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Dos and Don'ts of Vacation Rental Interior Design

Updated: Sep 24

Article by: Mary Aspen Richardson

Floral arrangement on a nightstand.

Ever since people increasingly started to switch to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the destination real estate market seems to have really hit its stride. In fact, more and more travelers are shifting their focus from hotel stays to private homes either for rental or as a long-term investment, and vacation rentals have started to turn into a steaming hot travel trend. However, there is one sphere where hotels get a leg-up on vacation rentals – interior design. Thankfully, there’s no reason why you couldn’t change that! Ready to learn about some dos and don’ts of vacation rental interior design that will make your bookings go through the roof? Read below!


DO: Invest in durability

Putting a lot of careful thought into your vacation home’s décor will no doubt win you more lodgers. However, with a stream of incoming visitors comes high maintenance, a lot of wear and tear, and accidental damage here and there. So, how do you decorate a space so that it can stand up to wear and tear and damage that even the best-behaved among the renters will do? To keep it short and sweet – by investing in high quality, durable pieces and materials that wear well.


High-quality materials, especially in high traffic areas, such as a kitchen, is a great investment.

In other words, what you need is a palette of materials that can withstand high traffic while still appearing stylish and comfortable. It’s best to pick out materials that only get better with age, such as leather, teak, or stone. This way, rather than getting worked up about a new scuff, you are, in actuality, enhancing the spirit of the place. The thing is - durability always pays off in the long run. Sure, you might need to invest more upfront. However, it will save you from having to invest more into repairs or replacements over time.


DON’T: Take the generic route

Local experience – one of the main things today’s travelers are after when renting out a vacation home. Guests often seek to immerse themselves in the culture of the places they visit. And, naturally, staying in a unique, local home rather than in a conventional, generic hotel room makes this pursuit so much easier. Therefore, it’s best to say no to matching furniture sets and décor that make the space feel unoriginal and sterile. Instead, consider injecting some personality into the space. With carefully chosen and tasteful local art and souvenirs, you can give your property a story to tell. It’ll definitely win some points with guests.


DO: Strive to keep it somewhat simple

At this point, things may seem a bit contradictory. But, try to look at it from this perspective. Yes, you want character. However, you definitely don't want a random hodgepodge and visual chaos. Guests will always prefer renting a room that feels pleasant and puts them at ease, and an invasive décor that includes bright, clashing colors, unusual art choices, knick-knacks, and quirky textiles simply doesn't give the eye a place to land.

So, when choosing your décor, make sure you've considered everything – its color, contrast, proportions, scale, and rhythm. It's all about striving for that perfect balance! Neutrals will provide the ideal foundation on which you can then build on with accent colors. Also, highly edited furniture and minimal but hand-picked accessories that add flare to the space are the best bet when it comes to vacation rental interior design.


DON’T: Leave your personal items in the house

One of the top interior design issues professionals notice in vacation rentals? Owners often tend to forget that it is no longer their personal space. The result? Too much clutter and personal items lying around the house and reminding the guests that they’re staying in someone else’s home.

Too many personal items left behind might make the guests feel like they’re invading someone’s personal space.

Personal possessions like bathroom products, jewelry, clothing, family photos, and important files should be put away. That is, at least until you are using the space yourself. The problem, however, arises when you have to move too much stuff too far away. In such an event, one solution would be to transfer your possessions to your primary residence with the help of a long-distance moving company. Another answer includes placing them in a space that guests have no access to instead of removing them entirely.


DO: Decorate with purpose

When decorating the interior of your vacation property, you should always bear functionality in mind. In other words, each piece of furniture should work to be functional for the guests instead of merely matching the property owner's specific needs.

For instance, make sure each bedroom is outfitted with a pair of bedside lamps for comfortable reading. And, if you want to ensure that your guests feel truly pampered and comfy in your rental, treat the bedroom windows with solar blackout shades. Next, an ottoman, chair, or bench are all great pieces to have, so visitors always have an easy place to drop their bag or suitcase the second they walk into the room. Similarly, you should always take your target customer into consideration. Suppose that you cater to families. Then, it's only reasonable you'll try to make your home as child-friendly as possible. This will include things like:

  • Removing all fragile and sharp decorative items;

  • Making sure that everything is well protected and properly functioning;

  • Etc.


One of the most important things to keep in mind when decorating a space is functionality!

DON’T: Forget to add thoughtful touches

No vacation rental interior design is complete without some finishing touches. These are the little details that make the entire experience of staying in your rental so much enjoyable for the guests. Besides necessary supplies such as paper goods (soaps, toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towels), cleaning basics, basic cooking ingredients, and commonly used cookware, this will include small gestures such as a handwritten welcome note, a vase of fresh flowers on the table, cold beverages in the fridge for their refreshment, etc. It is thoughtful extras such as these that will make your guests' experience truly memorable, and, hopefully, they will take better care of the place. Not to mention that they're more likely to write you a killer review!

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