Stay at a 1950s-inspired restaurant at this Airbnb in Osage Beach
The home renovation process comes naturally to Trista Fenner and her husband, Derek, each with nearly a decade of experience in their hometown of Kansas City.
When the pandemic began to hit Missouri in March 2020, the Fenner family purchased a residence (which is also now listed on Airbnb) in the Lake of the Ozarks Tan-Tar-A Estates. They quickly fell in love with the house – so much so, in fact, that they decided to buy two other houses in the same cove to renovate. They bought one in March 2021 and another a month later. In October 2021, the Fenners listed their newly remodeled home on Airbnb as “Theme house», with rooms decorated according to the corresponding decades.
The 1950s dining room aesthetic of the kitchen and living room is the main attraction. Fenner spent time researching the decor’s history in the 1950s to ensure the design was as authentic as possible. Boomerang laminate countertops, bright red cabinetry sourced from a Las Vegas company, neon “Ozark Diner” sign, dining stools and chairs, checkerboard flooring, and thoughtful signage and decorations bring all in a seemingly effortless way. A Bluetooth-enabled jukebox, tucked into the corner of a pool table and dart board, is one of Fenner’s favorite things and kept them motivated by playing music matching the play’s decade on which they were working.
Other touches include an old-fashioned milkshake maker, a breakfast station with a waffle maker, and an authentic kitchen dining table.
“It was someone’s grandpa’s table that we bought from the Facebook Marketplace in Kansas City,” says Fenner. “It’s very heavy, so it’s very, very real.”
Before starting to fix the property, Fenner describes the house as looking like “a haunted house – it looked like it was about to collapse”. Vacant for at least 19 years, according to a neighbor, the house remained unlocked and was frequently visited by other area residents who needed updated parts, such as carpet strips, electrical parts and window air conditioners. “It was like something broke down at a neighbor’s, they would just come into the ‘parts shed’ and take it from there,” Fenner says.
With a total of five bedrooms, six beds, and three bathrooms, the former “room house” has come a long way. The 1960s bedroom, which Fenner calls “the Austin Powers bedroom,” has a circular bed frame, bright colors, and a groovy bathroom. (“Groovy” is literally written on the tile floor.) The 1970s bedroom uses a shag rug, orange and brown tones, and macrame decor.
Although all rooms will be renovated and furnished, the Fenners plan to transform the remaining three rooms in the remaining decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. The 1950s room, which is on the same floor as the kitchen and living room, will be inspired by old drive-in theaters, with a 1950s truck bed, murals and wall sconces that resemble loudspeakers. Neon lights, arcade machines and rock music will inspire the 1980s-themed arcade room, and the final room is inspired by a 1990s summer camp, complete with bunk beds, a tent and many games for children.
One of the main drivers for transforming the property into a Themehouse was to make it an attractive destination in the Ozarks, despite not being directly on the water. For the same reason, the Fenners have made changes so that guests have enough space to enjoy the outdoors. The house already had a balcony, but the Fenners added a large deck to the side of the house with plenty of room for a sectional, fire table and grill.
Themehouse guests have access to everything the Lake of the Ozarks has to offer. Community pools within Tan-Tar-A Estates are available during the summer months, and the nearby Margaritaville Resort offers many activities including an indoor water park, two golf courses, mini golf, rental a marina, horse riding, bowling, tennis and basketball courts, a video games room, restaurants and bars.
“Hopefully we can make it as authentic as possible and bring back memories of the past while creating new memories while they’re there,” Fenner says. “We love to travel and make memories ourselves, so that’s always been the goal with this place is to bring that experience to others.