I lead Vacasa Interior Design, a program that increases financial returns for homeowners by styling and furnishing vacation rentals. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my tenure in the business, it’s that travelers want an idyllic vacation in a beautiful setting—and they’ll pay more for that experience.
Investing in smart design choices is a great way to accomplish this, leading to increased guest demand and boosting the overall quantity of positive reviews. Revamping a vacation home can quickly get homeowners more bang for their buck, boosting revenue by huge margins.
If you own or manage a vacation home, and you’re feeling like it might be time for a refresh, you’re probably right. As vacation rentals continue to grow in popularity, it can be challenging to make sure yours stands out from the crowd and get the visibility—and love—it deserves.
When prioritizing interior projects, consider the reasons people go on vacation to begin with, and why they might choose a home over a hotel. Starting with “why” before diving right into the tactical will lead to more meaningful and impactful updates. In my time in property management and design in this industry, I’ve discovered the following truths about motivations of travel:
- People are looking for a home that is a notch above what they currently live in. Or, at least decidedly They are looking for a new experience — something to break the routine and allow them to indulge. Maybe that’s living out a childhood dream of staying in a treehouse. Maybe it’s the to-die-for oceanfront California home they never thought they’d get to experience. Perhaps a secluded cabin heated primarily by a wood stove. Unique and elevated is what they are after.
- Homes allow space to live and breathe. It’s the small moments that add up to a remarkable vacation. Sharing coffee on the porch with the cousin you haven’t seen in years. Staying up late with your coworker, dreaming up a new initiative. Telling ghost stories in front of a fireplace. Swapping quiche recipes over brunch in a fully stocked kitchen. Laughing over a botched round of charades. All of these precious moments actually require space!
So, keeping these truths in mind, here are a few tips to inspire your interior design journey, and help you make informed decisions:
Build Your Common Spaces Based on Human Interaction
Arrange furniture with thoughtfulness and intention. Guests often gather in the living room and around the kitchen, so make sure people can get in and out of these areas without too much hassle. Think about how the conversation will flow naturally, and where they will want to sit or stand in each respective space. Though TVs are an essential amenity for many guests, you can include a great flat screen without centering the whole living room around it. Facing chairs and sofas toward each other will build stronger connections, which is what vacations are all about!
Electric cords, lighting and items on bookcases are often overlooked as being inconsequential, but the way they’re presented can completely alter the appearance and feel of a vacation rental. Equip shelves with tasteful books and visually pleasing—but useful—accessories, such as maps, that can spark conversations between guests and conjure up happy memories. Wall-mounted lighting looks modern and saves space. Plus, you can tuck cords away or tack them along the walls — doing so will create a much cleaner look and ensure guests don’t trip on a cord on their way to the bedroom.
Set up Your Kitchen for Success
Ever notice how at every party, everyone ends up in the kitchen, even if it’s tiny? That happens on vacations too. Maximize your circulation space as much as possible and provide extra hang-out space via kitchen islands with barstools or reimagining the flow between kitchen, dining and living areas.
Proper layered lighting in kitchens is crucial both for creating ambiance, and for aiding in the specific tasks that happen there. Pendant lighting over an island, under cabinet lighting and overhead lighting should all be considered.
Add Some Extra Luxury in the Bedrooms
By the time many guests finally find themselves on vacation, they are tired! Whether just from long travel days, or long weeks, months and even years leading up to this highly anticipated vacation, they are hoping for some rest and relaxation. This is their chance for a perfect night’s sleep — even the best night’s sleep. We all need it!
Make sure you always have plenty of pillows. As a rule of thumb, there should be at least two bed pillows per guest, plus an accent or two. Offer a couple different bedding options, like a duvet and an extra blanket or throw. This will give picky sleepers choices. And, as a bonus, multiple blankets or duvets create a desirable textured look that appears more luxurious in photos. Bedside tables and lamps are a must for both sides of the bed to make sure that a night owl can read while their partner rests, and that there’s a spot for glasses and cups. These elements can be used for character as well, upping your elegance or showing off your quirky side. Details like this have a way of really defining a space.
Find Your Home's Potential
Every home has a story, something that makes it unique. It’s important to understand each home’s potential and play it up. Maybe there’s a great outdoor area that is currently under-utilized. Perhaps there’s an expansive master suite that doesn’t take advantage of the perfect spot for a reading nook with a view. Whatever the home’s special feature may be, make sure you’re showing it off.
Part of this also involves investing in great photography, because we all know first impressions matter. It’s worth putting dollars behind images you love, to earn optimum listing visibility. And, consider 3D photography so guests can embark on a virtual tour and examine every corner.
All of these considerations make a world of difference. But, you don't have to take my word for it. Check out the following before and after shots to see firsthand how drastically a space can be transformed to increase vacation rental revenue and enhance guest experiences.
Project Timeline: 1 week
Scope: Paint, rug, accent pillows, light fixture, mirror, lamp
Revenue Impact: 29.6% increase in 11 months
It doesn’t have to take much money to make a big visual impact. Never underestimate how contrast and color can completely transform a space.
*All images can be credited to Vacasa.
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