Imagine this: you’re going on vacation, so you head to Airbnb, VRBO, or a similar booking site to find the perfect rental. As you’re browsing you come across a beautiful home on the beach with an affordable rate, so you click to view more. To your astonishment, the rooms aren’t lacking design – they’re completely empty! Confusion sets in. Where are you supposed to sleep? Do they expect you to sit on the floor? So, of course, you quickly bail and start the search again.
As a short-term rental property owner, this should seem absurd. Of course you would never list an empty property for rent. But if this is your first rodeo, you may not see a clear, easy path to furnishing your place – much less in a well designed and appealing manner. So where do you start? To help you on this journey, we joined forces with hotel designer, Michael Kramer to provide you with a few solid tips that will assist you in turning your empty or outdated place into an attractive and profitable rental property.
Photo: Gurney’s Resort, design by Michael Kramer
Don’t Forget: You’re Creating an Experience
The stories are true: furnishing a short-term rental property can be tricky. You want to create an amazing space that is both functional and inviting for guests, but without breaking the bank. With over 800,000 short-term rental properties in the United States, it has become increasingly more important to differentiate your property. How you furnish the space can transform the property and make all the difference in attracting travelers.
Michael Kramer, creator of the stunning suites at Gurney’s Resort in Montauk, New York, emphasized the importance of space in creating amazing experiences. Michael’s ideal travel experience includes a “cold bottled water, a phone charger, and a good well-worn book on the nightstand.” Providing for the guests’ needs and happiness is perhaps the number one consideration.
Here are some of Michael’s tips for creating the best travel experience for travelers:
1. Make the space as comfortable as possible
When decorating a vacation rental property, it is important to weigh the balance between abundant hospitality and the need for the space to “feel clean, open and airy.” As far as creating comfort, Michael values the influence of texture, color and lighting: “Textures that are soft and inviting and colors that are not too aggressive can make any space comfortable.”
2. Art can make any space more meaningful
An art lover, Michael suggests that your space includes, “at least one unique piece of artwork.” An item that’s genuine, personal, and has a story will catch someone’s attention. Art doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious to be considered good. Adding personal touches to a unit makes the space more authentic, something that attracts travelers to short-term rental properties.
3. Select appropriate lighting
For a homey feel, pay attention to how a room is lit, “including the light bulbs.” Bright lights often make a space feel less homey and, as Michael put it, “more like the deli department at your local Costco.”. He encourages owners to invest in blackout curtains so jet lagged guests aren’t woken up by early morning brightness. A good night’s sleep is vital to beating jet lag.
4. Less is more
Keeping items “tucked away” is fine, and in fact Michael says, “I love experiences that are not in your space but force you to explore.” He gives the example of “vintage subway maps on the inside of an armoire” in a New York apartment. He adds that avoiding clutter is also paramount: “you need to have everything everyone would need, but nothing anyone can see…less is more on vacation.”
5. Create a space that makes YOU happy
Creating a space that your guests like is important, but, at the end of the day, the space is yours and you want it to be special to you. Michael explains, “I don’t believe in following all the ‘Design Rules’. Everything in the room doesn’t have to be the exact same shade of emerald green…As long as you follow the design principles of scale and proration, any pieces you choose to mix can work together in harmony.”
Some of best ways of improving guests’ experiences are through thoughtful and realistic design choices. The impact of design on the desirability of a property is dramatic. Paying close attention to the way you dress a space will have a large impact on the number of guests who stay at your property and return on investment. Travelers don’t just want to go somewhere on their trip, they want to experience it.