An Interior Design Guide for Vacation Rentals

January 14, 2023

Investing in a vacation rental property can be a smart financial move. There’s a growing demand for vacation rentals, with revenues having increased by 70% or more year-over-year, according to data from

When you invest in a vacation rental like a beach condo or mountain home, you’re generating extra income, and there may be tax advantages.

With that being said, the competition is high, and if you’re going to maximize your revenue from a rental, it needs to be a standout. The first introduction people will have to the rental is online, so you need it to photograph beautifully to get attention. Then, once renters are staying there, you want them to continue to feel like your home is tasteful and well-appointed.

The following are some things to keep in mind when it comes to interior design for your rental.

Consider the Location

If you’re decorating a vacation rental, you want people to feel like they truly are on vacation. With that in mind, consider the setting. If you’re furnishing an oceanfront condo in Florida, for example, integrate coastal design elements into the home. Maybe you do so in your color palette with shades of blue and green, or you could use natural materials like rattan and linen.

If you have a mountain cabin, think about warmth and coziness, and pull from the natural inspiration around the house. Maybe, for example, you have a focal point that’s a piece of mountain-inspired art in the main living room. If you’re on a river, you might add framed maps of that river. If it’s a ski destination, perhaps you hang vintage skis.

There are a lot of little things that you can do to incorporate the specialness of the location without making it feel cheesy or overdone.

While you don’t want to go overboard with any one theme, you do want to customize your vacation rental to its location. This will make it distinctive.

Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Renter

If you haven’t stayed in a private vacation rental, maybe spend a couple of days in one before you start making any big design decisions.

This will help you see things from the perspective of your potential renters. You can think about what you liked and didn’t like, how the design of the space made you feel, and what you’d ideally do differently.

Your rental isn’t going to appeal to everyone, so really try to think about the people most likely to rent your home and what they’d like.

Keep Things Simple

When you keep your interior design simple, you’re achieving a few things. First, simple design feels chic and elevated. You want to minimize the accessories, and when possible, use neutrals as your foundational color palette, with some accent colors added in.

The benefit of keeping things simple aside from the fact that it’ll give you a more sophisticated overall look is that everyone’s going to have different tastes. You don’t want bad reviews from renters because their style and taste aren’t the same as yours.

If you keep things simple, you reduce the risk of this happening.

Plus, a simple, airy space is also going to feel more relaxing. Cluttered or overwhelming spaces take away from the focus of being on vacation, which is to unwind.

If you keep the overall color palette and design concept simple, you can still add visual interest by integrating varying textures and materials.

Design with Function In Mind

You want your spaces to be aesthetically pleasing, but you also have to design with function in mind.

Think about how the space is going to be used.

For example, every bedroom needs bedside tables and shades that will block out light for late sleepers. You also want to include a chair or bench in each bedroom that can become the place where visitors will put their luggage.

Keep the linens crisp, and add some additional blankets at the foot of the bed for cozy layers.

As well as consideration toward functionality, make sure you’re choosing materials that can withstand wear and tear.

There will be children and families in your rental, more than likely, and all kinds of guests in and out, so make sure you’re not having to frequently replace key items because they weren’t designed for a lot of wear or for longevity.

While you’re thinking primarily about renters when it comes to function, don’t forget about your cleaners. They’re an important part of your rental business, and you don’t want to make things unnecessarily hard on them. Try to avoid soft surfaces like carpets as much as you can, and don’t go overboard on items that are hard to clean, like comforters and blankets you can’t put in the washing machine.

Mix Old and New

If you’re on a budget and you’re furnishing and designing a vacation rental, consider mixing old and new. You can shop for used and vintage items at a discount and then combine them with newer items.

Not only are you saving money, but you might find some treasures along the way, and this approach to design will give the space a unique, curated feel.

While talking about mixing old and new, there’s another tip to keep in mind—avoid matching sets of furniture.

It can be tempting to go with a showroom floor of furniture because it’s easy, everything’s done for you, and it might be less expensive. That, however, is going to make your home feel unoriginal and probably dated.

Don’t Neglect Your Outdoor Spaces

Finally, your outdoor spaces are important too, and they can be a big draw for your guests. You want to create conversation areas so that your guests can truly use any available outdoor spaces. Add lighting and make sure you have outdoor storage for items when they aren’t being used.

You might have one area of outdoor space dedicated to lounging, and one for dining, as examples. Even if you just have a small patio, add some furniture and thoughtful touches to make it an amenity.



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