This Airbnb Alternative Lets You Vacation in Modernist Homes Designed by Famous Architects

Annie Armstrong
Oct 17, 2017 2:30PM

Sawtooth Cabin, MN. Courtesy of PlansMatter.

In 2013, Connie Lindor and Scott Muellner faced an unexpected opportunity when a major fire nearly destroyed a historic duplex they owned together in Minneapolis.

Trained architects, the pair had been friends and frequent collaborators since meeting on the first day of school at the University of Minnesota College of Design. They worked together at the offices of Minnesota architects like Julie Snow (of Snow Kreilich Architects), Vincent James, and David Salmela, and beginning in the early 2000s, ran a design store together, called Redlurered. But in 2006, their paths diverged; Lindor got an MBA and joined a software startup, while Muellner began work at an architecture and design company. In 2013, inspired by the prospect of designing that the fire had initiated, they became collaborators again.

“We immediately began the two-year renovation with the goal of making the 1910 building better than it originally was,” Muellner explains. “We wanted to build a modern cabin, and thought renting it would help cover the costs.” And while the cabin was never built, the idea for PlansMatter was born.

Gunflint Lake Cabin, Grand Marais MN. Courtesy of PlansMatter.


Inspired by the wildly successful Airbnb business model, Lindor and Muellner built PlansMatter as a platform for the architecturally inclined traveler to explore new places, while staying in modernist homes. “We decided that the world needed a website to help people find architectural vacation rentals more than we needed a modern cabin,” Muellner offers. They recruited Snow to be on their board and built out the website.

The site operates under the credo, “Use PlansMatter if you appreciate the importance of beautiful architecture and how it can influence your experience—wherever you may decide to go.” With listings on five continents, the owners scout their rentals based on vacations they’d like to take themselves. A few of their more popular rentals include Bjarne Mastenbroek and Christian Müller’s contemporary Dutch Villa Vals in Vals, Switzerland, or more locally, the Kinney House in Lancaster, Wisconsin, designed by esteemed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

“Even though the importance of design is becoming increasingly evident, often times we only experience the thoughtful design of our physical environment at a product design level, or in public architecture,” Muellner explains. “To experience world-class residential architecture by actually staying in it for a few days, or ideally more, is incredibly moving. This experience really lets us understand the positive impact great architecture can have on our day-to-day lives.”

Villa Vals, Vals, Switzerland. Courtesy of PlansMatter.

Since its inception in 2013, PlansMatter has evolved into not only homestay-oriented destinations, but more recently has also begun to fulfill aspirations to add classic hotels to its roster. Beginning in South America, locations like the modular Awasi Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and the Belle Époque style Hotel B in Lima, Peru, are now on the site, thus presenting a more expansive appreciation for architecture, beyond domestic spaces.

PlansMatter’s dedication to architecture lovers extends into its emphasis on design details. Each listing on the page has been visited before by someone in the company, and thus, the descriptions on the site offer necessary insights that those with an eye for architecture will appreciate—like how the evening light might hit the living room, or what role the structure plays in its lush natural surroundings.

Muellner notes that the addition of hotels will not only make PlansMatter a more useful resource, it will also boost the company’s reach, into more urban properties and major cities. “We are drawn to architecture that will elevate our experience beyond keeping us warm and dry,” he adds, “places that have architectural intention, a connection to the place, and a story to tell.”

Annie Armstrong