themed bedroom

Themed Vacation Rentals: Dos and Don’ts

With the number of short-term rentals rising every year, the increased competition for guests means hosts need to focus more than ever on their marketing efforts to attract bookings. This presents the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your branding strategy to make your property stand out from the rest.

Nowadays, guests often use the most popular OTAs to find alternatives to standard hotels, looking for unique vacation experiences instead. If you’re planning to renovate your property into something more creative, why not consider offering a themed vacation rental?

Who wouldn’t love to feel like a princess in a castle for a weekend or enjoy a tropical beach staycation during the winter? Especially for families with kids, themed properties can make for an extra special and magical vacation experience.

While there are many useful tips and tricks that can help you, there are also some faux pas that you should definitely avoid.

Let’s take a look at the dos and don’ts of themed vacation rentals that all property owners should bear in mind.

Choosing your theme

Of course, deciding on the theme you want for your interior design is the first step. 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.

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 wise to choose a theme specifically for the children. Even though the parents are, of course, the ones who will make the booking, they will likely want to pick something that their kids can primarily enjoy.

You should think about popular kids’ movies, such as those from Disney and Pixar, to delight your youngest guests. More general themes like pirates, fairy tales, and dinosaurs are also a huge hit, and you can get as creative with decorating as you want!

harry potter theme

For adults, well-known movie or TV show themes are a great place to start. Some of the best themed vacation rentals in the world are based on classics, such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Barbie.

These come with great marketing opportunities too. You can create fun reels on Instagram and TikTok using music from the relevant soundtracks to promote your property and engage with potential clients. In addition, there’s a variety of film and TV memorabilia out there. Try finding some figurines, ornaments, and posters that you can decorate the interior with.

Alternatively, nature-based themes or a theme related to your property’s location can be a great option too. Many guests love the idea of staying in natural, eco-friendly accommodations designed with plants and organic up-cycled furniture. From beach and ocean themes to rustic mountain cabins, there’s plenty to choose from!

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, you are better off choosing something well-known; otherwise, booking your property has no enhanced value.

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 much less troublesome if you already have a color scheme to start with as a basic framework.

Do: Plan out your ideas in advance

With your theme in mind, you can make a mood board to prompt 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 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 more extensive surfaces. You can add one to three accent colors for decorations and amenities to complement them.

themed vacation

Don’t: Forget the basics

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

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

Potential guests might be turned off even if they like your theme. After all, people want to relax, rest their minds, and escape their daily worries.

Refurbishing your space

If you are committed to your theme, you should think about renovating the space you’re transforming. Refurbishing the ceiling, walls, and floors to match the decor will genuinely immerse your guests in the world you’re creating for them.

Do: Keep it close to nature

Recreating your theme’s “natural environment” makes for the most realistic design. For example, you could turn your ceiling into a sunny blue sky or a starry universe while your floors become a sandy beach or a spaceship deck. To save the expenditure on new floors, you could recreate the same look with a matching carpet.

Are you a talented artist, or do you know someone who is? A mural is an effective way to make your theme come alive. It will also help your vacation rental stand out in listings to guests. You could even consider hiring a professional artist to give you that extra edge.


Don’t: Go overboard with the theme

For the best results, you may consider limiting your theme to specific rooms only. If your budget or schedule prohibits you from re-doing the entire place, you should compromise and invest only in one or two rooms. Rather than having the theme half done throughout your home, go all out on those specific spaces. For your guests’ experience, this will be much more valuable.

Buying or building custom furniture

The furnishing you choose can set your themed vacation rental apart from others. Much like a movie set, you can use furniture to create an authentic feel for your theme and give guests a more realistic experience.

Do: Consider homemade options

Specially customized furniture will elevate your themed 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 furniture you already own. 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 entirely 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 or splintering and potentially endangering the health and safety of your guests. Double and triple-check every added installation in advance. Even a single loose screw or protruding nail can be dangerous.

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 than a bunch of cheap-looking items.

Decorating and ambient lighting

Attention to detail can make or break the success of your themed vacation rental, from unique, one-of-a-kind items to mood lighting.

Do: Let your imagination run wild

Follow your creative instinct and come up with innovative ideas for your interior design. If you’ve gone for an ocean theme, why not collect some genuine sea shells and place them around the home? If you are decorating a space-themed property, search second-hand shops for old telescopes that you can leave by the window. Whether it’s fully functional or not, it will undoubtedly add to the vibe. Just make sure to mention this in your listing.

Lighting plays a huge role in setting the scene, particularly in the evenings when guests are likely to want to relax. Warm tungsten lighting is ideal for creating a cozy environment, whereas red and blue lighting can enhance a spooky scene. Be sure to look for colored lightbulbs that can add to the theme.

themed living room

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.

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 you’ve put into your home design. Whether they deem your themed vacation rental worthy of booking depends on that crucial first impression.

We hope that these dos and don’ts have inspired you and will help you if you 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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