Joel lives in a small student apartment in Stockholm inside a single room he uses for everything.
“It’s been a long process, but thanks to my work team, we made a beautiful Airbnb. And frankly, it’s now become an essential part of our life to make sure Dan has the best healthcare options possible,” says Jarret.
Dan is a former firefighter, and he developed a brain tumour and complex nerve damage from toxic chemical exposure after volunteering on-site at the World Trade Centre on 9/11. Since then, he has suffered from debilitating cluster headaches and acute sensitivity to a range of environmental factors, such as changes in atmospheric pressure. Six months of the year, his health forces him to leave New York and move to Hawaii, where a community of Jarret’s old school friends become his makeshift family.
The cost of his healthcare, and the horror of his illness, have changed the course of Dan and Jarret’s life together. After grappling with their difficult circumstances, they found a solution that puts their home at the heart. Rather than renovate the whole building for themselves, as they had originally planned, they decided to transform two of the four floors into income-earners that keep them afloat.
Combining Jarret’s keen eye for unique finds and priceless artworks that others overlook, and Dan’s hobbies—he’s recently taken up ceramics, dried-flower arranging, and other creative outlets to help him heal—they’ve turned their first floor into a popular design property on Airbnb. It’s even special enough to have earned a place in the pages of Architectural Digest. The second floor is a long-term rental. Dan and Jarret live between the basement, which is currently under renovation, and the top
floor from where Jarret runs an international interior design firm and manages their joint properties.
You’d never guess that the charming brick building on a sunny, tree-lined block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, was a crack house when Jarret Yoshida and Dan Moynihan bought it almost 20 years ago. Today, an elegant slate area and a curated parade of potted plants guide visitors into an ornate foyer with geometric cornices, a framed gallery of eclectic artworks, and a landscape of colourful vintage furniture.
But none of the house’s floors, doors, or walls are original. Everything had to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch—and the work is still ongoing. It’s taken time for the ex-couple, who met in 2001 and bought the building together, to be able to finance all the transformations to the structure that have become necessary in the years since.
“This house was exceptionally affordable when we bought it. It was abandoned with no windows and no doors,” says Jarret, an Brooklyn brownstone interior designer born and raised in Hawaii. “Our plan was to slowly renovate it to be our own home using both of our incomes. But Dan’s illness made that impossible, so we’ve had to dramatically pivot.”
“I resisted for many years until I finally realized we needed to get this Airbnb income in and make this house happen,” Jarret recalls.
The cost of their life together is high. It includes Dan’s frequent travels back and forth between NYC and Hawaii, as well as rent in both states. But the income generated by Airbnb has finally enabled them to pursue the improvements they always hoped for: to make their home liveable for them both, and to ensure Dan has the care he needs.
From the beginning, a healthy home was a priority. Jarret struggles with seasonal affective disorder and needs sunlight to avoid lethargy and depression. Dan’s survival requires a litany of environmental modifications. They selected low-VOC paints for the walls and vinyl for all the floors. Both materials have limited to zero off-gassing. They avoided installing carpets or rugs throughout since the fibres can make it difficult for Dan to breathe. Rather than keeping their lighting decorative, they strategically installed lights with a certain temperature and colour to mimic the sun.
“Throughout the design of this house, we’ve found that we need to harmonise competing interests of health and money,” says Jarret. “But ultimately, health is not a negotiable factor for my clients or for me and Dan. There’s nothing you can do to replace your health. And once it’s gone, you’ll spend all your money trying to get it back.”