Caroline and Mike Parrish built an underground Airbnb that features a 150-year-old door from Belgium.
90% of the property—called “Dragon’s Knoll”—is built into the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina.
Their company, Treehouses of Serenity, features several unique Airbnb properties.
Mike and Caroline Parrish founded a vacation treehouse community in Asheville, North Carolina.
Along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina sits Treehouses of Serenity, a community of unique homes built by Mike, 65, and Caroline, 46, Parrish. The couple has seven rental properties so far, including two underground homes: Alchemy – which has a 12-foot slide – and Dragon’s Knoll.
Caroline told Insider that Mike’s lifelong love of fantasy inspired Dragon’s Knoll design and aesthetic.
“One of his dreams was to have an underground house. I’m like, ‘Have lost your mind?'” she said. “But he obviously talked me into it, and I’m glad he did.”
90% of Dragon’s Knoll is built into the ground, meaning guests can experience the area’s natural beauty from the comfort of a fully-furnished home.
The Parrishes began building Dragon’s Knoll in June 2019 before opening it up for business in April 2020.
The Parrishes welcomed guests into Dragon’s Knoll in April 2020 but shut down for six weeks as the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic caused many industries to falter – like traditional hotels – Caroline said their business thrived after reopening in May 2020.
“Our situation is much different than that of a hotel,” Caroline said. “All of our properties are on the same piece of land, but you are separated. So families could come and get outside of the four walls of their house, but they could still quarantine with their family.”
Caroline said it took around eight months to build Dragon’s Knoll, costing between $275,000 and $300,000.
As of Wednesday, the property is available to rent on Airbnb for $364 a night.
According to Caroline, building an underground home is like building a base.
Caroline explained to Insider that they began by digging a large hole in the mountainside.
“We dug out a hole from the side of the mountain, poured a concrete slab, and then built block walls, just like you would a basement,” she said. Caroline said they then added a metal layer atop the roof before pouring concrete to seal the structure.
“Once all of that was dried, cured, and waterproofed, we just took the dirt and covered it back up,” Caroline said.
They built Dragon’s Knoll around the mountain’s rocky terrain, which caused some problems along the way.
Caroline told Insider they tweaked the home’s design plan four to five times because of the mountainside’s landscape.
“We started digging where we wanted the house to be, and ran into a huge piece of granite,” Caroline said. “The only way to move that huge rock would be to blast it out, and of course, we didn’t want to do that.”
Instead, the couple decided to work with the land – not against it. They scrapped plans for an entrance foyer, moved the bathroom to the old foyer space, and enlarged the living room.
“Once we figured out that we weren’t going past this rock, then we had to look at the house design and change it a little bit because we weren’t going any further,” she said.
The Parrishes found the eye-catching front door at an antique shop in North Carolina for around $1,200.
The Parrishes originally bought a sliding glass door for the main entrance but changed plans when a group of bears knocked it over into a “gazillion pieces” one night.
“I found the current door at the Tobacco Barn, a huge antique store here in town,” Caroline said, adding that she spoke to the store owner for details. “He said that he got the door from Belgium and that it was 150 years old.”
Mike, Caroline, and her mother spent three weeks removing several layers of paint off the door and refurbishing it with new glass. However, they preserved the broad iron bar and intricate woodwork on the door.
The front door leads to the living room, where guests will still feel like they’re underground while enjoying the comfy space.
When guests walk through the front door, they’ll find the living room is painted to mimic nature.
“We want in this house for it to feel like you’re underground, but that you are not claustrophobically underground,” Caroline said of the 800-sq-ft home. She and her family created the speckled, foliage-inspired wall designs using a feather brush throughout the home.
“We also brought some of the rock from the outside into the house to keep the design cohesive,” Caroline added.
The living room has seating areas, a TV, a fireplace, and one of two beds. Guests can also find the bathroom on the left side of the living room. The house has full amenities, except for an oven, but the Parrishes provide a hot plate for guests.
The kitchen shares the same space as the living room.
The home’s kitchen was designed with multi-colored stone, patterned tiles, and lots of wood. The wood features extend from the ceiling all the way down to the cabinets, floor, and nearby table. The website said the kitchen includes a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, electric grill, pots, utensils, glassware, and other helpful items to make it easier on guests.
A wooden pocket door leads guests from the living room to the master bedroom.
Guests can find the master bedroom on the right side of the house and enter through a sliding dark wooden pocket door.
Inside the master bedroom, guests are met with hanging side tables and wood-themed features.
Like the rest of the home, the master bedroom has wood floors and ceilings paired with natural elements. The walnut bed frame is coupled with an accent wall made of poplar bark panels.
“We try to make every detail something that you are not necessarily going to have at your own home or see somewhere else,” Caroline said. The master bedroom also has hanging side tables and a hanging light fixture over the bed.
A separate wooden side door visible from the outside also leads to the master bedroom.
The wooden door, complete with a tree design, was built by a local man named John, whom Mike met at a woodworking group. Caroline said John made the door from scratch and gave it to them for free as long as they paid for materials.
“He did everything and the house would not have been right without it,” Caroline said. “His work is flawless.”
There’s an outdoor area with seating and a fire pit atop the roof.
Guests at Dragon’s Knoll spend time outside the home atop the home’s roof, where a fire pit invites guests to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Caroline said a carved dragon’s head on the roof inspires most guests to stop and take photos.
Guests left raving reviews for Dragon’s Knoll on Airbnb, where it has a 4.99 rating.
One guest who visited Dragon’s Knoll this August called it “gorgeous.”
“We LOVED staying here, it was everything we hoped it would be, and then some. Lots of thoughtful touches throughout the house, gorgeous views outside, and just absolutely charming. We would highly recommend it, and hope to return soon,” they wrote.
Another wrote: “Booked 6 months in advance and the wait was worth every minute! Caroline and Mike have created a magical haven of treehouses that provide a feeling of security and remoteness at the same time.”
The positive reviews are a relief for the couple, who wondered if guests would truly feel like they’re living underground. Fortunately, lots of guests staying in other Treehouses of Serenity properties are interested in Dragon’s Knoll and often don’t even realize it’s there.
“Towards the end of their stay, guests will say, ‘we really would like to see Dragon’s Knoll, but is it somewhere else,'” Carolina said of guests. “I say, ‘no, you’ve driven past it the whole time you’ve been here.'”
You can learn more about “Alchemy” on Treehouses of Serenity or Airbnb.
Read the original article on Insider