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Girl... I'm not gonna do it...


I know that it's been awhile since I released a post, and I’m sorry for that, but it’s for good reason. I've been making one of my very own dreams come true since Christmas Time. You see, I've spent most of my life helping other people meet their goals or get their business on its feet. After a year in counseling I have learned that I have no problem being a support system for everyone else, but I’ve always had a huge problem believing that I could make my own dreams a reality. The time had come for me to support myself the way I would everyone else. My family was behind me. My parents, my kids, my brother and sisters, and so were my close friends. It was time for me to build MY dream. So I did. (And all of these people helped me in some way). 

An opportunity presented itself in December to take over a leased space that was already functioning as an Airbnb for many years but to my suprise most of the people that I told had no idea that we had such a place in Historic Downtown Amherst. This meant that either we had no need for such a business in that location or the previous owners didn’t advertise enough to really get the word out there. Let me tell you what, I was equal parts excited and scared to death at the opportunity, almost to the point of paralyzation. 

I have stayed in many airbnb’s over the years and am good at critiquing them as a designer and a guest. I’ve spent my career solving problems with space planning and color theory and finishes- but every single project had a client that had a list of requirements to meet. Other than my own home, I’ve never had free creative reign and full control of the budget. This was the most exciting and scary part for me. Every decision was on me, and so was the budget. And boy, oh boy, when I have some inspiration, I sure do love to shop! 

Do you know what my biggest fear was? It’s so laughable now that I don’t even want to tell you. My biggest fear was figuring out how to get it cleaned in between guests. Yes, you heard me. Getting it cleaned is what’s kept me from acting on my dream for years. I wasn’t afraid of the cost to furnish an apartment to sleep 4 people, I wasn’t afraid of the cost of rent every month, and I wasn’t afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get it booked. I was afraid of not being able to find someone that I could count on to clean it. Isn’t that ridiculous? But fear is a funny thing. That tiny little task seemed like a mountain in my mind, until it wasn’t anymore. You may be thinking, why don’t you just clean it yourself? The answer to that, in my mind was, how am I going to have it cleaned between 11:30 am and 3:30 the day of checkout, because I’m already at work. I quickly realized while having real discussions about a real place to bring this dream to life, I knew a few great women who own cleaning companies, and in a pinch my mom or sister would jump in if I needed help. 

Fear conquered. 

Lease signed, 

shopping started. 

And off I went! 

The space planning was the biggest change that I made to the existing space. I didn’t believe the apartment style space was being used to its full potential based on the existing layout and I knew I could make it a little more comfortable. The first thing to change, thanks to the wonderfully accommodating building owner, was an odd entry into the suite’s “kitchenette” was moved so that the only way to access it was from inside the suite. You see, in the years before, guests would have to walk out of the suite into the common hallway, and then into a locked kitchen door. Because of this oddity, I found out from the neighboring business that there had been prior issues with guests hanging out in the common hallway in only their undies or pj’s while drinking their morning coffee, as client’s walked past the suite into the next business. Awkward! Luckily it was easily remedied by moving the suite’s entry door out enough to cut out an opening inside the suite. Problem solved. 

While the building owner and his team worked on that, I started in the bedroom and living room with carpet shampooing and paint. I got the keys on January 3rd, 2024 and my goal was to be rent ready by my first booking of February 16th. My mom was the absolute all-star that worked on the suite while I was in the middle of workdays. She painted her ass off all day and then I would come in for the second shift around 4-4:30pm to take over while she headed home. I could not have kept on schedule without her. Luckily my boss knew I had this dream and he was okay with me flexing my work time to make it happen. (Literally Best Boss Ever). He is actually very proud of me. I worked every night until 9:30 or 10pm (because I’m old now and couldn’t last any longer), and weekends with the exception of wrestling matches during my son’s Senior season. And I remember two specific weekdays when exhaustion took over and I was asleep by 5pm. I also remember feeling the overwhelming guilt and fear of falling behind schedule, because I took those two nights off. 

I used a dark green in the living room. It’s a bit of an homage to the school colors here in Amherst, Ohio. We are Green and Gold through and through. So the walls are green in the living room, and I used touches of gold in the primary bedroom. It’s classy, not scholastic like a locker room. That was important to me. I’m a graduate of Amherst High School and I’ve raised my kids here too. We are all green and gold. It’s a little part of who we are. The funny thing about using dark green (and then a teal blue color in the library) was my mom’s reaction when she started to paint. She put one swipe on the wall and looked at me with complete concern. “Are you sure this is the color you want? It’s pretty dark. I think it will make it feel small. Are you 100% sure about this?” Can I just tell you, if I had a dollar for everytime someone has second guessed my choices throughout my career, I’d be sleeping in every morning by now because work wouldn’t be a necessity! I am one of those lucky people that can see rooms or sometimes entire places finished in my mind before a project even starts. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I went for it. 

Sometimes choosing the exact shades is challenging for me, because I love color in general- so having to select only one is like torture. But once the creative wheels start turning, that’s it. I knew what furniture I wanted, what decorations, everything. Shopping was fun because I had a plan (with drawings and renderings) and in the beginning, I was finding deal after deal after deal! It was like God was saying to me “Girl, I’ve been telling you to do this for a long time, and now that you trust ME, I’m going to show you you’re on the right path”. I had little signs, like the large train art that I wanted for the living room was marked $150. When I checked out, it rang-up on sale for $75! I was lucky enough to get an employee discount on the queen size mattress (25% off) and I’m telling you, it is divine. I want one for my own bed, but I have to stop spending money for a little while (lol). I found super soft throw blankets for under $10, the library bookshelves for $50 on facebook marketplace and don’t even get me started on Kohl’s cash for sheets and pillow cases. Just tiny little affirmations that, yes, this is the right path. This is what you are meant to do. Combine my love of design and comfort and share it with others in a way that validates my talent for them both, but also creates another little stream of income and wetted my appetite for more. I have my eye on little lake town roadside motels now, or maybe an entire Inn… who knows?

As I got towards the end of setting up the airbnb, it started really hitting my savings account and my credit card balance and I started to get nervous. I felt like I was hemorrhaging money for a little while. More sheets, more pillow cases, cleaning supplies, coffee pods, snacks, more throw blankets (I couldn’t help myself -lol) But I planned for it. I knew it would take a few months to get the word out that I was open, and to take advantage of social media and other opportunities so that people would know Main Street Suites even exists. Now that it’s April and we’ve been open since February, we are booking up nicely. I have to tell you, it’s really fun to just be watching tv and all of a sudden get a message saying “booking confirmed”! Every single time it happens I say aloud “man, this is SO fun!” Because it really is - for me. And then I brag to my siblings that “someone else just booked the suite!” My niece and nephew want to live there, because it has cool bunk beds (they fight over the top bunk) and my daughter likes to stay there every time she comes home from Cincinnati. 

I stayed there one night before opening to be my own guest. Watched a movie, cuddled under some of the blankets, slept like a Queen on the mattress, had my morning coffee and got ready in the suite. I live 3 miles down the road, but there’s no better way to realize what you’ve missed than to experience the place like your guests will. Opening Main Street Suites has been a goal realized and a dream come true. 

It’s a place that makes you feel at home as soon as you arrive. It’s a small apartment style airbnb but the location couldn’t be any better. We are nestled on the second floor of the Main Street Marketplace building in Historic downtown Amherst. In my building alone, besides my suite, is D’Tuttanelli’s Pizza (so freakin’ good), The Beauty Loft Salon, Hoisting Steel Gym (free gym for my guests while they stay), and an Energy/Reike Practitioner! Then, if you want to walk across the street, there are a bunch of local restaurants, pubs, boutiques for shopping, a small town bowling alley, movie theater, and a golf simulator! Our local library is close by as well and so is our very own Sandstone Coffee Shop. As you walk through town, our Veteran’s Murals are a great place to stop and reflect. Depending on the day of the week, we have a few places with live music too! It’s a great, safe, walkable historic downtown district great for couples, ladies weekends, and families. Lake Erie is only 7 miles away, Cedar Point is 30 minutes West and Downtown Cleveland is 30 minutes East. Oberlin College and Art Museum are the next town south of us, 10 minute drive. There are lots of reasons to visit my hometown and now I have a great little place to offer guests that want to. 

Main Street Suites is a project that inspired me to be creative and take risks. It forced me to really use the space to the best of my ability, and it fulfilled the conquering of a fear that I’ve let keep me down for much of my life. I feel like I can do anything now. 

Ok. That’s enough tooting my own horn for now. I’m just really proud of the space and love the reviews from people staying or just touring it so far. If anything, I hope after reading this, you take a chance on yourself too. Make a plan, follow your gut, and JUMP. Don’t wait until you’re in your mid 40’s like I did. 

Life is short, live it now. 

And while you do, I hope that you are surrounded by love and comfort. - Lis


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