Little house on Broughton Street opens up
In August 2019, Natalie Kirbo began the long process of opening up Bainbridge’s first Airbnb through restoring a historic property and moving it to Broughton Street.
Before she could even begin this process, Kirbo appeared before City Council after working with City Planner Steve O’Neil to draft an ordinance allowing for short term rentals. Once approved, Kirbo moved a home that had been condemned twice to Broughton Street to transform before the neighboring homes’ eyes.
“There were a lot of things that had to happen before I was even able to start the process,” Kirbo said.
Kirbo had hoped to have the “Little house on Broughton Street” open this summer, but with COVID-19 pushing back everything, she took her time to make everything just perfect for the first guests.
The project was a labor of love. Kirbo restored all the original hardwood floors and took home the antique windows to restore them in her basement. Prior to beginning the project, the home had no doors, so Kirbo salvaged a door made of wooden lacquer and unfinished brass that mimicked the time period the home was built in. She also constructed a second salvaged door as an entrance to the side yard and used the home’s original bedroom door as the door to the bathroom. Kirbo even took down a wall to use as wood to construct a bathroom.
“There was no plumbing, so I added that and put a bathroom in the back of the house,” she said.
Most everything in the home was either salvaged or restored, including a 1950’s refrigerator that is fully working.
“I found the fridge in another house I was selling,” Kirbo said. “The homeowner wanted to sell it with the house or give it away and I said I would take it off her hands.”
With everything, including the fridge, now in place Kirbo said it feels like a dream come true.
“The reason I always wanted to put a house here was because of the Japanese Magnolia,” she said. “It’s the prettiest tree on Broughton Street and a house deserved to sit under that beautiful tree.”
As Kirbo was nearing the finish of the house renovation, the Japanese Magnolia bloomed. “
Timing works out just as it’s supposed to,” Kirbo said smiling.
Kirbo was exactly right about the timing. Since her soft opening, the home has now been rented through May, with guests traveling from Athens, Georgia, St. Cloud, Florida and Elberton, Georgia.
“My whole point in doing this was to get people from out of town to stay and visit Bainbridge,” Kirbo said. “But, I never expected it to book up so fast.”
In fact, Kirbo has already had her first guests from North Carolina come and stay this past weekend.
“I didn’t have everything done and I wasn’t 100 percent ready, and it was good because they were the guinea pigs and had a lot of helpful feedback,” Kirbo said. “But, they overall loved it and accomplished everything I hoped it would.”
Kirbo is excited for more guests to come and stay and experience what the town has to offer.
The Airbnb offers a master bedroom that sleeps two and a queen sleeper sofa, totaling four guests.
Kirbo knows she couldn’t have done it without help. She said she is thankful for O’Neil’s encouragement throughout the whole process.
“From the beginning he was so supportive and I couldn’t have done it without cooperation from him,” she said. “He was a great partner and everyone was excellent to work with.”
Kirbo knows running an Airbnb is hard work and while she did open the Airbnb to encourage people to visit Bainbridge, she also did it to save an old house, and she hopes when people will see it, they will be inspired to all preserve historic properties.
To book “the Little house on Broughton Street” visit Airbnb.com/h/littlehouseonbroughton