How to stage a vacation rental

Top 4 Tips for Staging your Vacation Rental to Perfection

Vacation rental staging is like the reader’s hook to your listing. If your home is perfectly positioned for creating captivating photos, you’ll stand a better chance of filling in your reservation calendar. Staging might sound like an easy task, but in reality, a lived-in home is much different than a photographed home.

When staging your vacation rental, you have to make it appear inviting, spacious and aesthetically pleasing. While your home should be all of those things in person, it’s even more important to emphasize those factors behind the screen. Your vacation rental listing might be the first introduction to your home for guests. Having your home prepared for first impressions by properly staging your property will help to enthrall potential guests from the very first sight.

What is vacation rental staging?

Many owners are curious as to what it even means to stage your vacation rental. Typically, when you’re staging a property to sell, you’re prepping it for tours, walk-throughs, open-house days, and an online listing. It’s intended to give potential buyers the opportunity to visualize what it would be like to live in that home.

If you’ve ever done a walk-through of a property that’s for sale, you might find posed furniture, additional lighting, and even fake food on the table. Staging should paint a clear picture of what it’d be like to live in that home.

Vacation rental staging photos

The idea is quite similar when it comes to vacation rentals. While you’re not trying to have guests settle permanently into your home, you do want them to envision their lives there, even if only just for the weekend. Vacation rental staging is done with the purpose of grabbing your guests’ attention in the pre-booking phase while also creating the perfect setting when they enter your property.

Why is it important to stage your vacation rental?

Maybe you think your home speaks for itself. After all, you purchased the property and decorated it to perfection! Still, even the best of homes need to be properly staged. Not staging your vacation rental, might make even the best spaces look dark, dull, uninviting, and, therefore, not suitable for their holiday needs.

Unless you’re exclusively hosting repeat guests or have reservations that come in by referral, you’re going to need to sell your potential vacationers. How exactly do you convince them? Once you’ve wowed them with your listing description, you’ll need the photos to back it up. Vacation rental photography is a whole other endeavor, but making sure you’ve set the scene for stunning pictures is where vacation rental staging comes in!

Vacation rental staging is important because it adds value to your property without the additional cost of a full home renovation or revamps. It might be as simple as repositioning your furniture or adding pops of color (more on that later) but can seriously increase your average daily rate. Beyond the price tag, you’re also far more likely to increase your yield of reservations.

How to stage a vacation rental

Most owners would agree on the importance of vacation rental staging, but might not be too sure how to proceed. If you browse other popular listings in your area, what might they all have in common? Be it local decor, warm lighting, or entertainment spaces just waiting for an occasion, the most popular listings in your area probably kept vacation rental staging in mind. So how do you apply these rules to your own property? We’ve got all the tips and tricks for setting the stage for your vacation home.

Create the illusion of space

Beyond the emerging trend of minimalistic travel, all guests are looking for a sleek, spacious stay. After all, who wants to feel cramped on their vacation? Even if the reality of your space is small, you can create the illusion of square footage with the right staging techniques.

Vacation rental staging

Color plays a large part in space creation. If all of your furniture is dark and overly patterned, it’s going to make your space look more crowded than it actually is. Some of the top interior design experts emphasize the use of a monochrome color scheme. It’s easier for the eye to follow neutral, non-distracting colors making the space easier to navigate and consequently larger.

Mirrors are also your friend. Including trendy or large mirrors into your spaces, especially narrow passageways or areas that lack natural light will help to amplify the size of your property.

Focus on lighting

Overheads just aren’t enough. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the ceiling lights in your home will do the trick. Fluorescents and overhead lighting can cause a vacation rental to look sterile and unwelcoming. If all of your light sources are coming directly from ceiling fixtures, they’re going to cast a lot of shadows which also cause your space to look smaller than it really is.

Interior designers typically opt for warmer lighting to create a more inviting atmosphere. Having lighting options at different heights of the room, such as floor lamps, hanging fixtures, and Edison bulbs, helps to evenly distribute the lighting in your home.

Get rid of distractions

It’s easy to get carried away with decor, especially when you’re working with a specific theme. Don’t crowd your Cape Cod-style home with endless amounts of nautical trinkets and sailor tchotchkes. Having two or three conversation pieces, be it art or figurines, is the appropriate limit for a room. Even if the room is large, adding too much decor will shrink the space.

Staging vacation rentals

This rule applies beyond decoration too. Having too many furnishings can make a space feel small and busy. When selecting furniture try to think of pieces that are multifunctional and of an appropriate size for the space. An L-shaped couch might seem like a good idea in theory, for example, but in practice, it might be unnecessarily large for your purposes and close off any open-concept spaces.

The outside should look just as good as the inside

We frequently hear the term “curb appeal” tossed around, but don’t take the time to put this into practice. The outside of your home should be just as inviting as the inside. Even if your main listing photo highlights your exquisite master bedroom or your luxurious living room, guests will be curious about the home’s exterior too, even if it’s not the focal point.

Some of the rules for exterior home staging are easy, for example: cleaning off the windows and shutters. Dirty, stained windows are much more noticeable in photos and can mislead guests into thinking your space isn’t well maintained. This five-minute fix can really help to stage your vacation rental the right way.

Don’t neglect the greenery. Refresh your garden, plant colorful shrubbery around the mailbox, and fix any dead patches in your yard. Those small details will liven up your outdoor space and invite guests to enjoy your home both inside and out.


Staging your vacation rental allows guests to envision their stay in your home. Whether you’re demonstrating fun in the kitchen with staged food props, or luxury in the bedrooms by fluffing and fixing the bedding to perfection, guests will notice those extra details. Ultimately, you’re creating the story of their stay; does your property look liveable? Experiential? In line with the theme? A properly staged vacation rental is sure to lure in new guests and increase your property’s value.

What do you think about this article?

4.4/5 - (23 votes)
Show Comments (2)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to take more direct bookings?

No set up fees, no credit card details, no obligation. Try Lodgify free for 7 days.