Kensington Guest House provides alternative to having houseguests
By Margie M. Palmer
Those who live in, work in or frequent the Kensington neighborhood agree that the mid-city community is somewhat of a hidden gem, but the smaller-style construction design of many of the area’s homes sometimes makes it difficult for locals to accommodate houseguests.
But thanks to Rhianna and Reggie White, owners of Red Door Investment and Management, residents have a local housing option for short and long-term visitors: Kensington Guest House.
“I’d had the idea in the back of my head for years because this neighborhood has so many beautiful homes but there isn’t always room for people to come, stay and visit,” Rhianna White said. “That’s when I decided to start looking at properties, with the idea that if I found the right place I’d turn it into a guest house.”
Eventually she found the perfect location — a charming 1940s duplex in the heart of historic Kensington on Vista Street.
“I bought the property from this really cool older hippie couple who had a beehive, a garden and free-range chickens in the yard. It had a local reputation for being the chicken house, so I wanted to keep the chicken theme,” she said. “There is lots of chicken wire and ceramic chickens; it pays a nice homage to the house.”
In terms of renovations, those were minor, she said, noting that many of the original finishes were preserved. The original appliances were kept in the upstairs, two-bedroom unit and the original cast-iron bathtubs were kept in both apartments.
When the paint was touched and the properties were fully furnished, Kensington Guest House was officially born.
“The technical concept was to turn it into a vacation rental but I actually cater a lot to the local market; I don’t do any online advertising to people who are traveling on vacation. I advertise locally in Kensington and I get a lot of people who are guests of people who live locally,” Rhianna White said. “Sometimes that’s grandparents who are coming to visit their grandchildren and sometimes it is people who are remodeling their home and don’t want to stay in a hotel.”
For the Whites, it is all about being an asset to the neighborhood.
“It’s more like staying at a house than a hotel and we’re convenient because guests can be right down the street from anyone they’re visiting,” Rhianna White said. “I also purchased a couple of vintage Schwinn bicycles that are in the garage for people to use because it’s a nice way to see Kensington.”
Kensington Guest House is her favorite part of her business, she said, because she gets to meet so many different types of people. “I made so many random friends,” Rhianna said. “We’re pretty busy and it’s been a lot of fun.” For more information, visit red-sd.com.