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9 Top Tips for Designing a Vacation Rental Property

At High Point Market 2022, I was honored to be part of Universal Furniture’s panel of expert designers to discuss all things vacation rentals. I am excited to share with you the top tips we discussed in hopes that each will provide you with clear insights into the different perspectives and ways to design a successful vacation rental property. If you would like to dive into more detail about how we design vacation rental properties room by room, check out our book “Decorating and designing your vacation rental”  You can get a copy here.

There are unique design perspectives to consider when designing a short-term vacation rental. We’ve identified these perspectives and created important tips for each:

1. Designing for the rental guest’s comfort and convenience
2. Designing for the Service Industry
3. Designing for Marketing

Tiled shower in bathroom

Tips for Designing for Your Guest’s Comfort

1. Safety First

Designing a vacation rental is the intersection of residential and commercial design. Knowing the local building codes and implementing design elements that uphold the highest safety standards with the appropriate materials will help you limit your liability and keep all guests safe and comfortable in the home. This is where hiring a professional designer can really add a lot of value to your remodel project.

2. Design Choices that Make Everyone Comfortable

It’s your dream vacation home, but to be successful, you need to make choices that will work for everyone, not just your family. Everything from the sizing of seating to the way the bed linens are layered should be designed to work for a variety of people with different tastes and comfort levels.

Patio overlooking the water

3. Highlight the Local Community

Be respectful and acknowledge the unique qualities of the area: you don’t bring Tuscany to the Virgin Islands. There’s a reason why people come to an island getaway. Incorporating local art into the design showcases the talent and character of the area. Ask yourself what you love to do in the community and why you chose this location for your investment. This will help you get a better picture of how to implement the personality of the surrounding area throughout the property’s design and share some of your favorite experiences with visitors.

Tips for Designing for the Service Industry


4. Make it Easy on the Housekeeper

When turn-over days are fast, the housekeeping staff will be able to do a much better job when all items are designed for efficiency and easy cleaning. Extra sheets and slipcovers, well-equipped laundry rooms, and dedicated supply closets are essential elements to a successful rental property and make a world of difference for housekeeping. A helpful addition is to create a bed-making picture book to ensure that all rooms always look pristine and picture-perfect.

5. Empower the Rental Agent

Provide an inventory list to the rental agent or property manager to ensure all items on the property are accounted for. You might want to consider buying backstock of your favorite go-to items, like sheets, pillows, and towels, so there is plenty for guests’ use and to avoid a potential concern your rental agent may face.

Bathroom with freestanding tub

6. Keep detailed records

As a designer, I refresh the design plan book at the end of the project to be sure we have a detailed record of the exact choices that are in the home. Keeping track of items like cleaning directions, paint colors, grout colors, model numbers for shower valves, etc., will make future maintenance much more accessible and streamlined.

Tips for Designing from a Marketing Perspective

7. Insta-Worthy Moments

There is no better advertisement for your property than happy visitors on Instagram! Designing spaces that serve as beautiful backdrops for capturing the perfect photo will help you successfully advertise your rental property before, during, and after any guest visits.

8. Design for Photography

Furniture placement is so important! You want to ensure that it is placed in optimal locations to capture the perfect image. The best marketing photos include full-frame and detailed shots of beautiful interiors and views.

Dinning table set

9. Imagine the Parties

Destination weddings and other celebrations can be big business for any rental villa. Look at the space through that lens. Modular furnishings are often a plus for these types of events. You will also want to plan out the kitchen for the potential use of a catering company and allow for the storage of extra plates, glasses, and other dining items for large gatherings.

There you have it, clear design perspectives and how to effectively appeal to each of them. Don’t forget you can find so much more detail including favorite items and resources in our book “Decorating and designing your Vacation rental.” You can learn more tips and tricks on designing vacation rentals on our blog or connect with us directly. Happy designing everyone!

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