Choosing Vacation Rental Furnishings: 5 Tips
April 20, 2015 |
All vacation home owners have been dreaming of their homes or apartments since long before they got the keys. If you are one of those people, chances are, whatever place you are able to afford will not be guest-ready the day you close on it. More likely than not, you will have a limited budget to work with, and dreams that are bigger than your resources.
As you start preparing your house for renters, you’re also at the beginning of an unavoidable battle between lavishing all your love and too much money on your new home and being realistic about the parade of guests you’re hoping to bring through your place. As the new love of your life, your vacation home will become a pet project that you have to keep under control. Always remember, with the many guests you’re hoping to host, it will not be the best place for you to put your “forever” furnishings and treasures…just yet.
Don’t despair! Choosing vacation rental furnishings and the foundation colors of your home can be fun, satisfying and practical. Although every home and situation is different, as a recent veteran of this war between wishes and needs, I want to share a few lessons I’ve learned, to help you get through this important time in planning the basic foundation for your vacation rental success.
Choose a Neutral Backdrop.
The odds are, you’re going to need to paint…something…everything. I love color, but my advice is that whatever you paint should be white or neutral. A few great reasons:
- Using one color throughout your home may actually cost you less money.
- White or neutral walls make your home bright and they don’t alienate any particular group of potential guests.
- White or neutral walls provide a blank canvas (year after year) for your choice of furnishings. If all you can afford is the funky-colored clearance couch, you will be thanking yourself for the white or neutral walls! Painting your walls a neutral color doesn’t mean your house will be boring. Let your furnishings bring the color.
- Touch-ups will be a breeze. When the roof leaks or a child drags a marker across the wall, you can get out that same can of paint every time, not worrying about buying another gallon of a special color that may be hard to track down.
Be Smart about Sleeping Arrangements.
How often have you been excited about renting a vacation home for your family or a group of friends, only to find that the beds in the rooms provide the wrong sleeping arrangements? You can’t possibly please everyone, but you should make sure that your sleeping arrangements provide a variety of options that make maximum use of your available space. For example, our 3-bedroom home might have been set up with two queen beds and a double or a twin. Instead, we chose to use the second-largest room as a bunk room, and we made sure the bunks we purchased were sturdy enough for adults to sleep in. As a result, our home can now comfortably sleep a maximum of 8 people in three separate rooms. If you’d like to read more tips on creating the perfect bunk room, be sure to check out my dedicated post with my 5 biggest tips!
It’s actually pretty rare that we are truly hosting 8 people, but having that flexible configuration creates a large range of sleeping options for groups of 5 to 8 people. We still get parties of just 2 people sometimes in the off season, so we’ve learned that you cast your net pretty wide when you are creative with your sleeping spaces!
Also, remember that if a bed is uncomfortable for you to sleep on, it’s probably uncomfortable for other people. You want guests to mention the comfort of your beds in their reviews, and you want your own bed to be comfy when you’re sleeping in it, yourself! My advice is to spend that little extra to get beds you’ll want to keep…and then put really good waterproof pads on them to protect them for years to come.
Plan for Living Room. Literally.
Think about the maximum number of people your house sleeps. Could they all sit down (not on the beds, smart aleck) at the same time? Can you imagine all your guests happily engaged in activities in the house at the same time? Can they all eat at your dining table together? Make sure your house is set up for living and not just for sleeping.
Our dining table seats a maximum of 10 people. If guests are lounging, five of them can sit in the living room while three others are watching TV or playing Wii in the sun room. Our dining room also doubles as an office during the day, where multiple people can flip open their laptops and use the WiFi for those inconvenient vacation work calls. Whatever plan your house has, make it work for the size of group you plan to accommodate.
Above all, be realistic. It’s no good cramming a bunch of beds into a house that is too small for all those people to hang out on a rainy day. Guests will not thank you for that. In fact, they are likely to “not thank you” on your reviews on the internet.
Nobody loves your house like you do. No…really…nobody loves your house like you do. No matter how nice your guests are, some of them are going to make choices in your vacation rental you would not have made, such as tracking mud into the house, putting wet water glasses on your coffee table, and setting hot dishes on your dining table. You can’t prevent all of these choices, but you can be prepared.
When you choose a finish for a table, consider how easy it will be to buff out rings and fix scratches. For example, (and I am in no way affiliated with Rustoleum) we made a nearly indestructible farm house table and sealed it with Bulls Eye Shellac. Bulls Eye does show rings when hot items are placed on it, but those rings easily blow out with a hairdryer and are covered with a fresh coat of shellac.
I read a lot of forum posts and articles from vacation rental owners who lamented that their dining chairs were constantly being broken. With that in mind, we made long benches for our farm house dining table. They’ve worked like a charm and we’ve had nothing to replace.
What about carpets? Make them a color that doesn’t show every trace of dirt tracked in. If you are facing a choice between carpeting and hardwood or tile, the latter two will be easier to clean after each group of guests. One benefit of not having any carpets is that your home can be more allergen-free, as well. Some guests with severe allergies may actually choose your carpet-free home for that reason. Not everyone can or should dispense with their carpets, of course! However, if you’re changing flooring, normal wear-and-tear should be one of your considerations.
Replace Yucky Old Appliances
You know what I mean. You move into a house and the fridge is functional, but it creeps you out, right? Your dishwasher is still working…sort of. However, the bottom rack always goes off the rails and it smells funny no matter what you do. If you are noticing these things about your appliances, the guests will notice, too, and it may bother them. Also keep in mind that if your appliance is on its last leg at the moment, it may well break during your rental season. If you are booked full with same-day guest turnovers or you live remotely, that is a situation that could give you a few gray hairs and end up costing you a fortune.
You know your budget best, but my advice is to replace older appliances as you can afford to do so, in the order of need. Many new Energy Star models are available at reasonable prices that will also help you save on utilities. The bonus is that you can talk about your new appliances in your listing! What visitor doesn’t like that? Remember that you don’t have to get stainless steel or top-of-the-line. A basic appliance that is clean and functional will probably meet your needs for many years and keep guests perfectly happy.
There’s so much to discuss in the realm of vacation home decorating, so check out my next post on the finer and more exciting points of decorating your vacation home!
Are you a vacation rental owner? What tips would you share about planning vacation rental furnishings? Leave us a comment!