Cozy cottage: Visitors find comforts of home in Russellville Airbnb
Pat and Andy Richardson are avid travelers, having traversed the United States and countries around the world for personal vacations, business assignments and missionary efforts. Through all their travels, they discovered one detail can make or break any trip: the quality of lodging. Finding that key to comfortable travel inspired the Richardsons to offer a comfortable home-away-from-home for Franklin County visitors, establishing Rose Cottage as a local option on Airbnb.
“We’ve stayed at Airbnbs when we traveled, and we’ve found when you get to a place where everything is clean and safe, it just makes a big difference,” said Pat, a semi-retired Ohio native who moved to Russellville at a young age. “What we wanted to do in this place was create that quietness, coziness and even luxuriousness compared to what you might find in local hotels.”
When son Robbie Richardson and wife Tawanna purchased their Russellville home, they didn’t necessarily have a plan for the smaller rental house on the same property. Pat and Andy offered to get it in pristine condition and operate it as an Airbnb – fulfilling a dream they had cherished a long time, both to provide a nice option for travelers and to connect with the travelers themselves. “I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, and that was one of the things that had drawn me to this,” Pat said. “All those years when I traveled for work, every day was a new set of people, and I miss that, honestly. I like people – I like to hear their stories and know what’s going on in different parts of the world.”
With Andy’s keen construction skills, cultivated during his international mission work, the Richardsons were able to get right to work on the two-bedroom guest house. It took about a year to turn it into the luxury accommodations the couple had in mind, requiring nearly a complete rebuild. “He took it down to the dirt,” Pat said. “The shell was pretty sturdy, but it had been neglected for quite a while. It’s totally new, now.” After the home’s completion, Pat has taken point on operating the Airbnb, but construction was Andy’s domain. “It was a job. You had to be tough to hang with it,” Andy said. Plumbing had to be replaced; wiring had to be replaced. It wasn’t long into the process that he thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”
But as the cozy little cottage began to take shape, the Richardsons could start to shift their focus from construction to guest comfort – a tenet that has governed their lives. “We’ve always been given to hospitality,” said Pat. She combined that value with her own passion for choosing decor, linens and other details designed to make a visitor’s stay as comfortable as possible. “We try to be a little bit upscale for our area and try to think of everything a guest would need. Of course, you can do that by thinking of anything you would need if you were traveling,” Pat said. “It has the amenities I think one would want. We just want guests to feel comfortable.”
And by all accounts, they are indeed comfortable in Rose Cottage, so named for the Rose of Sharon growing all around. Pat said all the visitors they have hosted since “opening for business” have been highly pleased with their accommodations. “Several of the ladies have complimented the decor and appreciated the linens on the beds,” said Pat. “It has a nice walk-in shower, and I think they like that, and the kitchen is well-equipped. Most all of them have complimented the cleanliness of the place.”
Pat said cultivating her interior design skills began in Nell Arnold’s home ec classroom at Russellville High School, where Pat took four years of classes. “She definitely had an influence on a lot of young ladies. She was my favorite teacher throughout high school,” Pat said. “I’ve always been interested in beautiful fabrics, and I like to decorate. People have told me I have an eye for that.” Choosing furniture and decor for Rose Cottage was a “fun project” for Pat, who worked on planning and purchasing all during the construction phase. “Some of the pieces were refinished; I did that part, and that was fun. I love going to antique stores and thrift stores and seeing potential in different pieces.”
Despite the challenges of reconstructing the small Russellville home, Andy said the end result made the work worthwhile. “It’s a sense of accomplishment, to see your work completed,” said Andy, a Belgreen native who worked about 40 years managing a printing plant and now works part time on small remodels, in addition to his mission work.
In addition to luxury linens, cozy furnishings and bonuses like full laundry capabilities, the other aspect that defines Rose Cottage as an upscale accommodation is Pat’s commitment to spotless cleanliness. “We clean after a guest leaves, and then we clean again before the next guest arrives, just to make sure everything is covered,” said Pat, who goes by a strict checklist and coordinates her efforts with a housekeeping team.
The Richardsons feel the home is conveniently located, near downtown Russellville and with easy access from Highway 43 and Highway 24. Pat said they hope to welcome everyone from business travelers to wedding guests. “We have been so fortunate. Every guest we’ve had have been model guests,” Pat added. “We’ve not had any disappointments. Everything has gone smoothly.”
The Richardsons first met in downtown Russellville, in the days when teens used to cruise the strip and enjoy treats at the King Frosty. In addition to son Robbie, they have two daughters – Beth Pounders, who lives in Russellville, and Alissa Richardson-Evans, who lives in Sheffield. They also have four grandsons, two granddaughters and two great-grandsons.
Their mission work has been through Global Outreach International based in Pontotoc, Mississippi, plus local church trips, as well as working with several other mission organization – serving from Thailand to Uganda to Haiti and Costa Rica – and locally Pat and Andy attend Russellville First Methodist, while Robbie attends Calvary Baptist.
“We’ve been blessed. We’ve had a good life, and we’ve been healthy enough to go and do things,” Pat said. “We hope there is still travel in our future.” In the meantime, she will focus her energy on welcoming travelers to Russellville, where she hopes those staying at Rose Cottage will find comfort and safety – “just stretch out, relax and enjoy the place.”