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Pirates of the Caribbean Getaway. Rocky Mountain Treehouse. Geodesic Dome in the Woods. Historic Engine 24 New Orleans Firehouse. These are just a few of the wildly unique experiences you’ll find on Airbnb, scheduled months—sometimes years—in advance by experience seekers whose itch for the uncommon could never be scratched by a big-name hotel chain. And behind each of these “homes” is a person whose ambition helped that listing stand out from all the rest.

Airbnb started as a website for renting out an air mattress in San Francisco. Today it is a much different story. In 2020, Airbnb was valued at 75 billion U.S. dollars—more than Marriott and Hilton hotels combined. In total, Airbnb has about 4 million hosts, and Jennifer Ascani, a Michigan native, plans on being one of them soon.

Jennifer’s current project—the Pinecrest Point A-Frame—is still under construction, but when it’s done, it will be one of the more unique rental properties in East Lansing, Michigan. We were curious about Jennifer’s project and story, so we got in touch and asked a few questions.

What Inspired the Design of Your Home?

My dad is from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both of my aunts who live there built log cabins—two on the shore of Lake Michigamme and one tucked in the woods of Negaunee. We would visit, at the very least, every summer and winter. Staying at “camp” and the cabin was like being transported to this amazing world—a world that was not my everyday normal growing up in a suburb of Lansing. Going up north was this beautiful experience, an amazing adventure.

Tell Us a Little About the Building Process

We were so blessed to find our builder (Bruce Davis, Luxe Development Group) who knew how traditional A-frames were constructed. We had to make some tweaks because of current building codes—like using LVL lumber—but all-in-all, I’m pleased with the construction. It was a huge moment when the construction crew “raised the A’s”—it felt like a modern barn raising!

From the time I was a little girl, I always wanted a cabin. Deep down, I wanted an everyday life like the one I got to experience while “on vacation.”

Jennifer Ascani, Owner of Pinecrest Point A-Frame

Why Do You Think People Are Looking for Home Designs That Are Unique and Different from Traditional Home Designs?

I think most people, when they come home or go on vacation, they just want different—a different feel, a different view. They want to experience something that is beautiful and well kept. Simple, yet intriguing. And memorable. McMansions were a huge goal for many people for many years, which I never really understood.

What Makes Your Home Unique and Different?

Our A-frame is based on a vintage ‘60s plan by Western Wood Products Associated out of Portland, Oregon. It’s large for an A-frame (around 1,400 square feet), yet very small compared to an average American home. The windows are a huge “wow” factor, as well as the view from the loft. The view of the trees or the lake, the sunrise or sunset, nature coming into your home—it brings a calming and rejuvenating feeling to your soul. That feeling of escaping the grind of everyday life and being able to fix your eyes on natural beauty does wondrous things to and for a person. We spend most of our time outside of work in our home so I believe it should be a space that captivates us.

One of the biggest struggles I had was in deciding on the exterior. We wanted it to be in harmony with nature, but still have a retro “pop.” I really wanted raw cedar board and batten, but I knew the upkeep was going to be a nightmare and that there could always be the possibility of mold from water damage. My builder actually suggested Quality Edge TruCedar®. It was the perfect solution, and I am absolutely in love with the Mountain Laurel green color we picked out. It gives the illusion of painted wood without the upkeep, but still has that 60’s rustic cabin vibe.

Why Build an A-Frame?

A-frame homes are some of the most popular destinations on Airbnb. People love staying in them—and there are plenty of reasons why more people are building them:

  • The minimalist structure–free from complicated roof lines–is fairly simple to build, providing a great bang for the buck.
  • A-frames—even ones near urban settings—have that rustic feel that is becoming sought out more and more.
  • The unique frame prevents snow buildup with one of the most affordable and effective roof systems for heavy snow loads.

Why Do You Think Potential Renters Are Willing to Stay in Homes That Are New and Different?

I think renters want to escape the monotony of their everyday life. There is a huge yearning for something that is new and different. Our soul gets excited to break the mold and get out of the box. Adventure time seems so limited nowadays with 40+ hour work weeks, smart phones, and wireless internet, where we are always accessible, always on always working. People want to escape what is normal for them and stay somewhere new and different. Normal is not something people want for their very limited time for vacations and adventures.

That feeling of escaping the grind of everyday life and being able to fix your eyes on natural beauty does wondrous things to and for a person.

Interested in seeing the Pinecrest Point A-Frame as it gets built? Just follow @pinecrest.point.aframe on Instagram.

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