inspired by you all 🙂

  • I loved your post right up until the following paragraph:
    “Before I go, just a quick note! We realize how lucky we are to be able to invest in these properties. Please don’t think it’s something that came overnight for us or something we take lightly. It’s an opportunity we worked and planned for years to be able to achieve and we’re so excited to share our journey with you!”

    I hate that there are so many trolls on the internet you and your sister have to constantly have to explain yourself or validate your choices to them. You both are clearly amazing and warm individuals and anyone who reads this blog can see that.

    I am also especially upset that some people also have to troll the comments, eg. with regards to charitable giving.

    All these people should be ashamed of themselves.

    We should be celebrating with you, this is an amazing bit of news. So sad that people feel the need to pull other people down to feel better about themselves.

    You do you Elsie and Emma. Can’t wait to see the posts.


  • Looking forward to your renovation and design posts on these properties. Halloween is my favorite time of the year as well. Cannot wait to see your decorating inspiration for the holidays. I love that you support each other as sisters in your various projects and investments.

  • Don’t apologize, you deserve this. You two are working hard and inspiring so many people to achieve their dreams (-:

  • To me, it goes without saying that you guys are incredibly thoughtful and generous people. It is so obvious in every way through this blog! I saw someone say this, and it would be cool to hear about how you decide to donate to what causes-truly because I value your guys’ opinions so much 🙂 either way, you have NOTHING to explain to anyone!!

  • I dream of renovating an older home someday! Wishing you luck with both projects!

  • Ah I love that you guys bought the duplexes next to each other…such a sweet sister dream! And really how wonderful for you guys to have places to land when you want to go visit your family AND that you’re sharing those places with others. 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait to see all three properties finished!

  • Congratulations! I’m so happy for you both and your families. You’re clearly both people who think deeply about the ramifications of your actions, and I trust you to do research and make good choices for your communities. I love the point someone made above about how it’s great to have more women represented in the short term rental business. All the best

  • Wow, you guys are so flipping inspiring! I LOVE hearing these updates and seeing how well you’re doing. I’ve been a long time follower, so this makes my heart sing!
    As per someone else’s comment, I would love to read more about the business side of things too! Always cool to get tips from successful people like you guys and how you got to where you are today 🙂

    Can’t wait to stay in one of your Airbnb’s when I’m over your way next!
    Sending love from New Zealand xx

  • I’m so looking forward to seeing how you will transform the places, I’m so excited!

  • Don’t apologize for what you all have accomplished. I’ve been a watcher since your scrapbooking days, and I can see all the work and effort you have put in to your business. You are doing honest work, not scamming anyone, so you should be allowed to enjoy the rewards. Ignore the haters, and enjoy your holiday house and more family time. 🙂

    (Maybe if some of these people spent less time on the interwebs criticizing people that do not deserve it and more time accomplishing things, they might have nice things of their own.)

  • This is super cool. I love seeing you succeed.
    Never begrudge the successes of others, let them inspire you!

  • Wow! Congratulations! You gals work so hard and keep me amazed by how much you accomplish. Kudos to you both as well as your team. I cannot wait to see what you make of these spaces!

  • I LOVE Rountree area! We come in from Kansas City for weekend getaways and always stay by Pickwick & Cherry and it’s fabulous corner of local places ????

  • My husband is currently getting his real estate license and we want to invest in both long term and a few thoughtfully selected short term rentals. This is very inspiring! I agree with the comment about how impressive you both are at hearing the naysayera reapectfully and answering true to your own research and opinions. Younguys could offer a Master Class in that skill! Lol.

  • This is really exciting news! Congratulations to you both!
    I know, it’s to each his own, but I would never think of asking a friend if they contribute to charities. And for someone to bring that up here with “internet friends” is very bold. It’s none of our business how you ladies disperse your funds. Have a beautiful day Elsie and Emma!

  • I’ve always gotten the impression that Emma & Elsie were extremely passionate about giving back, so I’m a little surprised by the charity comments.
    Anyway, I’m so excited for this next venture and all of the wonderful content that’s headed our way. I can’t wait to see what y’all do next! ❤️

  • I can’t wait to see what you have planned for each! Love that your grandma dreams are coming true. That is so cute! <3

  • It’s wonderful you’re able to achieve this. Sounds like you’ve done your research on bnb’s in those cities and feel you will be adding to instead of detracting from the communities. Kudos! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with them. Btw, just got A Color Story today. Having so much fun with it and posted a first pic today 🙂

  • Ahh amazing!! Can’t wait for the reveals!! Congratulations, what an exciting milestone and opportunity. Xx

  • So pumped on how you’re thoughtfully bettering the communities you live in AND the internet! I can’t wait to follow along and see what you do with these spaces. 🙂

  • This is so interesting and I can’t wait to read & see more about it. I’m fascinated by duplexes since Young House Love! Thank you also for being really helpful indicating the I pronoun for us. 🙂

    • Yes- we love to follow Sherry and John too! They’re so inspiring!

      • I am 110% obsessed with everything John and Sherry do and have been following along with their renovations for years including their duplex. 😉 They are amazing.

  • So fun! Congrats and looking forward to seeing the room/house tours in the future. Sorry you had to put the disclaimer at the end, but I know it comes with the territory (unfortunately). Keep being you and enjoy the blessing of what you’ve been able to accomplish with all of your hard work.

  • This is AMAZING! I can’t wait to see what you guys do with the spaces. Especially that duplex – I love the idea of you each decorating your halves in your own styles! 🙂 – Mike.

  • I am so happy for you guys! That is so exciting, I cannot wait to see the finished renovations!


  • How fun!! I know it’s always a little gauche to talk about money, but in the same way you do DIYs and decor breakdowns I would love a little peek into how you manage your properties. Like are they mortgaged, what kind of mortgage, are you mainly going through the business as a corporation…etc. etc.

    I have a lot of interest in building a portfolio of properties and it seems like a really male dominated niche. (Or the women’s blogs/podcasts I’ve found have very different lifestyles. I’d love to see it from the perspective of creative women in their 20’s/30’s!)

    Anyhow, super cute- and I love the idea of calling it the “Holiday House” !

    • Agreed on this topic. I would love to see more business related posts now that the ABM business is growing. I’m sure many other readers would love to follow the avenues you ladies have taken towards success!

    • Good to know of this interest! I am personally always super interested in learning more about other peoples’ businesses and investments and learning from others over the years has really helped me so the thought of doing that in any small way for others would be something we’d be interested in. Although, obviously, talking about money can be quite intimidating as well for a lot of reasons.

      Anyway, good to know of the interest. And just know I’m always willing to answer more specific questions over email: emma AT abeautifulmess DOT com. 🙂

  • Gorgeous!! I’m so excited to see everything! I always end up pinning your room reveals for inspiration. 🙂

  • So inspiring! So much fun! Can’t wait to see what you do with the place x

  • Congratulations on the new properties! That’s so amazing and I can’t wait be able to invest like this one day. Hard work and dedication! Your renovation projects are my very fave posts that you do. Can’t wait to see the progress.

  • How exciting! Always love seeing how you guys renovate a space and this one feels so special since you will be able to spend more time together! And the story about your grandma and her sister! Life goal for sure!

  • I hope y’all donate to charity or something from time to time. Also, you should check into articles about how Air bnb has really ruined and taken over neighborhoods–like in NOLA…

    • Hi Mimi!

      Yes- giving to charity is very important to us and we’re always open to reminders of how important it is. We actually donated a house we bought in cash to Habitat For Humanity a few years ago (you can see it here in our archives) and have a program set up to give a portion of our ad money to a different charity each month.

      Regarding airbnb “ruining or taking over” neighborhoods- I also think this is an important conversation that we want to continually have and stay educated on. Every city is so different.

      Both these communities have protections in place to make sure short term rentals are moderated. In Springfield they started something new where there can’t be too many bnbs in the same neighborhood. And in Nashville it is very strictly moderated, so we know there are not too many bnbs in the city (in fact there are currently less than there have been in years). We believe we’re contributing something positive to both these communities with these short term properties, and we’ll be staying in them ourselves as we travel back and forth to visit.

      We’re always open to having thoughtful conversations on these topics!

      • I didn’t know about your monthly charitable giving — I’d love to see which organizations you’re supporting! . As a nonprofit employee myself, it can be really impactful when folks share where they donate and I’m always curious about great organizations and what they’re doing. Looking forward to seeing the renovations on your new places!

        • It’s linked on our About page (at the top of the site). But to be 100% we don’t plan to necessarily talk about giving to charity every time we do it. We will sometimes, like the Habitat for Humanity project we did and we’ve done a number of food drives for our local food banks in the past as well. But it does feel a touch inauthentic to us to always be talking publicly about donating to charity, sometimes it feels good to just do it but not talk too much about it. I hope that makes sense.

          • I am glad to hear Emma’s thoughts on this topic. It seems publicly announcing charitable giving at any scale can turn into a race to prove who is giving the most or at least broadcasting it the loudest. For myself, I don’t truly feel that great about what I’m giving unless it isn’t known by others. Sometimes one of the most thrilling parts of the gift is the pat on the back – if I give it to myself and hold it quietly (internally) I feel my giving is purely motivated but if I am seeking kudos from others that is self-serving.

          • Not talking about what and where and how much you donate is a great thought, I think — but you could also inspire others to give more (and help charities and the people they support, a lot) by sometimes talking about giving. You inspire a lot of people every day though your blog and other media, and inspiring more generosity and altruism in different ways could make things even more beautiful! 🙂
            Emma, I’d really like to read a “guide” written by you in 3–5 points on how you read up on causes, choose what to support, decide whether it’s once or a long-term commitment and follow up. Either as a company or as a family. Maybe you’ve planned something like that already?

      • Elsie,

        You always answer questions/concerns so graciously. I am always encouraged by your replies. Thanks for being firm when it needs to be firm, but also practicing so much kindness. XO

      • I think there’s also something to be said in the defense of Airbnbs and the like; my friends and I actually just stayed in one two weeks ago (in Springfield, in the Rountree area, on Rodgers!! Side note, Fremont is basically my fave street in Springfield. I SO love that whole area as well ????) and have stayed in multiple others in Springfield over the past few years. I would argue that each of those properties was given love and life in a situation where they might have otherwise been left to disintegrate, which can in turn actually inspire an upswing in the neighborhood, rather than the other way around. I look forward to one day staying in either of your properties, since I live just about in the middle! (Sikeston, MO :))

        • Yah I’m a native of Anaheim, CA (home of Disneyland) and when airbnb and the like started up it was really convenient for a lot of us. I know a lot of people personally, me included, who have gotten extra work when we needed it cleaning or managing these houses, and when large groups of family came to visit it was always convenient to have that option. Disney holds all the power over this town though and they put an end to them, but even though we are a town who shares ourselves with millions of tourists a year, I never personally heard anyone complain about the bnbs. Like I said, it was jobs in cleaning, management and small business for a lot of families. That’s something I’ve never heard anyone mention. But I’m sure there’s areas where it’s different

      • Thanks for being responsible and thoughtful about this issue. As someone living in San Francisco, which has been destroyed by AirBnB, it’s good to know that there are at least some owners who aren’t just the shell to become illegal hotel owners.

    • It’s thoughtful of you to be concerned about charities. Elsie and Emma have donated time and resources to a wide variety of non-profits and charitable organizations. Sometimes they have mentioned these charities on their blog, but many times they just quietly give and support.
      I’ve always been puzzled about the idea that Air bnb is detrimental to neighborhoods. If the person who moves in next to you doesn’t mow their grass, take care of their home, or has dogs that bark all night and poop in your yard, you are kind of stuck with them. Air bnb owners have much more incentive to keep their homes and yards tidy and be good neighbors. Not trying to be argumentative, just my thoughts….

      • @Pat It is detrimental to neighborhoods in that it takes housing stock off the market and makes housing more expensive. It happened in New York City when thousands of apartments were taken out of the pool and rented as short terms. Less stock equals higher prices, this trend is exacerbated in neighborhoods desirable to tourists. I’d also like to point out that it is not fun to have airbnbs as a neighbor. There are parties, you don’t know who is coming and going, even if you had perfect hosts and only the best vacationers, who wants to live in a neighborhood without real neighbors? You lose local investment in the community. It is currently happening in my neighborhood in Kansas City. I hope they continue to put ordinances in place to protect housing affordability and current residents. I hope that Elsie and Emma take this seriously as I do enjoy this blog, but I also hope they can relate this type of thing on the blog rather than just showing how fun it is to buy and redecorate a house and then use it to make income as an airbnb.

        • Hi!
          Like I said in my comment above, it’s different in every city. The cities we are doing these homes in are very moderated and there will not be unlimited bnbs due to laws in place. I agree that it’s possible for it to get out of balance (and stories from New York and New Orleans provide valuable perspective). That said, in these cities we feel it will provide a helpful option as well as a place we can stay when visiting each other.

          We would never try to oversimplify this debate. There are definitely a lot of valuable checks and balances that need to be in place, but we don’t believe we’re overstepping those boundaries. We love our cities and want to invest more money, make these properties nicer, pay taxes etc. 🙂 For example- we considered buying a second home in Missouri for a while because we want to visit more and it’s nice to have your own space (especially with another kid on the way) but we felt it would be weird for it to sit empty so much- this is a win/win for us since we have a place to stay and we’re making a nice bnb for others to stay in as well.

          Anyway! My point is feel free to voice your opinions- we don’t disagree with any of those extreme examples but it is different in each city and we’re trying to do a good job and add value to our communities! :))

          • I thought Nashville passed a rule stating that a home had to be your permanent residence in order to be used as an Air Bnb? I have lived in two cities that drastically changed because of Air BNB culture. If you are on the owner side it’s great.. ( who doesn’t love fluid income?)…but for the majority of OG locals it can be a nightmare (I’m looking at you Bachelorette parties en masse). Look at what happened in East Nashville over the last decade. IN 2008 you could buy a home there for $70-100k. Now developers offer to owners in cash under market price to sell and then bulldoze the home to put up as many tall and skinnies/duplexes/quads as possible. It can be a super sad thing.

          • Nashville does have those laws for residential zoned properties (we purchased a property with a different zoning).

            I have heard so many different experiences about the growth in East Nashville. Not all good, not all bad. It’s a big and complicated issue for a city to grow that fast. I’m always curious to learn more about people’s experiences who have lived in Nashville much longer than we have.

            As far as bachelorettes- we have a no bachelorette party rule (and very strict rules in general) and have never had a problem with it. I definitely think that’s something owners need to be responsible for since Nashville has so many bachelor/bachelorette parties (and I also honestly think those parties are better off staying in a hotel downtown).

          • Good job on the no bachelorettes! It makes way more sense to have them stay in downtown!

            I moved to Nashville in 2003 and lived there 11 years (4 years of that in east nashville). Nashville will always have a piece of my heart. I saw the ups and downs of progress, and honestly I mourn the Nashville I know. That’s not to say that there aren’t awesome things happening there (because there definitely are) but those things came at the expense of a lot of really great things… primarily how accessible Nashville used to be and how many of the artists and makers and small business who launched Nashville into what it is now, can no longer afford to live or do business there now that the NY and LA money came in. It’s happening in a lot of cities, and I suppose it’s to be expected… but it is sad. Hopefully things will level out over time.

            I do wish you luck in your endeavors there though.. I still believe Nashville is a winner.

        • Marisa: I know Elsie and Emma personally and you really couldn’t wish for better or more moral business women. These properties are in office/commercial zoned areas of Nashville and in no way take residential inventory “off the market”. I rarely read these comments, but it seems some people are so blinded by jealousy that they freely make negative assumptions. Just annoying when uninformed folks are bitterly critical toward these gals follows all the rules and are contributing positively to society in every way.

    • I trust being seasoned business people that they did the research and are grounded in their values. Please celebrate others success! I’d also like to point out that I would much rather rent an Airbnb from someone who owns a small business and then to rent a hotel room from a large chain. I assume you hadn’t thought of that. If you are disappointed with your own success look into changing that for yourself. Congrats Elsie and Emma! I have loved watching you grow and blossom through the years and share your gift with so many people.

      • Isn’t supporting Airbnb the same as supporting a “large hotel chain”? The difference is, those small business owners have no protection, and you’re still supporting a large corporation – who is using free labor to make money. You as a guest also don’t have protection – Legally and safety-wise (hotels have to pass rigorous safety standards. Your Airbnbs do not. Your gambling whether smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, locks, electricity, plumbling etc all work properly). Hotels also do not take homes away from low income and middle-class families under the guise of progress. with no control or over-sight. I trust you hadn’t thought of that, though.

        • Jenny, I have to respectfully disagree with a number of your points here.

          Guests do have protection. I can’t speak for every city in the world but in both Springfield and Nashville you have to pass multiple inspections (for adequate smoke detectors and other safety measures) before you can obtain your short term rental permit and legally have guests stay in your home. I think this is a great law and I am VERY glad as both an owner and someone who rents short term rentals to stay in with family on vacations that this is the case. And if anyone out there reading this does ever stay in a short term rental that didn’t have smoke detectors or locks on a door, etc you should absolutely inform the owner and if needed (like if they do not resolve the issue) leave a review on the website and contact the city to let them know.

          Also, we did not take a home away from low income or middle class families. We are a middle class family, for one. But more importantly you may not know this but there are actually quite a lot of laws and over-sight for short term rentals. Again, I am not an excerpt on every single market but in both Springfield and Nashville there are only certain zoned areas you can have short term rentals in OR there can only be a certain number in an area. I personally especially like this second option (this is what Springfield has) because it protects neighborhoods from being completely bought up by investors for the purpose of short term rentals. Both of the properties we chose to purchase completed the requirements of these oversight measures.

    • Hi Mimi –

      A couple of thoughts:

      1. It’s Elsie + Emma’s business what they do with their money. No one else’s. They have worked hard and earned it. They can do whatever they please with it.

      2. I doubt if they were men, anyone would be making comments like this. Instead of shaming them for making money, let’s cheer them on for working hard and making intelligent business decisions. In addition, if you are here on their website, consuming the FREE content they create (like all of us), then you too are profiting from their hard work.

      Have a great day!

  • So excited, you girls never disappoint! Really looking forward to the renovation posts. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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