Q & A with Superhost Natalie of La Casita Cacao

airbnb host host profile Jul 31, 2020

(video by Mizraim Soria)

I am SO excited to write this blog. Just GIDDY. 

For a while I've wanted to start a blog series profiling super awesome hosts, and I'm so excited to have found the perfect first house and host to kick off this series! 

Welcome to Quill Decor's Host Profiles

It's my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Superhost Natalie Cacao from La Casita Cacao in the dessert hills of Hesperia, California. She is so skilled at putting together a good color scheme that she carefully coordinated her very adorable family of 4 for this photo AND this picture also sums up the tight and well done color palette in her beautiful BNB. 

As if the yummy interiors and peaceful desert surroundings don't make you want to book a getaway immediately, there are also ALPACAS roaming freely outside the front door!

You guys. I can't even with alpacas. I feel super drawn to these goofy, fluffy somewhat mysterious and strange creatures. Sign. Me. UP! Not to mention the other gorgeous animals on this farm, and all of it's totally insta worthy glory. 

Please enjoy reading my interview with Natalie about her design inspiration, alpaca ownership, the farm experience she provides, and her general awesomeness. This mother of 2 is Superhost, a super wife, a podcast host, and just a super-badass lady that you'll want to learn more about. Let's dive in!

How did you and your husband, Selin, come to land in the California desert with a homestead and your two adorable kids?
In 2016 my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. We lived in the city, and our business was booming. (We own an interpreting agency, Focus Language International, providing interpreters for legal and medical organizations.) 
Once we found out about our baby-to-be, we just looked around and realized there wasn't enough space in L.A.. Selin and I grew up spending summers in El Salvador and Mexico respectively. We started reminiscing about going to our grandparents farms and how free and happy it felt there. We were able to take off our shoes and walk around in the mud, with no-one telling us not to. We wanted that for our family. 
So we started looking and found this 5 acre property. We started with one little pig, and now we have about 45 animals on the property: chickens, turkeys, roosters, alpacas, pigs, cows. It's been such an adventure to see how much our lives have changed. We traded in our suits-and-ties for boots and hats and wrestling with animals. 
And How did you end up becoming Airbnb Hosts?  
As a new mom, things felt a little lonely, so we started renting some rooms out in our home on Airbnb because we had plenty of space. Once our second child was born we had to pause on renting out our own house (because babies) and we decided to turn this ugly blue shed on our property into an self sustaining eco-friendly guest house that we call the Casita Cacao!
I love hosting. Hosting is an extension of my homemaking. I don't want to just have people come and go, I want them to be able to come in and experience the way we live.
We allow our guests to go into the coop, grab a fresh egg, make it for themselves. We often provide home raised bacon or sausage for our guests to cook for themselves for breakfast. It is such a privilege to share our lifestyle with other people. We are proof that it is 100% possible to live in a modern age but still get back to basics. There is something beautiful in a simple way of living. 
Are you a professional designer or just do it for fun? 
I think it’s important I start with this one cause I know nothing about design BUT I do know what I like! (I did think playing “designer” would be fun but after spending several hours trying to decide on a shade of white that changed very quickly!)
What was your design inspiration for this sweet little Airbnb? 
Our desert! There is a certain hour in the day where the sky turns white, the mountains black and a golden brown landscape surrounds us. It’s truly magical! I wanted to bring those natural elements into the casita. And since the shed already had original beams- it was easy to make that the wood focal point and just use white and black in everything else.
Could you share any design dilemmas you had? 
Yes, exposed plumbing and pipes! I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the “inner workings” of the tankless water heater right on display IN THE BEDROOM. It was the biggest challenge to find something big enough to cover it and would also be functional. (It now hides behind a clothes rack I use for blankets, robes, hangers etc...)
What was the hardest part about the decorating process for you?
Waiting! I was tempted to run to the store and “once and for all” finish decorating BUT I chose to slowly find and curate pieces I believed were beautiful. It took several months but now, every thing in the casita has a story I can proudly share. We can fill up a room with pretty things and call it a day...But I wanted to create a space where happy moments will always reside.

Can you tell us about one of your most fun purchase stories? 

I really wanted a cognac (or close to cognac) colored couch that was modern and most importantly that could also be used as a secondary sleeping space. Everywhere I looked online they were about $2,000 over my budget! And the ones that were within my budget were just not what I wanted! So, Instead of rushing and choosing something JUST because I had to...I decided to wait till the perfect couch came along.

And it did! One day I casually walked into my local thrift store and guess what was sitting there waiting for me? the perfect cognac colored couch that unfolds into the queen bed I was hoping for and all for a whooping $35.00! 

(OMG WHAT?! $35?! HOW THRILLING. 2nd hand is the WAY TO GO, guys! High Fives Natalie! 🙌)

What's something you would do differently next time around in a renovation? 

Answer: If I could do anything all over again it would be to include a linen closet in the layout! I went with something trendy (open closet) vs. practical and I regret it every time I have to carry fresh towels and linens into the casita from the main house.  
Can you describe what it's like from a guest's perspective to stay at your Casita? 
Guests wake up in the morning and the first thing they want to do is see the animals! They have the chance to join in on the first feed of the day. They also have the chance to eat some of the farm goods we raise! (when available) In the evening time guests love venturing out of the property and taking desert strolls. Then they can come back and unwind in the casita. We provide Bathrobes, slippers, personal care products and almost always a good bottle of wine! 


Do your guests usually interact closely with the Alpacas and other gorgeous animals? 
Yes! Our guest can hand feed the alpacas or walk into any of the coops and gather eggs. All animals are free range so it's super easy to bump into them. 
The casita sits right in the middle of the homestead so when guest come and stay they can tour the property at their own leisure...there's absolutely no added fee for that!
AND because I'm curious: Do the Alpacas like being sheared?! (I could ask one million  alpaca questions, but I'll spare everyone and stick to just this one. OMG, they're so dang cute.) 
They are actually made for cold weather so when the climate warms up and they have all that thick fiber- they're uncomfortable! So, as much as they hate being still and pinned down for shearing they do love the aftermath.  

Thank you Natalie and family for sharing your amazing shed turned 5 Star BNB with the world! You can book this beautiful Airbnb here, and follow along on instagram @lacasitacacao. 

P.S.- If you're hoping to learn more about how to design and furnish a show stopping and unique Short Term Rental, check out my e-course where I break down this daunting process into an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.

You can be the designer. I'll teach you how!

Happy Hosting Friends! 

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