Interior Design for Vacation Rentals

Interior design for vacation rentalsIt’s never too soon to revisit my favorite topic: Interior Design for Vacation Rentals. As we near the end of another busy summer season at the Delaware Beaches, summer visitors pack up and leave; property owners trickle back into town, take stock of another summer season, and have a close look around their properties.

The word here from the trenches is that it was a busy summer season for us at our managed properties. How was it for you? Anything concerning you?

Look around town. There is a lot more vacation rental inventory which equals more competition for your property. It seems like every new construction, or gut renovation is put into the short term vacation rental market. That is good news in an area under served by hotels.

Interior design for vacation rentals

Don’t ignore the inside of your door! Add a pop of color to suggest the out there outside that door!

The potential bad news challenge for property owners is how to make your property stand out to potential guests when there is much to choose from? Property Owners, it’s time to get real, real quickly! Now, more than ever it is important to focus on the purposeful interior design of your vacation rental property in order to get it noticed, and more importantly – get it booked! Here’s a fact that some overlook – your vacation rental property is a business. You need to focus on your customer base to sell your product. In order to appeal to that base, you need to put their needs first. Yes, the property may be a second home for you, but if it is in a vacation rental program, you need to consider your guests first by stressing interior design that is primed for vacation rental appeal. You’ve heard it said that guests look for a home away from home in a vacation rental. That’s partly true. There’s more to it though. Your guests are looking for the home they wish they had away from the home that they have! Mmm hmm! You betcha!

Need a specific example of the importance of purposeful interior design that is guest focused? I often take a similar telephone call from returning property owners. It goes like this:

Interior design for vacation rentalsOne ringie dingie.

Two ringie dingie.

“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?

I just got back into town and am upset. Why do guests keep moving my things? I keep finding my display items under sinks and in cupboards. My favorite chairs keep getting moved and I think they look much better where I put them.”


Interior design for vacation rentals

Lightbulb Moment – Purposeful Interior Design for Vacation Rentals.

There’s always that one ‘odd’ guest who thinks they need to re-build your property during their stay.

Don’t focus on random curve balls. Look for consistency in the feedback that your guests are giving you.

Ask your Rental Agent(s) what they notice at each turnover?

If guests are persistently moving, or not using a item then it’s not right for the space, may be in the wrong place, or not suited to their needs.

Watch out for reviews! Don’t take them personally. Feedback is given in many forms. At the end of the day, it all feeds back to good design basics. Remember your audience. Match their needs.

I repeat. Feedback feeds back to good design basics.

Property Owners, ask yourself the following questions. Be honest with your answers:

  1. Does the presence or absence of a design showcase the property to its highest potential? The absence of a design, is a design!
  2. Is there a coherence to your property? Does the aesthetic flow easily from room to room giving the guest a positive overall impression?
  3. Too much? Too little? Just right! Most property owners veer towards too much in their vacation rental properties – too much furniture, too many tchotchkes, too many mismatched items crammed in kitchen drawers and cabinets. The opposite can be just as bad. An overly sparse property gives the impression that the property is not finished, not ready for guests, and ‘cheap’ or of poor quality.
  4. Maintenance. Your decor, furnishings, and amenities – are they shabby, tired, in need of upgrade?
  5. Photographs – are the listing photographs recent and a true representation of the experience at the property?

Interior desgin in vacation rentalsArmed with these answers, here then are my top five tips towards maximizing your vacation rental appeal in a crowded marketplace:

  1. Design it to rent it! Minimalize. Strip down your personal tchotchkes. Less is more. Simplify and let the bones of the property speak to guests. Focus on a few carefully selected pieces designed with the guest in mind. Put a large sectional in the living room; an end table and a reading lamp just where a guest wants to set down their coffee cup. Don’t crowd the room. Space is good!
  2. Choose a neutral wall color palette that matches the outdoors colors of your area. Add pops of color with carefully chosen furnishings and artwork. Have the decor flow naturally from room to room giving a unified feel. Guests remember the property as a whole experience before specifics jump back in mind.
  3. Build the property design around a few, basic pieces and play to their strengths. Starting from scratch? Vacation rentals are all about gathering spaces. Put your budget into parts of the house where guests want to gather: the kitchen, dining room, screened in porch/patio/pool area/sun room. Make sure that the furniture scale matches the sleeping capacity of the house so that all guests can sit together comfortably. Buy the big pieces first and set a budget for display decor. Display items can eat up a budget very quickly. Don’t over-furnish. Resist the temptation for your vacation rental to be the end of the road dumping ground for your old furniture from your primary residence. Some heirloom pieces are great. Thrift store finds are great. Too much of one look and you’ve veered into disorganized clutter that will look even worse in real life than in the photos!
  4. Follow the guidance of the hotel industry. Have a Five Year PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) for your property. Don’t wait for the guest complaints, or dip in bookings to warn you that your property is getting tired and forgotten in the competition. Buy good quality furniture pieces in durable fabrics. Clean as you go relative to wear and tear stains. Replace as needed. Definitely every five years. Then re-do your listing photos as you finish your Five Year PIP.
  5. This really ties into point number 4 above. If your property has become tired, or the opposite, you’ve significantly improved it, don’t be cheap! Re-do your listing photos. Get a professional in to take the photos. It is not that expensive and you will recover the cost. You want your guests to have that Wow! moment when they arrive for sure. However, you also want your guests to remark in a positive way that the property is just as depicted.
Interior design for vacation rentals

Don’t forget your outdoor spaces – a simple, cool outdoor shower. Why not?

As potential guests sit swiping through hundreds of properties online, when they stop at your property and notice the high end, focused interior design, the comfort, the appeal to their needs, they are more likely to book your property over the competition which sits languishing in Grandma’s hand me down floral bedspreads and dusty, frilly bed skirts.

Follow our interior design basics and you will see positive results: more bookings, better guest reviews, higher rates than your competition. All of this translates to happy guests and increased profits for you, the property owner.

Seachange Vacation Rentals firmly believes in the importance and power of interior design tailored to appeal to the needs of the short term vacation rental market. We offer all of our property owners complementary interior design and staging services. Let us help you get your property ready to meet and exceed its competition.

Interior design for vacation rentals

Perfect coastal simplicity in a mid-Atlantic living room. Vacation Rentals done right at 302 Laurel Street, Rehoboth Beach. Photograph courtesy of Krista Valliant Photography, Berlin, MD

Seachange Vacation Rentals is now accepting new property listings into our short term vacation rental management program for 2019.

If you feel that you could benefit from our help, then please call our Rental Office on (302) 727-5566. We can provide a free, no-obligation rental readiness review of your property and interior design consultation. *

* Seachange Vacation Rentals is associated with Keller Williams Realty whose main office is at 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes, DE 19958 tel (302) 360-0300. This is not a solicitation for your business if your property is already listed with another agency for 2019 and beyond.