GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A couple from Chicago will put their passion for recycling and DIY design to use as they build an Airbnb rental out of old tires on their property south of Grand Rapids.
Kim Sullivan and Clayton Brown last week received $100,000 from a $10 million contest hosted by Airbnb. The funding will make possible their dream to create a house made of recycled tires that will be listed in the OMG! category on Airbnb's website.
The OMG! category features unusual listings like a converted caboose, a glass cottage, a renovated silo and a tiny "airship" overlooking the Scottish Highlands.
Airbnb established the one-time OMG! Fund contest in June to fund "crazy ideas," and last week it announced 100 winners who will receive up to $100,000 each to build guest-ready venues by Aug. 1.
Many of the OMG! Fund contest winners are Airbnb hosts who already have at least one rental.
Sullivan and Brown bought a second home on 23 acres of woods in Southwest Michigan in 2014. They registered the house as an Airbnb venue in 2015, and they continue to rent it out when they aren't using it.
One day, while on a walk deep in the woods on their property, Sullivan and Brown found a pile of about 1,000 tires that were dumped there when the lot housed a junkyard.
After learning that their township — which they declined to name for privacy reasons — only allows homeowners to recycle four tires per year, the couple felt stumped about what to do with their rubber largesse.
"We would be long gone by the time we recycled all those tires (four at a time)," Sullivan said. "And to pay to have a company come and get them out is astronomically expensive. We didn't come up with a good solution, and they have been sitting there for years."
Then, Sullivan received an email about Airbnb's OMG! Fund contest. The company said it would fund ideas with a "unique and inspiring design, sustainable consideration, and novel ways of offering immersive guest experiences."