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Tips on Designing & Decorating Your Vacation Rental

Laveta Brigham

If you’re thinking about buying investment property or turning your own home into a part-time vacation rental, creating the perfect experience goes beyond surface-level aesthetics. It’s about capturing the essence of your property’s location, ensuring comfort and convenience, and adding personal touches that resonate with your guests. In this Redfin […]

If you’re thinking about buying investment property or turning your own home into a part-time vacation rental, creating the perfect experience goes beyond surface-level aesthetics. It’s about capturing the essence of your property’s location, ensuring comfort and convenience, and adding personal touches that resonate with your guests. In this Redfin article, we dive into essential strategies to transform your short-term rental (STR) into a haven of relaxation and delight. From crafting a captivating first impression and infusing your unique personality into the design to practical tips on vacation rental maintenance and entertainment, we cover every aspect to help you excel in the competitive world of vacation rentals (VRs).

Discover how to curate spaces that resonate with the culture of your locale, whether it’s the beachy vibes of Oklahoma City or  Katy, Texas. Learn from industry experts and seasoned hosts who share insights on interior design, hosting strategies, and the art of leaving lasting impressions. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and inspiration needed to create a standout vacation rental that not only delights guests but also ensures their return for unforgettable getaways and more five-star reviews.

interior design of a vacation rental

1. Make a memorable first impression

“A significant point of pride for us in our business is the warm welcome we extend to our guests, as you only have one chance to create an outstanding initial impression. The finer details hold importance; thus, presenting guests with a welcome basket of delights conveys the message, ‘we are delighted you’re here.’ Nothing quite embodies the essence of ‘welcome’ as freshly picked flowers from our local Farmer’s Market,” suggests Carlsbad & Oceanside Airbnb Rental Property Management by Grand Welcome.

“Additionally, we offer Carlsbad Water, popcorn, exquisite chocolates, and an array of teas. This is the same manner in which you would greet your own family; and we believe guests deserve nothing less. Moreover, we furnish premium quality soaps and toiletries that resonate with the calming oceanic vibes of the area.” 

welcome note for arriving guests

Courtesy of Carlsbad & Oceanside Airbnb Rental Property Management

2. Elevate your vacation rental’s design by adding in your personality and history

“Transform your Airbnb interior design by seamlessly weaving in distinctive elements that eloquently narrate your personality and the history of the locale. Embolden your space with striking accents, such as vivid hues and captivating lighting fixtures, to amplify its allure,” Hostaway. “However, exercise caution with an all-white interior, considering the upkeep expenses it might incur. Breathe vitality into the environment through the inclusion of indoor plants, but conduct thorough research to accommodate potential guest allergies, particularly among families with children and pets.”

3. Integrate visually tasteful features that are easy to maintain 

“When selecting upholstery materials, it’s advisable to opt for options that are easily washable. For instance, when it comes to barstools, we recommend utilizing vinyl or leather fabrics. While incorporating plants into your spaces offers numerous benefits, relying on housekeepers to maintain their vitality can pose a challenge. This is why we suggest considering artificial plants, which provide a touch of contrast while maintaining a perpetually vibrant appearance,”  recommends Stay Locations.

“Complying with local occupancy restrictions, whenever applicable, offering a sofa bed serves as an excellent strategy to augment the number of occupants and significantly boost your financial returns. Introducing integrations with remote door lock apps not only reduces the host’s workload but also enhances guest security by ensuring regular code changes.”

4. Decorate according to your location

“Part of a vacation is where you stay, so choosing an aesthetic that matches the location and why someone is visiting is important,” recommends KeyVest. “We specialize in vacation rentals along the Jersey Shore, so for our area we see a lot of beachy themes and color schemes. To get a classy look for any location, decorate with neutral colors and accent with the theme of your vacation destination.”

KeyVest Vacation home_Jersey Shore

Courtesy of KeyVes

5. Hiring professional interior designers and photographers

“In this short-term rental market, professional interior design is essential if you want to remain competitive. Premier interior and exterior design paired with professional photography and standout amenities will not only get your property a higher average daily rate and occupancy rate, but it will make a long-lasting five-star impression on your guests to garner repeat bookings,” suggests Hometeam Vacation Rentals.

6. Capitalizing on your short term rental’s best features and targeting your audience

“As a local investor and property manager, the initial consideration revolves around identifying your target audience,” says Nathaniel Berger from Anchor Down Real Estate. “A crucial aspect involves conceptualizing the design of your short-term rental, taking into account the distinctive attributes your property possesses, and strategizing on how to leverage them effectively. Integrate these features into your listing to create a truly unique impression and distinguish your property from the multitude of alternatives in the vicinity. It’s essential to provide something memorable that will resonate with potential renters as they sift through countless photos during their quest for the ideal property.”

7. Partner with artists to upgrade your STR’s interior design

“At Casa Rooms, we believe in going beyond traditional property management practices. Our partnership with Sara, a local business owner, allows us to infuse artistry into our services, offering a truly unique and immersive experience,” shares Casa Rooms. “By combining our expertise in property management with Sara’s artistic talents, we create spaces that inspire and captivate tenants and property owners alike.”

casa rooms property management art

Courtesy of Casa Rooms

8. Pay for guest subscriptions for seamless entertainment

“When people go on vacation, they don’t want to have to learn a new TV system. Or have to remember their login information for any TV subscriptions they might have at home (Hulu, Peacock, etc.),” says Leah Ingram. “That’s why we’ve installed Roku TVs in all of our vacation rentals (we have two in Maine). Also, we’ve purchased subscriptions specifically for guests. Then, we include instructions in our booklet on how to log in so they can watch their favorite shows without a hassle.”

9. Balancing aesthetics and comfort

“One common pitfall I frequently observe is hosts focusing on creating picture-perfect spaces for photoshoots, often overlooking the practical livability of the home. Guests might be enticed by stunning header images but could end up disappointed if the sofa proves uncomfortable, there’s a shortage of chairs for communal dining, or the pillows don’t suit their preferences,” shares Breathe Vacation Rentals

“Furthermore, a valuable piece of advice for hosts is to infuse their unique personality into the space. Embrace items like that antique hutch stored in the basement or the eclectic art collection amassed over the years. When done thoughtfully, these elements can serve as captivating focal points, setting your listing apart from the uniform offerings.”

Breathe Vacation Rentals property

Courtesy of Breathe Vacation Rentals

10. Go beyond what your guest sees on your VR listing 

“Cover all the essentials in your well-equipped kitchen. Beyond providing cooking utensils and homeware, make sure to maintain a supply of basic pantry staples like salt, sugar, olive oil, and coffee. This added convenience is sure to be appreciated by your guests,” recommends Palm Springs Airbnb Vacation Rental Property Management by Grand Welcome.

“Go the extra mile by offering abundant linens for the entirety of your guests’ stay. Alongside fitting each room with fresh sheets, consider placing an additional set of properly sized sheets, pillowcases, and towels in every room. Your meticulous organization will save guests from the hassle of searching for essentials.

Design your property to cater to both your needs and those of your guests. Dedicate a portion of the home to private, secure storage for the homeowner. Utilizing a locked safe allows for the safeguarding of valuables and important documents, while also providing a discreet place to store maintenance and cleaning equipment.

Create the desired ambiance with a variety of lighting options for each guest. Maximize the use of natural light to create an inviting atmosphere. Overhead lighting presents an opportunity to make a statement with distinctive fixtures that highlight distinct living areas, such as a chandelier above a dining table. Floor-level lamps offer softer lighting for moments of relaxation.”

11. Design and decorate your VR as if it were your home

“Always stay at least one night in your own rental and do everything. Cook, bathe, shower… What would make it better? What finishing touches would add “thoughtful host” to the guest’s review? For inspiration, look through Architectural Digest or on Pinterest for design ideas to steer your purchases. Steal ideas, take risks, and have fun,” suggests the Walker Sisters.

“If you are in a beachy town, that’s probably a reason visitors are coming there, use light fabrics and natural colors to create a soft and airy feel. If you are in a big city, get inspired by the culture and neighborhood around you. Lean in, or go in an opposite direction – either way, your guests will enjoy a specific and curated vibe.” 

Walker Sisters interior design

Courtesy of Walker Sisters

12. Adding delicate nuances and thoughtful details goes a long way

“I believe what makes a VR design really powerful is the subtleties and the small details. It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing, but my recommendations would be to do something bold and beautiful. If you make a beautiful Airbnb, you will always be booked,” Stay Flourish says.

“For example, amber bottles with premium soap, high quality sheets, lucious plants, and fixtures that accentuate natural light. These seemingly small touches evoke a sense of personal touch and care. You didn’t just go for baseline functionality or cut corners to ‘just get by.’ You put intention into every nook and cranny as if it were your own home.”

Stay Flourish interior design of short term rental

Courtesy of Stay Flourish

13. Use a less is more approach

“A significant amount of effort goes into designing and maintaining vacation rentals. Our foremost objective when designing and furnishing vacation rentals is to create an ambiance that is consistently light, bright, and inviting,” Bluewater Vacation Rentals suggests. 

“Our aim is for vacationers to experience a true home away from home, setting vacation rentals apart from hotels. Each property boasts a unique appearance while embodying a California casual aesthetic that appeals to visitors seeking the San Diego experience.

Furnishing vacation rentals demands a ‘less is more’ approach. Prioritize quality over quantity, offering essential amenities without cluttering spaces or overspending on unnecessary items.”

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