Chic & Whimsical

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By Charlie Googe

Photos by Lindsay Pace Daffron

 Morgan Pennington used her creative outlook on life to design a chic mid-century modern AirBnB in the heart of Oxford. With some help from her mom and inspiration from her grandparents, it has become the perfect spot for newlyweds’ first night together or just a whimsical getaway.

Morgan Pennington left home on Mississippi’s coast in 2004 to attend the University of Mississippi. She graduated in 2009 with degrees in English and history. She then returned to the coast to teach, and later decided it was time to come back to Oxford in January 2010. She got a job at a local coffee shop and moved into a rental complex. When she heard her neighbor was moving out, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to rent the unit and begin a new project in August 2019. 

“I originally wanted it to be my own space to have to get away and write music. And if my friends needed a place to stay, they could come here. My family was a big part of it as well, so they would be able to come visit more often,” Pennington said. “This just turned into a project for me, I love designing things and being creative in that way.”

After a chat with the landlord, she was given free rein – she could renovate as she saw fit, and rent it out at the end. She decided it would make the perfect Airbnb house, and started with her plan: A bathroom overhaul, cater the kitchen to what her guests would need for their quick visits and new paint on everything. It only took her about a month, but after that came the fun part – designing the space.

 

A Chic Spot

This pink mid-century modern space is considered to be in the heart of Oxford and a “chic” spot. The living room’s walls are a light pink; a bold statement for an entire room.

“The color is actually ‘retro rose.’ My friend, who is an artist, went with me to pick out paint colors. For some reason, I was leaning towards pink,” she said. “My friend picked out ‘retro rose,’ and I fell in love with the color and the name of it.” 

Pennington said she came home and immediately got to work. She painted a couple strokes, then stepped back and was unsure of her decision. She continued to paint and ended up painting the whole wall in one night. After the whole wall was painted, she was obsessed with the color. 

The bedroom was designed with soft pinks, yellows and blues to be a relaxing place to sleep at the end of a long day. While this one-bedroom, one-bath house includes a lot of pinks, the bathroom is starkly different from the rest of the space. Plain white walls paired with the black-and-white tiled floor, every aspect looks simple and sleek. 

“I just wanted it to be a clean space to feel clean. With all the white and light colors, it helps create the illusion that it’s a bigger space than it actually is,” she said. “I love the cleanliness of it.”

She said her mom was a big help with the home’s renovations, and that she is very gifted in design as well. Pennington gets a lot of her design inspiration from her mom and grandparents. Pennington has a wall clock from her grandfather, and she couldn’t think of a better place to put it than in the bedroom. 

“My grandfather’s clock fits perfectly in the bedroom. It makes a ticking noise that sounds so calming when you are very quiet. I also have cute milk glasses in the kitchen. I love things that I can find to relate back to my grandparents.”

From the milk glasses, to her grandfather’s clock and all the floral touches throughout the house, Pennington always seems to find a way to make her grandparents a part of the house. There is a touch of floral in each room of the Airbnb because her mom and grandmother love flowers. 

“But I have always loved flowers. I think it represents a big part of my personality,” she said.

 

Whimsical & Fun

Now an Airbnb host, Pennington goes above and beyond to make her renters feel welcomed. She always supplies her guests with Uptown Coffee, her childhood favorite cereals, board games, comic books and a Super Nintendo. Pennington just wants her guests to be happy and comfortable, but respects the nature of a vacation: getting away.

“I try to be as hands-off as possible when I have guests staying at the house, but I will always be the first to give them restaurant recommendations or other fun activities to do around Oxford,” she said. “I always tell them while they are in town to stop by the coffee shop, and I will buy them a cup of coffee. It’s just a good way to meet and get to know people a little bit. And I make sure to tell them if they ever need anything to just let me know.”

These are just some of the touches she adds to make her guests feel at home.  

“Honestly, whenever I was putting this place together, I just wanted it to be a fun space, but not a space that you are going to live in for an extended period of time,” she said. “It’s kind of a lot to take in, but I wanted it to be a whimsical and fun environment. Each room is different in its own way.”

Pennington said she’s not here for the profit, she just enjoys the process and meeting her guests. After she finished the project in the latter part of 2019, she couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to do next. Pennington always says, “If I want to have a fun project, then I have to make it happen myself.” 

 

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