The seed that led to Alex Ryden’s business was the parties he started hosting in 2016 at the house he recently had purchased in Jefferson Park.
The idea was that the parties would lead to more sales of Ryden’s line of duffle bags and backpacks, branded Age Carriers.
That product line is still running. But Ryden said he also noticed that his visitors were asking about the cool furniture and other decor in his house.
He started inviting other Denver artists, woodworkers and makers to display their products at his home and getting visitors to buy their products. That’s when the idea for Guest House started to snowball.
Ryden — whose home was not for sale — saw a huge opportunity to work with real estate agents, filling the homes they were marketing with furniture and decorations from local Denver makers that potential homebuyers could purchase on the spot.
“There’s this need for higher-quality staging,” Ryden, 30, said. “What if we stage homes with local makers and this contemporary, fresh approach to staging?”
Ryden launched his company Guest House two years ago, with quite the desirable listing: He staged a condo in the Denver Four Seasons tower, listed by Slate Real Estate Advisors. Ryden said a buyer put an offer in within 20 minutes of walking through the property.
“We worked with Slate then for the next eight months, pretty much exclusively,” Ryden said. “We turned an open house into an open store.”
Now in Boulder
A month ago, Guest House expanded to staging homes in Boulder.
“People are contacting us to do jobs out there, and they love the model,” Ryden said. “We built this business as an interesting way to feature local makers.”
This time last year, Ryden said the startup was staging one home every two months. Currently, however, the company is up to nine concurrent listings in some of Denver’s most popular neighborhoods.
In each home, guests get a price sheet for all the items in the home. If they’re interested in purchasing a particular piece, they can visit Guest House’s website and buy it; Guest House then delivers the piece to their home for free. Ryden declined to comment on the percentage Guest House receives from each purchase from the homes.
“We want to make sure we get the maker as much as we can,” he said. “Our percentages are very pro-maker.”
Ryden said Guest House charges real estate companies market price for staging. He said Guest House typically sells between 20 and 30 percent of the products displayed in a home.
“We’re hoping to increase that number as we get more awareness,” Ryden said. “Our goal is to help these makers sell. We’re just very passionate about everyone making these amazing pieces.”
Real estate companies Guest House has worked include MileHiModern, LIV Sotheby’s, Compass and Kentwood. Some of the local makers Guest House displays include q | co Design, Denver Modern, Mortar & Stone and Housefish.
“I would like to grow it to be the best solution for staging in Denver and Boulder over the next year,” Ryden said. “After that, the goal is to expand the market.”
Guest House has four part-time designers and photographers.
Guest House may expand into the short-term rental market, where the company will operate an Airbnb that includes furniture and art that can be purchased.
Ryden graduated from UC Santa Barbara and moved to Denver eight years ago.