Career

Meet Kristie Wolfe, The Airbnb Queen, Who’s Built Everything From A Hobbit Hole To A Potato Vacation Stay

By Keelia Clarkson··  6 min read
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kristie wolfe airbnb

You’ve stayed at an Airbnb before, but have you stayed at one of Kristie Wolfe’s one-of-a-kind vacation spots?

Kristie Wolfe has certainly made a name for herself in Airbnb circles, thanks to the incredibly unique Airbnb escapes she hosts – all of which she actually designs and builds herself. 

Starting Small with a Tiny Home

About 10 years ago, Kristie Wolfe was a high school dropout working at a potato factory in her home state of Idaho. She worked the “worst job at the facility” (unloading sacks of potatoes still dirty from the fields) for 14 hours a day – a job she found to be “meditative.”

Then, around 2010, the 27-year-old Wolfe learned about the tiny house movement and decided to build a tiny house for herself, as more of a social experiment than anything else, looking to lead a simpler life for about a year.

She saved up money from her $13/hour potato factory job, and bought a used trailer and ¾ of an acre of land on Craigslist on the outskirts of Boise – for a total of $5,300. 

With the help of her mom and her mom’s minivan, Wolfe built her 97-sq.-ft. tiny home for $3,000. Her living costs – being off-grid and without a mortgage – were low.

“The house was basically a shed on wheels,” Wolfe said. “But living without stuff just felt great to me.”

Wolfe’s experience with creating and building goes way back to her childhood, inspired by her own mother’s attempts to give her family bigger, nicer homes, despite their tight budget.

“She was always trying to make these crummy little houses we could afford fit our big family,” Wolfe said. “It was really interesting to see how she’d figure things out. She didn’t have internet. There was no Home Depot in our town. She just tried things and learned on her own.” 

Wolfe often found herself joining in on her mother’s remodeling projects. After she crafted her own tiny house in 2011, Wolfe realized she could use her knowledge of building as a way of making a living.

From Factory Worker to Airbnb Queen

In 2013, Wolfe was again looking at Craigslist for cheap land, and saw a ½ acre lot in a less-than-ideal location in Hawaii. But the seller was motivated to get rid of the land, and Wolfe was able to negotiate a payment plan for the property.

She and her mom, who often helps her with her construction projects, boarded a plane to Hawaii to inspect the property. The less-than-ideal location was in a less-than-ideal state: the road was overgrown, and it was littered with abandoned cars.

In 2 months, Wolfe and her mom cleaned up the property and built a 230-sq.-ft tiny treehouse. It cost $11,000 to build – almost every cent to Wolfe’s name. The property became available on Airbnb in 2014 and was booked out almost immediately. In fact, Wolfe recouped her building costs in less than 3 months! (You can book the 1 bed/1 bath Big Island Treehouse here.)

 

The Big Island Treehouse was a success, and since then, Wolfe has gone on to craft a host memorable of Airbnbs, which her website characterizes as “properties that live in your imagination.” Most of her properties are built by herself and her mom in off-grid locations. 

“I decided to build properties so cool that people would come to me,” Wolfe said. “The house itself – not the location – would be the destination.

Wolfe also offers “Superhost School” courses that teach new Airbnb hosts how to create beautiful spaces, generate passive income, satisfy guests’ needs, and become a successful host, so it’s safe to say that her vacation spots are quite the experience.

Wolfe’s next endeavor was a hobbit hole themed vacation stay in Orondo, Washington. This adorable little hobbit hole instantly makes you feel at home with its round, green front door, inspired by The Lord of the Rings. The property boasts six acres of land, so there’s plenty of space to go for a stroll and take in the incredible views. Plus Wolfe bought 40 acres nearby with the plan to make a whole hobbit village! (You can book the 1 bed/1 bath Hobbit Inn here.)

Once the Hobbit Inn was open for business, Wolfe found an old fire lookout tower for sale in Fernwood, Idaho. Lookout towers were originally built to survey forest fires, but have become obsolete, and hence, rare. In two months, Wolfe restored the tower to it’s original state, adding a wood-burning stove and vintage kitchen utensils. She converted a shed on the property into a sauna and bucket shower.

This breathtaking stay has windows all around, creating a “wide-open” feeling, all while staying cozy inside. Sitting on 13 acres of land, there’s a little hike up to get to the space, and there’s no cell reception either, making it a true escape from the outside world. (You can book the 1 bed/1 outhouse Crystal Peak Lookout here.)

Wolfe’s next project was a little less romantic – a potato-shaped vacation stay – but, hey, it was free! 

Wolfe had a past connection with the Idaho Potato Commission, which owned a PR truck with a giant, 6-ton concrete potato mounted on the back. (A Russet Burbank potato, if you must know.) When the Commission decided to upgrade to a fiberglass potato, Wolfe asked what they were going to do with the concrete one. 

“I sent them a message like, ‘Hey, what’s the plan with that old potato?’” says Wolfe. “They had no idea what to do with it, and they actually ended up gifting it to me.”

So in 2019, the Commission used a crane to transfer the 28-foot-long potato to Wolfe’s land. It created so much media buzz that there was an international demand for booking the Airbnb before it was even renovated! Wolfe had to hollow out the potato, finish the walls and install ventilation, plumbing, and electricity (not to mention a bathroom). For good measure, Wolfe added a Jersey cow named Dolly to the property. (You can book the 1 bed/1 bath Big Idaho Potato Hotel here.)

What’s Next for Kristie Wolfe?

With four successful Airbnb properties under her belt, you’d think Wolfe would call it quits – but she hasn’t. Wolfe considers herself to be a “full-time builder,” and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I really live for that state of flow, where you forget to eat and don’t really need anything,” Wolfe said. “You’re just consumed by the creative process and the problem-solving. It’s like meditation.”

“If you can build,” she added, “you’ll always be okay.’”

Her current project is a lakeside property in Salmon, Idaho, which she is renovating into a shipwreck house.

It’s not open for business yet, but it’s sure to be instantly booked as soon as it is!

Closing Thoughts

So next time you’re thinking of booking a stay at an Airbnb, why not look at one of Kristie Wolfe’s?

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