• Jody Carmichael is a baker turned interior designer in the beach town of Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • Carmichael, who started out decorating her own Airbnb condo, has upgraded 20 vacation rentals.
  • She broke down four secrets to a five-star listing, from window treatments to pillow selection.

Jody Carmichael, a decorator in North Carolina, used to own a bakery. Now she adds flourishes to living rooms instead of making wedding cakes.

Carmichael has designed and furnished nearly 20 Airbnbs for clients in her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, a beachy retreat 90 minutes north of Myrtle Beach. 

There are 1,500 short-term rentals in the Wilmington area, up from 1,100 at the same time last year, according to the industry data firm AirDNA. The influx of Airbnb hosts isn’t limited to Wilmington: Available listings hit a record high of 1.5 million this year, according to AirDNA.

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Airbnb designer Jody Carmichael.

Jody Carmichael


Carmichael, 41, said she wanted to warn the flood of rookie hosts across the country against common decorating oversights and mistakes.   

Her experience with Airbnbs started in 2017, when she revamped a condo she and her husband bought while their house was being renovated. After moving back to their house, they listed it on the short-term-rental platform. 

Carmichael previously worked as an interior designer at Ethan Allen for five years. She approached the designing of Airbnbs like any other home, unlike the purely economical approach she’d seen other hosts take.

Instead of finding the cheapest products, she sought out a quality mattress and high-end bedding. It’s the main principle that still guides her projects.

“I really am trying to create a space that I would want to live in,” she told Insider. “Everything is something that I would feel comfortable in myself.” 

It’s been a slow summer for many Airbnb hosts: Booking rates have fallen from historic highs, and analysts for the short-term-rental market predict hosts will have to contend with a more competitive landscape. 

Investing in good design helps short-term rentals weather downturns and offseasons, Carmichael said. When prices get slashed everywhere, she added, the nicest units stand out.

Carmichael shared her four keys to a well-designed unit.

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