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Photograph by Rebecca Stumpf

The Coolest New Way to Shop for Furnishings

Guest House makes it easy to find your perfect sofa—by letting you shop in an actual home.

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Shopping for furniture is no easy task: All too often, a piece that looks perfect in the context of a massive brick-and-mortar furniture store just doesn’t fit in at home. And online shopping has its perks—not having to get out of your pajamas, for one—but the risk of buying before trying often outweighs the benefits of to-your-door delivery.

Photograph by Brandon Lopez

Alex Ryden knew there had to be a better way to furnish a home. While working for luggage company Age Carriers, he had been successful selling goods out of his house. So he applied that strategy to furniture: Two years ago, he swapped out all of the furnishings in his Jefferson Park townhouse for consigned pieces from local makers including Housefish, New Collar Goods, and Jorgensen Stoneware, and invited his neighbors to come over and shop. Guest House was born. “People felt more comfortable making a purchase when they could see [a piece] inside a real home,” he says. “They could test it, feel it, sit on it.”

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The pop-up-inside-his-house concept has since evolved. Ryden now partners with real estate agents (namely, Slate Real Estate Advisors) to stage high-end, on-the-market houses with for-sale furniture and decor, much of it from local makers. These “shoppable homes”—open to the public on Friday and Saturday afternoons until the home sells and closes, which typically takes up to two months—allow prospective home-buyers and furniture-shoppers to peruse the modern wares in a more relaxed venue. They can purchase them on the spot—or later on Guest House’s website; the inventory remains online indefinitely, unless it’s a vintage or one-off piece.

Photograph by Brandon Lopez

Ryden delegates the design details to an expert. After admiring Denver interior designer Anna Smith’s work on Instagram (her design firm is called Anna-bode), he hired her as head of interiors. “We’re trying to curate toward a contemporary aesthetic,” says Smith, who designs with natural materials, luscious textures, and modern detailing.

Since its 2016 launch, Guest House has staged properties all over the city, including at the Four Seasons Private Residences Denver and, most recently, a five-bedroom, five-bath house in the Whittier neighborhood. “I design them as I would my clients’ spaces,” Smith says of the homes. And, according to Ryden, that personal touch makes all the difference: “[Shoppers think], ‘If it looks good in this home, I can see it in mine.’”

Meet The Makers

Guest House loves these seven regional crafters—and you will, too. Shop them all at guesthouseshop.com.

1. Housefish
@housefishdesign
We Love… the RiNo-based company’s intricate woodwork (check out their Arbor coat stand), penchant for funky shapes and colors, and use of made-in-the-USA, eco-friendly materials.

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2. Shigouri
@shigouri
We Love… that every piece of furniture and lighting is crafted by hand by Nick Shigouri. Bonus: The walnut Snower bed comes together in less than five minutes.

3. DoubleButter 
@doublebutter
We Love… this Denver duo’s commitment to crafting furniture that will last a lifetime (the Roadrunner chair is high on our wish list)—using nontoxic materials and domestically sourced wood from sustainable forests.

4. Fin Art Co
@finartco
We Love… that these former bartenders’ sophisticated, minimalist designs—like the Fausto stool in walnut and white—look as great in our kitchens as they do at our favorite local bar.

5. Alexa Allen
@alexaallenis
We Love… the unexpected use of leather in this Boulder maker’s hand-formed bowls, which are beautiful and functional.

6. New Collar Goods
@new_collar_goods
We Love… the mix of handsome wood and metal in their semi-custom line of modern tables and chairs.

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7. Garrett Brown Designs
@garrettbrowndesigns
We Love… the bold, angular pieces, like the Eros nesting benches. They’re like functional art for your home.

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