Vacation Rental Decor

How Do You Decorate a Vacation Rental?

September 17, 2020


That’s not a long word, and yet, it says so much. In regards to your vacation rental, a guest’s reflexive “Wow” can either express chagrin or total satisfaction. Obviously, we’re going for the latter here!

The first “Wow” you want to entice is with your listing’s photos: most travelers choose rentals based solely on the pictures, and knowing how to photograph your property properly is absolutely critical. Before you can start snapping pics, though, you need to put on your interior design hat and decorate, decorate, decorate—all without overdoing it.

As a short-term rental owner, you have a fine line to walk. You want your vacation home to be clean and inviting, but not so pristine-looking that it reminds guests of a soulless hotel. At the same time, you want your home to have character, but not so much character that guests feel like they’re invading someone else’s private space. 

Oy, that’s a lot to juggle.

How can you decorate your vacation rental so that it not only stands out in photos, and drives bookings, but so that it also incites a jubilant “Wow!” from every guest who steps through the door? Well, before you even pick up a paint brush or hang a picture, it’s worth it to sit down and map out a plan:

  • Formulate a decor budget
  • Establish who your target guests are
  • Create a checklist of things you want to do, buy, fix, and update
  • Find inspiration on social media 

Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you’re ready to start decorating. Let’s roll!

Style Tells a Story  

Many short-term rental owners like their home’s decor to reflect its location. A rental in Myrtle Beach, for instance, might sport a shabby chic look, while a cabin in Colorado requires more rustic touches. Either way, start with neutral color schemes and add pops of personality as you go. It’s usually best to avoid “loud” decor—bright paint colors, bizarre pieces of art—since that funky style probably doesn’t appeal to most guests. 

However! That’s not to say you shouldn’t infuse your rental with your own personality. A great way to do that is by mixing and matching store-bought items with the treasures you unearth at antique shops and rummage sales. Those sorts of vintage pieces can add layers of intrigue to your home, all while telling its unique story. 

Furniture & Lighting are Necessary Investments

Let’s put this bluntly: do not cut corners on your rental’s furniture and lighting. Be sure to invest in durable, high-quality furniture, including couches and tables that are difficult to stain, scratch, scuff, or break. Your rental furniture is going to pick up some dings along the way, but taking the plunge for quality pieces right from the start can save you big in the long run. Not to mention, it will just look nicer. 

Lighting, meanwhile, is an easy thing to overlook. But it’s actually a major component of your home’s vibe and appearance. Some types of lighting create an illusion of spaciousness, while others simply make guests feel more at home—like a bedside lamp. Again, it’s worth investing in high-quality light fixtures, as well as energy-efficient bulbs that won’t burn out and leave visitors fumbling around in the dark.  

Flaws vs. Features

A common question homeowners ask themselves is, “Will guests notice that?” The answer is yes, they absolutely will notice that! Whether it’s a stain on the sofa or a tear in the wallpaper, guests have a knack for spotting nicks, and they write their reviews accordingly. 

Not all flaws are created equal, however: slightly chipped tiles or weathered bricks might actually make an older, more vintage-style space all the more endearing. The point is, don’t confuse features for flaws—some blemishes need to be fixed or covered up, but others can actually work to your advantage. 

Don’t Leave ‘Em Itchin’ for a Kitchen (or Storage) 

A fully equipped kitchen is something that’s easy to take for granted in your own home. Ditto for storage space. Stocking your rental’s kitchen with reliable appliances and cookware, though, is never a bad idea—in fact, it’s basically a necessity if you’re targeting families. Along those same lines, providing ample storage space is also a necessity no matter who your guests are. It’s not the most exciting decor element, but travelers appreciate dedicated areas to stow away all their belongings, especially for extended stays. 

A Complete Look

Finally, don’t forget to tie up any loose ends. Little things—like filling empty bookshelves with actual books, putting rugs down on bare floors, and populating empty wall space with artwork and pictures—are truly the finishing touches that transform your vacation rental into someone else’s temporary home. 

Not every inch of unoccupied space needs to be decorated, though; remember, guests want to relax, and unnecessary clutter could hinder their path to completely escaping the chaos of daily life. Instead, remain thoughtful throughout the decorating process, from the big stuff to the small stuff and everything in between. Guests do notice that level of care, and in the end, it really is the thought that counts.

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