Seattle Spotlight: Diane, Airbnb host and Ballard business owner, shows off her city with pride

We’re excited to continue the Seattle Spotlight series — a weekly highlight of stories from the local home sharing community. Seattle residents have democratized travel by turning their largest expense — their homes — into an asset to earn extra income, allowing travelers to live like locals and generate economic activity across the city.

Airbnb host Diane moved to Seattle 17 years ago for a change of pace, and asked herself a very tough question: America is so big, why live in one place your whole life? She made a decision, packed her things, moved to Seattle and has called it home ever since. “As I was driving up to Seattle, I saw the skyline from the highway and started to tear up,” she says. “I knew this was home.”

Diane poses with her lovable pup Stella outside her shop, Venue Ballard

“I felt like I could really belong In Seattle.”

Diane lives right outside of the growing Ballard neighborhood and adores its welcoming charm. “I love all the little neighborhoods, but especially Ballard, it’s so unique and historic,” she says. “There are so many local businesses and creative, interesting people, and I felt like I could really belong. It’s so reassuring — you can be who you want to be, and you’ll be accepted.”

Diane rents out a small studio on her property on Airbnb, and has enjoyed hosting guests from around the world for over four years. “I have met some of the most interesting people,” Diane says. “I’ll invite them to hang out in my backyard to talk or have drinks. It’s a great way to connect with people I’d otherwise never meet.”

Explore Diane’s studio listing

“Home sharing is a great way to connect with people I’d otherwise never meet.”

Having hosted for four years, she understands the appeal of home sharing not just from a host perspective, but for guests as well. “People are intrigued to stay in a neighborhood and a home,” she adds. “There will always be people who prefer to stay in hotels, but I’d like to provide something for those who want to experience living like a local.”

In addition to being a host, Diane is also a local business owner of Venue Ballard, an art venue that sells local art and offers studio space to local artists. “Everything in our store is created by local designers and artists,” she says. “Local artists can rent out studio space to work on their craft. It’s kind of funny — I originally moved here to open my own bed & breakfast, but with Venue Ballard I kind of opened a ‘bed & breakfast’-like environment for artists. The studio space helps support connection, creativity, and community,” Diane continues. “So I came here for one reason but the vision was still realized in other ways.”

“I’m proud of my city… and want travelers to walk away with a good experience.”

Diane is also very active in the Ballard local business community. She was instrumental in establishing and coordinating the Ballard Merchant Fair, an event for Airbnb hosts to connect with local businesses and learn about their products, crafts, services and promotions. Asked why she was so eager to introduce these groups to one another, she said it’s all about promoting the small businesses in Ballard. “I’m proud of my city,” she says. “If anyone comes here, I want them to walk away with a good experience. I want to show people things that are genuine and unique to the region.”

Airbnb hosts and local businesses connect at Ballard Merchant Fair

Diane addresses the crowd of Airbnb hosts at the 2nd annual Ballard Merchant Fair

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“If home sharing can work in other big cities, it can work here in Seattle.”

As a host and local business owner, Diane understands the city’s proposed new regulations on home sharing. “Ballard, just a few years ago, had [very few] hotels. So anyone who was visiting here had limited accommodation options,” she says. “So now with Airbnb, travelers can stay in the neighborhood, and local businesses like mine can tap into the travel dollars that home sharing is bringing to Ballard.”

Take a view of Venue Ballard

Ultimately, Diane simply wants the home sharing community to have a seat at the table. “I just hope our elected officials hear both sides of the story, and hear from real Airbnb hosts and businesses who tap into the travel dollars,” she says. “If it can work in other big cities, it can work here in Seattle.”