How to Design a Vacation Rental

July 27, 2021

Now that the world is reopening and we’re able to travel again, I’ve been thinking nonstop about where I want to go next. The list is endless, with multiple cities jumping each other daily for top billing.

Apart from the destination itself, good vibes at travel accommodations are essential. You’re already removed from everything you know (unless you’re a check-three-bags kinda person). We all want an inviting and restful space to recharge between exploring. Your environment when you’re away is crucial to your state of mind. I think that’s why vacation rentals have become so popular. Humans love a home, and I love creating one to be enjoyed.

I like to imagine myself as the traveler in all the various stages and needs during their trip. The weary sojourner ready for a hot shower off the plane. Families sitting around big tables enjoying one another. Cozy movie nights on big fluffy pillows. Morning coffee, enjoying the weather and planning the day's adventures.

When I put myself in the guest’s shoes, I become a better designer for these temporary and transient spaces. And now I’m sharing some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way with you!

The driftwood planter supports the beach motif and adds life to this room.

1. Listen to the client.

This is different for me as a designer than it will be for you. I take into consideration what my clients envision for the space, and I add my design expertise when appropriate. But we as a team, client and designer, are doing the same thing you should do. Put yourself in the traveler’s shoes and think about what they’ll need. This can be anything from a convenient cup of coffee in a well-supplied kitchen to the complimentary boogie boards in the laundry room to light linens in the guest room that gets warming sunrise sunshine. It’s actually very fun, like a mini brain vacation.

Vacation rentals vary in many ways from the other projects I do. My taste is often eclectic and bold with colors, patterns and texture mixed all together. But a rental is meant to please the masses and be reflective of the area. For this beach town rental, I chose coastal blues and shell whites along with other sea-themed elements. I listen to my client (the owner) who has their client (the renter) in mind every step of the way. I jump at the chance to stretch beyond my vision to make someone else’s vision come alive.

Simple elegance is the way to nearly everyone’s heart.

2. Keep spaces open, airy, and uncluttered.

No one wants a bunch of clutter, especially renters. They’re bringing in their suitcases, so they need a place to put stuff! Leave closets empty and bathrooms minimalistic and clean. Similar to a staged home, you want to keep the space depersonalized so any new person can come in and feel like it’s their own.

Plenty of coffee mugs to enjoy your java on a morning stroll.

3. Stock the kitchen with essential cooking and cleaning supplies.

This is less a design tip and more a pro tip. Don’t forget big items like pans, bowls, and silverware. But also don’t forget to leave soap, a sponge, paper towels, and trash bags. Super thoughtful hosts leave Ziploc bags, Tupperware, spice racks, and laundry detergent. This is another time to put yourself in the guest’s shoes; maybe walk through a typical meal or morning to see what essentials are needed as you move through a kitchen.

4. Keep furniture and rugs colorful (maybe even a little dark) and definitely stain-proof.

It’s hard enough to clean up our own spills, but you won’t be present for most of the human errors in your rental. As such, you don’t want a bunch of vulnerable white on your couches and rugs. This big, comfy couch is so inviting for a family game night or mid-afternoon nap, but it’s also stain-resistant and going to hold up well over time. I advise splurging on the nicer stuff, too. Your reviews will thank you for no worn down or stained furniture.

To stay on theme but also protect the fabric, we went for greys and blues in this seating area.

And that’s about it! The rest is up to you - what remodels or upgrades you want to splurge on, what colors and themes you want to employ. Design should be fun, and a rental space enjoyed by hundreds of guests should be no different. Bon Voyage!

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