Vacation Rental: Staging Tips from Experts

Sep 6, 2023 / Laura Bolt

Owning a vacation rental property is a great opportunity if you’re lucky enough to live in a tourist destination. Get the most out of your vacation rental by incorporating staging tips that are sure to help.

Whether you live steps away from the ocean, near a lakeside retreat, or at the center of a city, travelers are flocking to spaces that let them get away from it all, but still provide the comforts of home.

“Vacation property staging and design should create an elevated and fun experience for the renter,” says Jennie Norris, the Denver-based owner of Sensational Home Staging. “It is a getaway and people are paying money to stay in these properties.”

To get the most bang for your buck and attract guests, it’s important to style and stage your home in a way that appeals to the most people. These staging tips for a vacation rental will fill your home with guests, and memories, for years to come.

1. What Makes a Property a Vacation Rental

staged vacation rental with light walls and hardwood floors decorate with white beside tables, a bed at the center with black frame and light blue bedding

According to Norris, the first thing anyone interested in cultivating a rental property is to check your local rental laws and make sure your property, and any potential renovations, are within zoning restrictions.

Keep in mind some cities, homeowners associations or counties will impose regulations such as the following:

  • Registration and Licensing
  • Transient Occupancy Taxes
  • Minimum rental periods
  • Zoning ordinances

2. How to Furnish a Short Term Rental

Once you know you have a green light to host, you can start decorating and staging.

“The key is investing in furniture that will hold up to regular use – and even abuse. People tend to treat ‘rental’ items differently than when they are at home or personally own the items,” advises Norris. “I have learned through the years that ‘clean’ is a relative term and most people will not care for a rental the way the owner does.”

Any furniture you invest in must be well made and of fabrics that hold up to wear and tear, shared Norris.

When setting up a vacation home, the emphasis should be on durability as well as design, says Christine Cowles, stylist and owner of Vacation Rental Design.

“Wood dining chairs will endure wear by your guests better than a beautiful upholstered dining chair covered in a cream boucle fabric,” she shared.

Choose fabrics and materials that are durable and easy to clean. Look for sofas and chairs made with performance fabrics or leather, which you can wipe down or easily clean than non-performance fabrics.

Cowles also recommends “purchasing sofas and chairs that have zippered cushion covers, so they can be removed and cleaned every few months. Bed Frames made of metal or wood will last longer than upholstered beds, which will show dirt and stains over time.”

If you’re not sure you want to use your vacation home as a rental for the long haul, look into furniture rentals to spruce up your space without the commitment.

Heading on a vacation of your own? Don’t forget to check out these expert packing tips on our blog.

3. How to Make A Vacation Rental Cozy

spacious kitchen with natural wood cabinets along two walls and an island with dark blue and wood accents and light counter top. White and black stools line up on the island under a trio of modern light fixtures above.

While you won’t always know who is renting your space, your home itself can provide a clue as to who you might be hosting.

“If your property is a small studio with stairs, it will most likely be rented by a younger couple, whereas a 5 bedroom home on a lake will likely be rented by families,” says Cowles. “Think about their taste and needs.”

The vacation property should be fully stocked with nice dishes, have bedding/sheets/towels that are of nice quality, throws and blankets (that are cleaned regularly) to stay warm, says Norris.

“A personal home may or may not have matching dishes or silverware, or the latest appliances, but most guests will expect these amenities. Again it is all about the expectations of renters and the competition in the area where the property is located.”

It’s also smart to provide items that make sense for where you live. Think of a collection of beach items if you live by the ocean, a spare umbrella if you live in a rainy area, or recreational gear to use in the mountains or lake.

That way, your guests will have less to think about bringing. Just remember to keep these items clearly labeled and tucked in baskets and bins for easy access and easy organization.

Norris also suggests keeping promotional items for local sites like restaurants and breweries on hand, and even working with local companies to provide discounts for guests for some cross-promotional marketing.

4. How to Style Rental Property

collage of staged vacation rental bedroom with black bed frame and black bedside table, rich green modern chairs and an accent wall palm fronds.

Chances are, anyone renting a vacation home is looking for some R&R. Choose soothing colors and neutral patterns, avoiding anything too busy or distracting.

A well-lit space is also important, especially if your home is being frequented by guests who aren’t familiar with the space. Warmer lighting can also help create an inviting space and a feeling of a home away from home.

While most people are likely to fill their own homes with personal effects and mementos, your vacation home should be more of a clean slate. Cowles recommends swapping personal photos and collections for items that encourage guests to spend time together in your space, like puzzles and games.

While drawers can help keep things out of the way in your own home, Cowles cautions styling you vacation rental with too many drawers. That gives your guests an extra place to leave things behind (and need to have them mailed back).

Making sure things are labeled (in the kitchen, for example) is also a great way to help you guests find their way around.

Keep a guide to the home and the area centrally located for quick access as well.

It may be tempting to inject as much personality into your space as possible, but choosing a few items with character over too many knick knacks is important to keep your space from feeling too crowded.

Your vacation home doesn’t have to be huge to have an impact. Check out our expert tips injecting some big personality into a small space.

Still interested in staging? We’ve got some million dollar tips, right this way.

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