One area where hotels (especially boutique hotels) still have a leg up over vacation rentals is in their interior design. After all, hotels can bring in professionals to carefully curate and stage their rooms and common areas for maximum comfort and beauty.
Thankfully, we can change that. A few simple interior design changes can make a noticeable difference at your property, while still keeping the personality and local inspiration that make vacation rentals so loveable.
Below, we’ve collected more than a dozen of our favorite easy, painless “dos and don’ts” from a group of vacation rental staging pros: a photographer, a seasoned traveler, a professional cleaner and a hospitality expert.
Use these tips to get your vacation rental photo ready (and guest-friendly!). The best part? All of these can be done in a day… and they won’t break your budget.
The Photographer: Tyann Marcink, Marcink Designs
1. DO: Invest in throw pillows. Pillows give a beautiful pop of color to your photos and make your property feel loved with a finishing touch.
2. DON’T: Forget to trim tags and loose threads from throw pillows. Shabby pillows aren’t shabby chic, and your photos will show every detail.
3. DO: Use local art on your walls. Support local artists and small businesses while giving your property a story to tell. Don’t hesitate to tell your guests the stories on your walls… and their stay at your place will be written deeper into their memory.
4. DON’T: Rely too much on small art. Large art, whether canvas pieces or framed photographs, pull a room together and look great in your property photos.
The Seasoned Traveler: Lynne Martin, Author of Home Sweet Anywhere
5. DO: Hang hooks for your guests. Owners: remember that people need a place to hang robes, towels, cosmetic bags, and other belongings. Please don’t be stingy with hooks! They’re appreciated in bathrooms, bedrooms, front halls and kitchens.
6. DO: Let there be light. Travelers love to read – especially guide books, bestselling novels, travel books, and maps. Place lamps or overhead lighting where people actually need them: by the bed, near the armchair and in the kitchen. A bigger bulb won’t break the bank and your visitors will be delighted.
7. DO: Provide lots of hangers. These things are cheap and disposable, so why not make your guests wildly happy by providing an abundance of them? If you’re feeling extra kind, why not throw in a few skirt hangers? Your karma will improve if you do!
8. DON’T: Let your pillows get lumpy. Decent pillows are a luxury that everyone appreciates, so spring for some really nice, fluffy pillows and replace them often. Plopping one’s head on a clean, inviting pillow at the end of a long day of sightseeing is an extremely memorable experience and will help you get those great reviews!
The Designer: Mercedes Brennan, 1 Chic Retreat
9. DO: Add some blue in your interiors. 42% of all people, across all geographies and ages, say blue is their favorite color. Blue equates to trust, friendliness, and calm. There’s a reason why the world’s most powerful corporations have blue logos. You should, too!
10. DON’T: Have earth-dominant interior colors. The world’s least favorite colors are browns and beiges –they equate to decay in people’s minds. Balance your browns with blue and blue-greens and you will make your guests happy and attract more bookings.
11. DO: Mix vintage and new furnishings together. Adding in some antique and vintage furnishings along with some new items makes a vacation rental feel more authentic and high-end. A stack of vintage books next to a new lamp, for example, gives the room patina style.
12. DON’T: Furnish a room with all antiques or all new furnishings. The former makes your vacation rental look like a dusty second-hand shop; the latter makes your house look cheap and rushed.
The Pro Cleaner: Sarah Piano-Tarjks, Home Sweet Home Cleaning
13. DO: Keep your linens fresh. Washing between guests is a given. But you should also spot-check them when they come out of the dryer, too. I swear by Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing to keep them sparkling white and turn small stains into “no big deal.” And tuck that bed to perfection every time! No exceptions.
14. DON’T: Recycle your own home’s linens at your vacation rental. If your linens are more than two-to-four years old, it’s time to reinvest for the sake of your guests.
15. DO: Go for the high-design, minimalist approach. In other words, keep things simple and updated, which makes for a clean, open feel (and makes the housekeeper’s job a lot easier!). Make sure the items you do leave out have a purpose.
16. DON’T: Overdo it with knick-knacks. Fake plants, statues and other ornaments collect dust, and that ultimately increases your cleaning bill. Instead, choose a few special, well-placed touches – bonus points for local pieces!
Do you have an easy, do-it-in-a-day tip for adding a little beauty and comfort to your rental? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Alanna Schroeder-Millar is the founder of The Distinguished Guest, online interior design resource for vacation rental owners. Drawing on her own experience furnishing rentals and maintaining high standards for each and every guest, Alanna happily shares her tips and personal stories on her website.