There is no better way to introduce you to Marcella Lentz-Pope’s amazing home than by its name: The Funky Loft. Every nook and cranny of Marcella’s Brooklyn 1,000 sq. ft. Airbnb loft is stocked with a quirky vintage find, from old-school wallpaper to unique cabinet hardware to the portraits hanging above the piano (with an amazing rescue story). Marcella crafted a space that’s completely her own and has worked to make it accessible and welcoming to anyone passing through. Read on for her heart for hospitality, how she finds just the right piece for every shelf and crevice, and just where she found that piano.
What was your first job and how did you land it?
When I was six or seven I auditioned and booked a voiceover for an Acura commercial. All I said was “follow me” in a whisper.
How did you end up running one of the world’s most popular Airbnbs?
I think I have a very unique style and design aesthetic that attracts people who want to have a different experience than they would have at a hotel or “normal” apartment. I think a lot of people want to see what it’s like to have a totally different and foreign way of life when they’re traveling. I personally would love to stay in a treehouse or dome or old castle when I’m traveling, something that I would never get to experience otherwise.
How would you describe your design style?
Funky, eclectic, a little old, a little new, and lots of plants.
We love love love these colorful and eclectic pieces — where do you get your favorite decor accents (like that piano!)?
I actually found the piano on the street in my neighborhood! There were a couple guys with a truck next to it so I asked if they’d help me get it home, and 30 minutes later I had a free piano! I get most of my pieces from thrift/antique stores, Craigslist, and Etsy. I like digging through and hunting for treasure. Always have.
What are your go-to shops for furniture?
I always check Craigslist first. It’s local, you can haggle the price, and get it instantly instead of waiting weeks for shipping. I then check out some local thrift stores in Brooklyn that I love. I’m also really liking Urban Outfitters’s new home styles. They’ve changed a lot over the past few years, and you don’t have to be a college student to shop there anymore.
What led you to Brooklyn as your next Airbnb location? How has it been different from LA?
I was born and raised in LA and had never lived anywhere else, so it was time for a shift for me personally. I had always wanted to live in NY “someday” and thought why not now? And since NY is just as popular for travelers as LA, it was an easy transition. The difference really is that now I’m living in a home I built (so I take a little more pride in it) and guests don’t need to rent a car to get around.
You had some challenges finding just the right landlord/apartment combo to let you live out this creative dream — how did you get through that? Did you encounter any other challenges while trying to decorate your space?
It was a bit of a struggle but required more patience than anything else. It took about three months searching on Craigslist and touring potential spaces. But I wasn’t in a rush and had told myself it was more important to find the perfect space/situation than to hurry into a bad one. When I first saw the photo of my loft, it was one big open studio with giant ceilings, original brick, and amazing light. It was very empty and was screaming for something to be done to it.
There were definitely some hiccups along the way and design changes. One of them was our accent wall that is now the vintage wallpaper with cherries. I had first used chalkboard black paint on the entire wall and was trying to replicate the same giant chalkboard wall I had in my LA loft. But it just didn’t work. It was too dark and didn’t fit with the rest of the space. And that’s when I realized I had to stop trying to make it exactly like my old loft, and that this loft was different and special in its own way. And so started my obsession with wallpaper.
This loft is massive. Besides putting up physical walls, what did you do to make it feel so cozy and homey, rather than overly-spacious?
I think that’s where my funky style comes in. I’ve never been a fan of modern, sleek, sharp design, and the loft had a bit of that going on. So with my vintage furniture and bright colors, it softened it all. I also like keeping it fun. The Coca-Cola fridge and swing add a playful element that I think relaxes people and makes it all casual. Add in a ton of plants and it instantly feels more natural than human-made.
We’re so into that wallpaper behind the piano. How did you choose it, and what advice would you have for those of us bold enough to branch into wallpapering a wall?
After the chalkboard wall failed miserably, I tried thinking of what colors to paint it, but it just seemed too big of a wall to be one tone. It needed texture, and wallpaper instantly does that. Whenever I’m looking for anything new, I always start with vintage options. If I can’t find something vintage I then look for new. I really try to avoid buying new. So I went to Etsy and searched “Vintage Wallpaper.” There are tons of great options, but because they’re vintage, a lot of them only have a few feet of paper. I kept falling in love with various designs and then would read they only had five feet in stock. Finally, I found the cherries and it had the exact amount to cover the wall perfectly!
I would recommend sticking to an accent wall only or a small room to do all walls. Because it’s so bold, you don’t want it to be the only thing people can see.
What feeling or atmosphere were you trying to evoke when you were decorating this space?
A fun place to be that’s comfortable and different. I get inspiration from people’s homes that aren’t like anyone else’s, and I’d like to think mine isn’t like anyone else’s either. I love seeing people’s faces when they first walk into the loft. When they leave, they tell me every day they found something new that they hadn’t noticed before.
How did you create a space that was all your own but also accessible enough for others to come and stay?
I think the biggest thing is just being a person that is okay with sharing your space. How I live is definitely not for everyone. A lot of my friends would never be okay with sharing their home with other people and don’t understand how I do it. But I’ve always been a pretty open person, and honestly, what’s the point of having such a cool home if others never get to see it or experience it? I have my private room and guests have theirs. We can all escape and not be bothered and if we want to have a conversation with someone who is from a completely different culture than ours, you just go down to the living room.
A big tip though is I always have music playing on our big speakers if I’m home. I’ll play classics (Motown, 60s, 70s, Bowie, Bill Withers, etc…) music that everyone loves and wouldn’t bother others. It sets a mood that lets people know it’s okay to hang out, you’re not bothering anyone, and you don’t need to try and be quiet for others.
Which part of The Funky Loft are you the proudest of or spend the most time in?
Other than just being proud of the whole space I built, that’s a hard one because it changes almost weekly. As soon as I get a new piece or finish a new project, that area becomes my favorite. Right now the Backpackers Dream Room is my favorite because I just added rainbow twinkle lights on the ceiling and the room is so fun now! But for a while, it was the bathroom, which was a really fun project. And now I’m working on The Room with a View and redecorating it… So I’m pretty sure I will be most proud of that in a month or so.
Is there a spot in the loft that is most “you”?
Honestly, the entire loft is me. But my room is a bit more personal I guess. I have a few framed photos of my parents as well as all of my books. I like to call it my attic room because when I was a kid I dreamed of having an attic room. So being up top with a skylight over my bed and a slanted ceiling is living out my childhood fantasy.
What advice would you have for women looking to open their own bed and breakfast (alternate question: are you Lorelai Gilmore)?
Ha! I’m totally going to start saying that to my friends! And I’d say start small. First just rent out an extra bedroom that you have. You’ll get an idea of what it’s like to be a host and the best way to learn is to do. Our entire set up and guidelines are based on experiences we’ve had and learned from. And if you can offer something to guests that others can’t, there will for sure be interest. Don’t be scared to be different and “you;” most people are looking to stay somewhere that is unlike their own home or any place they’ve never been. The weirder the better! At least when I’m searching for a place to stay.
What advice would you have for your younger self?
Don’t get comfortable (for too long). I got too comfortable being in LA around my friends and family and too used to my way of life that I stopped trying to better myself or even work at something. And don’t rely on anyone else to further your career but you. Take your work and your life into your own hands. I so wish I had my wake-up call years earlier than I did.
Marcella Lentz-Pope is The Everygirl…
The home essential you can’t live without? String Edison Lights (I’m all about good lighting to make a space).
Guilty pleasure? Bad (but oh so good) romantic comedies.
Last item you splurged on? I needed a new toaster (and by new I mean vintage) and I found two vintage ones and couldn’t pick which so I bought both :/
Last show you binged? Handmaid’s Tale and New Girl!
Favorite room in your home? Don’t make me choose! But I guess the living room/kitchen area.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
Diane Keaton. There are so many women I admire and who inspire me, but I’ve probably had a connection (one way, of course) with Diane the longest. I’ve admired her style and how brave she is since I was a young girl. I loved seeing her going against the norm of what a woman should look like. And I enjoy all of her films. And honestly, I just feel like we would be really good friends. I feel like we would never stop cackling at each other’s jokes. Not laughing, cackling. I want to cackle with Diane Keaton. That would be wonderful.