Fate of ‘Friends’-themed location up in air | Immovable

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Arriving at a popular vacation rental in Shady Acres over the past six months might have been more like stepping onto a well-known TV.

Visitors to the Heights area who stayed in the three-story townhouse at 1706 Bevis St. were transported to the late 1990s and early 2000s when they entered the second-floor common area. There’s a painting on the wall that looks like the storefront of Central Perk, a fictional cafe in New York, with an orange sofa and a monkey doll sitting on a coffee table. The room also features a familiar-looking kitchen, a painting of a fountain at night, and umbrellas of different colors sitting on the floor.

You might even expect people named Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe to knock on the room’s purple door with a gold frame around the peephole.

The second floor of the house was decorated last summer on the theme of “Friends”, the iconic sitcom that aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004. And during its approximately six months of rental on Airbnb, the online market for lodging and the homestays have been booked almost every weekend and often on weekdays as well, according to owner Frank Chance.

“He’s been very popular on Airbnb,” Chance said. “Almost every weekend he would book, averaging between $80 and $200 a night, depending on the weekend. I would say that’s pretty successful.”

The fate of the “friends” themed rental is up in the air, however. Chance said Tuesday he had listed the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home for sale and was accepting offers until the end of the day, and Wednesday morning it was listed as “under contract by the Houston Association. of Realtors website, where the list price was $330,000.

Chance said on Tuesday that some of the potential buyers he spoke with wanted to keep the property as an Airbnb rental, although that ultimately goes to the new owner.

“It could really go either way,” he said.

Chance said he and his wife, Alisha, who also operate a 1970s-themed Airbnb rental in the East Downtown area, decided to sell the Heights-area home because the market is “hot.” And he said they previously decided to decorate it with a “Friends” theme not necessarily because they were big fans of the show, but because it matched the vibe they were looking to create as well as to the development of the second floor.

Recreating the recognizable scenes required an investment of less than $15,000, Frank Chance said, and included hiring a muralist with Houston-based Salcreations. He said his wife reupholstered the orange couch to match the cafe on the show.

The kitchen was nicknamed “Monica’s Kitchen” after Courteney Cox’s character, Monica Geller, who worked as a chef. And the aforementioned monkey deal is a tribute to Ross Geller’s pet monkey Marcel, played by David Schwimmer.

The listing on Airbnb showcases “Friends” connections in both photos and words. The written description of the rental starts with “If this hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year, you’ll love staying at FRIENDS!” It’s a reference to the show’s theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” by The Rembrandts.

The owners also provide season-by-season DVDs of “Friends” for renters to watch during their stay.

“I think what happens is people look for something in the area and they see it’s a ‘friends’ theme, and then they want to stay there even more,” Chance said. “It was a very popular TV show and has a huge following, especially in my age group, which I would say is the older millennial age group.”

Chance also said the tenants helped keep the decor intact and in good condition.

“Honestly, I expected the Marcel (monkey doll) to be stolen, and it’s not,” he said. “I think people are respectful of space.”

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