Vacation Rental Decorating Tips

As we are working toward re-opening the state and the travel business, this is a great time to think about how to improve your property and maximize the value. If you want to have a hotly-demanded property that is always booked up and making money, your property will have to stand out in a crowded field of options! 

While some guests look for the perfect location or amenities, many guests book based purely on the pictures your home. They might be looking for a place that is modern, charming, or cozy. Other guests may book based purely on the high reviews of people who have stayed there before. The look and reviews of the interior of your home makes a huge difference to potential renters!   

The good news, is that you don't need to spend a fortune updating your property to see a strong return-on-investment. You might have spent your quarantine binge-watching "Property Brothers" and "Fixer Upper" and have plans to knock down walls and redesign your whole home, but that isn't necessary either. HGTV has great inspiration, but sometimes just a few simple touches can make a huge impact on the look of your home. 

Here's a few simple things you can do to update the interior of your vacation home, to get your rental some extra attention! 

Fresh Paint: Nothing goes further to update the look of your house than a fresh coat of paint. Paint is relatively cheap, makes a quick weekend project, and it can do wonders for your space. While you want to give your house some personality, try to go with neutral colors.  Avoid bold color choices (hot pink, we are looking at you). While you may love bright colors, they may turn off some visitors.  If you do want to add some color, try getting inspiration from the annual Panton Color of the Year selection. The  Pantone 2020 choice is Classic Blue.  You can also check out the Timeless Color collection from Sherwin-Williams for ideas that will appeal to a broad audience.

Give it Personality: Try using a favorite decoration as a theme for the house or the room. You can use one piece to inspire color choices, wall art, window treatments, lights, etc. Choose something you like, or feel passionate about. 

For example, if you love fishing, decorate with some antique fishing rods, paddles, baskets, or framed maps of the local rivers. If you love skiing, maybe put up some vintage skis, pictures of Mt. Bachelor, or trail maps of your favorite ski resorts. Or try keeping it local and decorating with a classic Oregon theme, using photographs of your favorite destinations and pieces from local artisans.  

Avoid Fragile Decor: We generally recommend against using your grandmother's china, glass bowls, or priceless antiques as decor for a vacation rental. Accidents happen. If you have kids, you know they happen often, and always in the worst possible place (usually someone else's home). While there is always a damage deposit to fall back on, you don't want to risk anything expensive or of sentimental value.

Less is More:  Don't Overdo your decor. While you don't want it to feel too sparse, there can be too much of a good thing. Avoid clutter. 
Make sure you have art or decorations on the walls, but that you can still see the walls. Decorate your mantle with a piece or two, but don't cram it full of decorations. Have a vase with flowers on the table, but don't put out a complex centerpiece. 

On the flip side, don't underwhelm with your decor. Avoid large, blank walls. Put down accent rugs on your hardwood floors, make sure you have window treatments up, and fill your bookshelves.

Furniture Matters: Use quality furniture and be sure to fix anything showing signs of aging. No one likes a squeaky bed frame, a sagging couch, or a threadbare chair! Pick furniture that's hard to stain or scratch and will stand up to the wear and tear of many guests. 

While nice furniture may cost more up front, it will not need to be replaced as frequently, saving money over the life of your vacation rental. Good furniture doesn't necessarily mean brand new; check antique stores for nice dressers, tables, benches, or chairs you can add to your existing pieces to create an eclectic, homey look. 

Make sure you have enough furnishings to provide plenty of drawer and closet storage for your guests. They may not want to live out of suitcases for a week-long stay.

Let there be Light:  Unless you are renting to a vampire, no one wants to sit in a dark house. Dark spaces feel small and uncomfortable.  Make sure you have plenty of bright light fixtures to light up each room. Pay particular attention to bedrooms, the living room, and the kitchen, which may not have enough ceiling lights. 

Check your window treatments as well, and make sure they are working correctly and contributing to your space. Natural light is the best light!

Make it Cozy: As a vacation rental owner, your goal is to make your home feel like a home away from home to your guests. Make it feel cozy. Add some throw blankets and accent pillows to couches and chairs.  Make sure beds have plenty of pillows and plush comforters for chilly nights. 

Remember that cozy does NOT mean clutter! It means soft fabrics, comfortable furnishings, and a homey environment.

Know your Crowd: If your primary goal is to rent to families, make sure you have a kid-friendly bedroom (hello, bunk beds!) with appropriate decor. Consider keeping a collection of games, bean bag chairs, and use outlet protectors. 

Is your rental dog-friendly? Consider setting up a corner for Fido, with a dog dish, hook for a leash, and a dog bed.

Take Down Personal Items: We know this is YOUR home. But when you are renting it to other families, you want to make them feel like it's THEIR home. Don't use personal pictures of your family for decoration, or decorations with your family name on them. It makes a renter feel like they are invading your personal space and they may be less likely to leave a positive review. 

That goes for storage, too.  Keep the closets clear. If you want to keep personal items for your own use like clothes, toys, personal electronics, or personal sports equipment, store it in a locked closet, garage, or room.