Hi there, I’m Val from Quill Decor. I’ve dedicated my design firm to creating exciting and relevant content to teach others how to best design and decorate their short-term rental properties. I’m very excited to jump onto the HostGPO site to share some fun tips and tricks about decorating rentals with you!
There seems to be an underlying sense of panic in the short-term rental industry as of late, and it’s not entirely unmerited. Occupancy rates are down across the board and many articles claim it is because markets are becoming oversaturated with rentals.
Although I believe this theory is correct, I also feel strongly that the best way to differentiate yourself and get more bookings is to create a rental that is special. If your property is not unique in any way, you are much more likely to struggle with bookings.
So let’s discuss why design matters for a vacation rental, and the best way to get started with the design process.
I was recently searching for a place for my family to stay in Asheville, North Carolina. We needed a 3-bedroom place ideally, and when searching the various short-term rental channels, Airbnb included, I noticed a trend:
Most of the vacation rentals I was finding all looked the same. Cookie cutter. Generic. Not bad necessarily. But also, FAR from good.
They were completely boring, unoriginal, and lacked any real depth or character. They were NOT memorable or special. At all.
I had a really hard time distinguishing one boring sterile looking place from the next and ended up not booking any of them and instead searched out a well designed boutique hotel.
The point is, the short-term rental market is flooded increasingly with folks trying to get in on this investment property game. This industry is growing! And like any flooded market, you should absolutely invest in ways to differentiate from the masses of beige Ikea sofas inside a boring beige box.
The foundation of your success as an Airbnb host is going to be the design and decor of your property. You can hire the best photographer to capture your place in the right light at the right angles, but if your decor is boring or dated, those photos can only take you so far.
The idea of decorating an entire property to be Insta-worthy can feel really overwhelming to some, so that’s what this post is all about!
Where to start with decorating your Short-Term Rental:
Step 1: Define Your Ideal Guest. In my Short-term Rental Design Course, the very first thing I have my students do is to define their Ideal Guest. Who are you trying to attract to your rental? This is such a critical question.
And you can’t say everyone or anyone with a pulse and a credit card, because although that may be true, it won’t help you create an atmosphere. If you know what your ideal guest is like and what they value, you’ll be able to create a cool space for THEM to enjoy a lot easier.
Hint: This is how you attract the type of guests you’d like to host in your STR. You design it for THEM. And you will attract them.
So how do you define your Ideal Guest? To start, just sit down with a journal or iPad, and dream up an imaginary future guest you hope to host. What are their names? Why are they traveling to the area of your rental, and what are they there to do? (Business, touring, beach-going, etc.) You can really get as creative and detailed as you want with this exercise! The more detail you put into this Ideal Guest profile, the more you’ll understand who it is you’re trying to please with the decor and details of your property.
Step 2: Define the Style. Pinterest and Instagram are great and maybe even essential for design inspiration and research. However, watch out for rabbit holes! If you want to design and decorate your rental on your own, you want to be careful not to aimlessly wander into this adventure without a plan.
Knowing what style you’re after for the decor of your rental is mega helpful BEFORE you head to those major time trap sites that can leave you wondering where you are, what day it is, and why your children are so hungry again. (It’s because you’ve been scrolling for hours!)
Check out my FREE BNB Style Quiz here for some help narrowing down the style of your space. Keep your ideal guest in mind when taking this quiz, and the inherent features of your property. Are you near water for example? Is your rental a cabin in the woods? Take this quiz as many times as you like and be sure to check your email after submitting the quiz for more in-depth information about that style outcome and how to achieve it in your rental property.
Step 3: Image and Inspiration Research. Now that you have defined your Ideal Guest and your Design Style, you can begin to plan and scroll and dream. Be sure when you’re searching to search for your exact style name along with the room. For example, I might type into Pinterest: Eclectic Mid-Century Modern Living Room. I also highly recommend searching Airbnb for properties that stand out and inspire you.
For me, the inspiration search looks something like this: Search around Pinterest, Instagram, and Airbnb, Pin away, fall down a rabbit hole, climb out of the rabbit hole, find more inspiration, pin it, stumble upon some cool blogs to read, keep pinning, and then STOP.
Stop? Yes, stop. Stop pinning. Stop Searching. Why? Because your time is finite, and if you ever want to get this house decorated for guests and ready for business, you’ve got to get cracking on the one million decisions that need to be made.
So stop, then look at what you’ve gathered. Hone in your inspiration to about 4 of your favorite images for each room, and then get away from Pinterest and other apps for a hot minute.
Your 4 fav images all pulled together are what make up an inspiration board or ‘Mood Board’, as I call them. I pull them together in one PowerPoint slide like this:
So you’re inspired, now what?
To find out what’s next for me in the design process, head over to this blog on my website, Quill Decor. This article was adapted from that original post where you can see a case study of this living room design come together with all of the design principles taught here, and more.
Looking for more? Learn about How to Write an Intriguing Description for your Airbnb.