Themed Vacation Rentals: Dos and Don’ts

The trend of themed vacation rentals is rising in popularity among holiday guests. Who wouldn’t love to feel like a princess in a castle for a weekend or enjoy some tropical island vibes, away from the beach? Especially for families with kids, themed properties can make for an extra special and magical holiday experience.

Additionally, for homeowners, this presents the perfect chance to really set your property apart from the competition and stand out to travelers who are looking for something unique.

If you’re planning on turning the interior design of your own vacation rental into a creative theme, there are many useful tricks that can help you, but also some faux pas which you should definitely avoid.

Here are the dos and don’ts of themed vacation rentals that all property owners should bear in mind.

Choosing Your Theme

Of course, the first step is deciding on the theme you want for your interior design. Whether you’re going all out with a Marvel superhero makeover or for something more subtle like a mountain lodge aesthetic – there are several factors to consider here.

Do: Know your target market

You should, first and foremost, think about who your ideal guest types are and who you want to attract with your theme. If families are your biggest target group, it’s probably wise to choose a theme for the children specifically. Even though the parents are, of course, the ones who will book the holiday, they will likely want to pick something that their kids can primarily enjoy.

You should think about popular kids movies from Disney or Pixar to delight your youngest guests. More general themes like pirates or castles are also always a hit and you can get as creative with decorating as you want.

Even for adults, well-known movie or TV show themes can prove to be popular. For example, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter or other similar franchises that people of all ages passionately love.

Alternatively, it is also a great option to find a theme related to your property’s location. Designing a Hawaiian beach bar kitchen or a green pine forest bathroom can already bring a special touch and create a unique holiday experience for your guests.

Don’t: Venture into the unknown

It’s better to avoid themes that are too obscure and niche. If you want to use the design as a key selling point that sets your vacation rental apart, you are better off choosing something that is well-known and liked by the general population. Otherwise, there is no enhanced value in booking your offer, rather than your typical, unthemed holiday home.

Picking a Color Scheme

As soon as you’re done brainstorming and are committed to a theme, you should pick the main colors that best represent it. Design and decoration choices will be a lot less troublesome if you already a color scheme to start off with as a basic framework.

Do: Plan out your ideas in advance

With your theme in mind, you can now make a mood board to prompt some inspiration and visualize the recurring colors and shades. If you have a Pinterest account, this would be a perfect place to collect ideas. However, you can also get to scrapbooking the old school way and make a real collage out of prints and cut-outs.

Other helpful online tools can also aid you in sampling colors from images or virtually painting photos of your space – so you can better visualize which shades will work together. Ideally, you should pick a couple of base colors that are more neutral and calm for bigger surfaces. To complement them, you can add one to three accent colors for decorations and amenities.


Don’t: Forget the basics

Although you want to incorporate colors closely related to your theme, you should still think about what is aesthetically appealing.

If you go for a very dark and gloomy or bright and garish color palette, it could have the opposite of the desired effect. The same goes for mixing too many different colors together in the same space.

Potential guests might be turned off even if they actually like your theme. After all, people want their vacation home to be a place where they can rest their minds and get away from daily woes and worries. That said, if questionable design choices already spark a headache upon entrance, the whole point of taking the vacation becomes a bit redundant.

Refurbishing Your Space

If you are committed to your theme, you should think about actually renovating the space you’re transforming. The walls and floors being tied into the whole visual will truly make your guests feel like they are fully immersed in the world you’re creating for them.

Do: Keep it close to nature

Recreating the “natural environment” of your theme makes for the most realistic design. For example, you could turn your walls into a sunny blue sky or a starry universe, while your floors become a light sandy beach, dark earthy soil or a stainless steel spaceship. To save you the expenditure of new floors, you could also recreate the same look with a matching carpet.

Are you a talented artist or do you know someone who is? A mural is definitely a very notable piece of art that will make your theme come alive on the walls of your home. It will also help you to further stand out to guests, so you might even consider hiring a professional artist to give you that added extra.


Don’t: Go overboard with the theme

For the best results, you may want to consider limiting your theme to certain rooms of your vacation rental only. If your budget or schedule doesn’t allow you to redo the entire place from top to bottom, you should compromise and only invest in one or two rooms instead. Rather than having the theme halfway done throughout your home, make those specific spaces really remarkable. For your guests’ experience, this will definitely be much more valuable.

Buying or Building Custom Furniture

The furnishing you choose can really set your theme apart from others.

Do: Consider home-made options

Specially customized furniture will certainly elevate your themed vacation rental to the next level. However, you don’t necessarily need to go out and spend a lot of money on buying new installations or hiring someone to design expensive custom items.

There are a lot of DIY alternatives you can use to customize the plain furniture you already own or inexpensively bought. A new paint job alone will make a huge difference! In addition, if you have some craftsmanship skills, you can try to add even more self-made customizations with materials from the hardware store. Your guests will undoubtedly take note of the love for detail.

Don’t: Let safety slip

In case you do venture into DIY territory, make sure that all of your custom furniture is completely safe and child-proof. The latter is especially vital if you often host families with young kids or pets.

There should be no risk of any furniture pieces breaking off, splintering or tipping over and potentially endangering the health and safety of your guests. So double and triple check every added installation in advance. Even a single loose screw or protruding nail can become the cause of a terrible disaster.

Just as before, quality is better than quantity. So don’t let yourself be discouraged by budget or time investment. One very well-done centerpiece will have much more impact and value for your themed vacation rental than a bunch of cheap looking items of furniture.

Decorating and Gadgets

The decoration is where attention to detail can really make or break the success of your themed vacation rental. Distinctive, one-off items can give the space an authentic feel and truly make your theme come to life.

Do: Let your imagination run wild

Follow your own creative streak and come up with innovative and quirky ideas for your interior design. Whether it’s a vintage map, a particular action figure or colorful neon sign for the wall – if it fits well with your chosen theme, add it in. These are the details that will make your guests’ stay feel extra memorable and magical. In case your creative vision is still lacking you can draw some extra inspiration from other social media sites like Instagram.

Don’t: Overlook what guests really want

Keep in mind that less is more. Over-cluttering your space with too many knick-knacks, pictures and posters will make it feel too crowded and won’t necessarily improve the overall quality of your theme. If you place a unique, well-chosen statement piece instead, it will be far more effective.

On the other hand, you also shouldn’t just hang up some posters and call it a day. Your guests will immediately see how much effort and care you put into your home design. Whether they deem your themed vacation rental worthy of booking ultimately depends on that important first impression.

We hope that these dos and don’ts have inspired you to design your very own themed vacation rental. In case you already own one, please feel free to share any additional tips and tricks you have from your personal experience in the comments!

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  1. This is exactly what we did in 3 of our 6 bedrooms but went with a generic Disney Parks theme (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) and had a local artist hand paint the murals. We have had many positive comments about the rooms especially as with it being a large home it is generally a family or families holiday and they want something that appeals to children.

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