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20 Nov 2020
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Property Management

There’s more to owning a vacation rental than just opening your calendar and hoping for the best! The first impression a guest gets when they walk through your door can set the mood for their whole vacation week, so you want to make sure it’s a good one! Plus, the way your home looks on the website can be the difference between a guest clicking on the “book now” button or clicking on the next house! If you want to make your home look more presentable, here are 6 Interior Design Tips to Help You Get More Bookings.

1. Give your vacation rental a personality!

Don’t be afraid to utilize personal touches. Yes, guests expect to see some beach décor in your OBX vacation rental but generic coastal themed décor you can get at any department store isn’t going to be very memorable. Instead, think about pieces you’d want in your own home—you do own the property after all!

Maybe you found a huge, beautiful shell on the beach, a nice piece of driftwood one day when you were fishing, or an old buoy you picked up at a yard sale. Perhaps you have a favorite indoor house plant you could put on the counter that requires little to no maintenance. These are great pieces to display on a mantle or table. Not only will these unique items bring your personality into the home, but they will help make the guest feel like you really spent time making your house look nice for them. Plus, your room won’t look like it was ordered from a big-name store catalog.

2. Don’t leave the walls blank.

This is another great way to give your rental more personality. Walls make an excellent blank canvas for art pieces and other decorations. Consider using your own photos of a gorgeous Outer Banks sky or a local coffee shop that you love. There are plenty of places that will print these images out for you so that you can frame them yourself.

If you’re not great at photography, no worries! There are plenty of local photographers and artists who sells their prints, sculptures and other pieces. Here are a few local galleries to check out:

Your guests will appreciate seeing what you love about the beach through your own eyes or learning about the area through local artwork.

3. Invest in durable and comfortable furnishings.

This is a big one! You may be thinking that getting cheap furniture will suffice since it’s not furniture you plan on using yourself, but a guest expects to vacation in comfort. Think about a time you’ve gone to a hotel or stayed in a vacation rental and woke up with a bad back because the beds were so hard. Do you want that to be the memory your guests are left with when they check out?

Beds, chairs, and sofas are especially susceptible to wear and tear with so many people using them throughout the year. While you want the furniture pieces to be comfortable, you also want them to last. Consider investing in waterproof materials because the chances are that someone is going to either spill their drink or come in from the pool and sit directly on the furniture at least once or twice! Look for fabrics that don’t wear down or tear easily and cushions or mattresses that won’t start to sink after a few months. It may be a costly expense up front but over the years, you’ll save yourself money (and hassle) of having to replace the furniture at the end of every rental season. And as a bonus, your guests won’t comment about uncomfortable furniture in their review! Plus, no one wants to book a house when the main living room photo shows a sofa that looks like it once sat outside during a hurricane.

Also think about the materials you are using for tables, countertops, and other areas of the house. For example, a glass coffee table might not be the best piece to place in the game room or a bedroom with bunk beds—where you know there will be kids who could accidentally break the glass. The appliances you select are also going to be used by hundreds of people over the course of a rental season and it’s important to make sure they function properly and hold up because these can become very costly to replace, even the cheaper models.

If you aren’t sure where to get the best materials or furnishings for your home, there are plenty of local interior designers and furniture stores who can help! Places like Exotic Homes, Daniel’s Homeport Coastal Furnishings and Manteo Furniture are experienced with the vacation rental industry and are well-equipped to help you select the best pieces for your space. 

4. Choose light, neutral colors.

When you’re decorating your beach house, remember that this house is going to be used by many other people from all over the country who have different design preferences than you. Just because you like a bright red kitchen doesn’t mean that bright red kitchens are for everyone! It’s best to use light, neutral colors on your walls which will not only provide a calming effect for your guests but will provide you a great base to add pops of color through decorations and accents. If you don’t like white walls, shades of beige, light gray, light blue, or even a sea green make great a great wall color, especially in a costal cottage. Then, you could opt for a red coffee pot and red dishware to bring in that pop of bright color!

5. Manage your clutter.

Although we’ve mentioned the importance of decorating, you never want to go overboard! Although this is your home, remember that you are opening it up to others. Treat it like a guest house—and a guest does not want 5 photo frames on their beside table of your family members and friends, no matter how cute the photos are! This will just make guests feel like they are intruding in your space and they will have a hard time getting comfortable or enjoying themselves.

Guests also expect to be able to use closets, dresser drawers, and bathroom shelves for their own items so if you are going to keep extra supplies in the house for when you visit, be sure to keep them confined into one locked owner’s closet or other storage area so you can leave plenty of space for your guests.

6. Create a comfortable layout.

Some homeowners think that they should add as much furniture as possible to fill the rooms in their beach cottage. However, furniture should be as practical and useful as it is decorative. As you start to purchase items, think about the purpose of each room. What will guests do in this room? What do they need to accomplish that task? Then decide if there is still space to get around easily, especially for kids, the elderly, or even pets.

For example, you may think that squeezing two full-sized sofas in a living space would be better to maximize occupancy of that room. However, if doing so means that a guest would have to squeeze behind the sofa to get to the living area, possibly knocking something off a shelf or table, the guest is less likely to appreciate the extra seating space as they are to remember that the home is not easy to navigate. Instead, consider opting for a chair, loveseat, or rearranging the layout altogether.

This also applies if a room is large and spacious. If a TV, for example, is on the wall by the fireplace but the sofa and chairs are 10 feet away, the space will feel disjointed and the guests will likely remember that it was hard to see the TV.

Don’t be afraid to rearrange! Just because the furniture is set up a certain way doesn’t mean it’s set up the most practical way. Consider the flow of the layout and make sure each room has a purpose. Don’t forget to pick a focal point and be conscious of windows, outlets, and other features of the room that you don’t want to cover up.

If you have specific interior design questions, don’t hesitate to ask! We know what our guests like and we are here to help your home rent successfully!

Seaside Vacations Blog Author Jessie See

About the Author: Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with a good book, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure.