Discover expert tips on how to decorate a short-term rental into a stylish space. Elevate your hosting game with interior designer-inspired decor.

Travelers today make their booking choices based almost entirely on photos. Long before you list your vacation rental or hire a photographer to capture professional pictures, there's one essential obstacle to surpass: how to decorate a short-term rental.

Styling your vacation rental is tricky. Unlike decorating your own space, a vacation home must combine beauty with comfort tailored to your ideal guest's taste. However, as the vacation rental industry grows, interior design plays a vital role in standing out.

Whether you have a bed and breakfast or a luxury villa by the sea, picking the right vacation home furniture can add character to your property. In this guide, we'll share our top vacation rental interior design tips to make your house pop and attract more visitors.

Tips on Vacation Rental Interior Design

1. Decide on the Experience

Resist the urge to shop for random furniture for your vacation rentals. The first step to a beautiful house interior is identifying how you want your rental property to feel. Different textures and patterns create a sensory experience that releases emotions.

For instance, calming environments can lower blood pressure and stress levels. On the other hand, bright and energizing environments can keep guests on the edge of their seats. Ask yourself what experience you want to offer guests, which will inform the rest of your design decisions.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
Vacation rental bedroom ideas, furniture for rental properties

2. Choose a Theme and a Color Palette

The next step in decorating a short-term rental is picking your design theme and color palette. Consider who your ideal guests are, and offer them a vacation rental home that matches their needs. For instance, an exclusive, edgy interior theme will be more suitable if visitors belong to the upper class.

Here are more ideas to inspire you:

  • Mid-century modern: simple, straightforward silhouettes, quiet fabrics, and an emphasis on functionality. Mostly neutral tones with various creams and light shades of blue and green.
  • Industrial: a combination of brick, glass, and exposed pipes; it emphasizes clean lines and effortlessly cool aesthetics. Lots of greys, blacks, and whites, with rare pops of green.
  • Bohemian: free-spirited with vibrant colors (especially red and purple), emphasis on nature, and a laid-back atmosphere.
  • Gothic: moody and dramatic ambiance with lots of black, red, and deep purple. Intricate patterns, carvings, and decorative motifs such as heraldic symbols.
  • Minimalism: a fresh and open feel, keeping furniture to a minimum. Negative space is super important; color palettes focus on whites, greys, and accent hues.
  • Art Deco: bold colors, flashy elements, and jewels. Inspired by the 1920's French aesthetic of The Great Gatsby, it's all about geometric shapes, patterns, glass, mirrors, and exotic touches. We call it bold elegance.
  • Rustic: inspired by the beauty of nature, it's all about organic elements, wooden furniture, and exposed grains that create a warm and rugged atmosphere.
How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
Vacation rental interior design ideas

3. Honor Your Location

Your location will determine a huge part of your interior design choices. Guests expect your decoration to match your house's location, so buy vacation rental furniture cautiously. There's no point in decorating a cottage with luxurious items - guests picked it for the warm and cozy vibes, so your furniture should match it.

For instance, if you rent a beach house in a coastal town, adding small touches like a nautical map, a compass, a ship's wheel, or vintage sea-inspired artwork will leave a lasting impression. On the other hand, renting a vacation property amidst the mountains with a lighthouse-themed decoration won't be what potential guests are looking for.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a vacation rental on a budget

4. Consider Materials and Manufacturing

Your interior design theme will directly influence your chosen materials. For a rustic theme, go for wooden beds, chairs, dining, and coffee tables. On the other hand, for an industrial theme, metal or steel items will match that vibe.

When picking your furniture, ensure they're of high quality. Although most guests are respectful to your home, accidents do happen. Additionally, with so many guests staying in your rental property, be ready to see some wear and tear and scratches here and there.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a short-term rental

5. Keep Housekeeping in Mind

Guests are not the only "regulars" in your vacation home. After every stay, housekeepers must clean and sanitize all furniture pieces, ensuring they're ready for the next tenants. To make their lives easier, opt for items that are easy to clean without a lot of fuss.

For instance, avoid high-pile or shag rugs that are impossible to run vacuums through. Also, reconsider throw on pillows, as they can't be tossed in the washing machine. Additionally, avoid a maximal interior design theme, as multiple items make it tricky to dust.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a short-term rental

6. Add Easily Replaceable Items

As we all know, items break, get lost, or stolen. The key is to balance vacation rental design with functionality. Focus on easily replaceable details so you won't mind if something happens. For example, opt for white coffee mugs, white linens, basic glassware, and simple woven rugs.

Keep that expensive art deco coffee table for your own house, and save that silk bed cover for your bed. Minimize items in your investment property and unclatter your space. Guests will find it appealing, housekeepers will thank you, and you'll save money from replacements. Win-win!

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
Furnishing a rental property checklist

7. Decorate With Local Art and Souvenirs

Build storytelling around your vacation rental home by supporting local artists and small businesses. Inspire guests by displaying art pieces around your vacation rental property and show that you're staying in touch with the local community.

That's not to say use tacky ornaments and cringe fridge magnets. Instead, display beautiful wall hangings, canvas pieces, framed paintings, or ceramic collections. You can even add informational cards with your neighborhood artists' names to impress future guests.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a short-term rental

8. Incorporate Nature

Now, hear us out. Most vacation rental websites tell you to avoid plants when planning your inventory checklist. They need care; they leave dirt behind and might interfere with the four-legged companions. Plus, fake plants are so 80s, and they gather dust.

However, you don't have to be a plant aficionado to keep a few greeneries in your vacation rentals. Plants add vitality to any space, preventing it from looking like another hotel room. They provide guests with an authentic experience and help them feel at home.

Plus, there are many beginner-friendly plant options, such as succulents and snake plants. Pothos, olive trees, and dried stems like eucalyptus also hold up well. If your rental property accepts pets, double-check your plants aren't dangerous for them.

And if you really don't want any plants in your home, there are always botanical art prints as an easy way to bring nature into your short-term rental.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
Vacation rental interior design tips

9. Give Your Outdoor Space Some Love

Don't neglect your outdoor space, as it plays a huge role in elevating guests' experience. Consider how you'll want visitors to use it. Will they be sunbathing by the pool, grilling steaks in the BBQ area, or having picnics while their children play?

Then, purchase outdoor furniture that matches those needs. For instance, lose the inexpensive plastic chairs that easily fall apart and invest in weather-resistant, POLYWOOD® lumber chaise lounges that'll last years. Additionally, create a cozy BBQ corner with a rotisserie and a beautiful dining table with chairs for the whole family to enjoy.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a short-term rental

10. Avoid DIY Assemblies

Although DIY might look like an attractive option when decorating a short-term rental, you'll end up spending precious time, and the results are not guaranteed. Even if you desire to do it yourself or save money from your checklist for furnishing a vacation home, you'll end up with a bigger mess than what you're trying to avoid.

Plus, as a vacation rental owner, your cup is already full. Delaying your rental home's decoration will push back deadlines and cost you in bookings. However, if you want to add a handmade factor to your vacation home, we recommend hiring professionals to do it for you.

How to Decorate a Short-term Rental Like an Interior Designer
How to decorate a vacation rental on a budget

Ready to Decorate Your Vacation Rental Home?

Unlike hotel chains following a relatively rigid design for their rooms, vacation rentals come in different shapes and styles. Adding your personal touch to your rental property's design will give it original character and make it unique.

Don't be afraid to be bold; experiment with colors and art pieces. Your goal at all times should be creating a rental home where guests feel relaxed.

Hopefully, this guide will equip you with the tools on how to decorate a short-term rental effectively. Once that's taken care of, list your property online or create your own direct booking website with Houfy. Start accepting guests, secure the total profit of your bookings, and avoid commission cuts from large OTAs like Airbnb.

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