Interior Design Strategies

A row of short-term rental lake houses in front of evergreen trees.

When it comes to furnishing your short-term rentals, using smart interior design strategies will transform your space. Your guests can feel at home while also maximizing the functionality, and the aesthetic appeal, of the property.

Selecting a Cohesive Style

Choosing a cohesive style for your rental is the foundation for creating the type of experience you want to offer. Do you see a modern, minimalist look with clean lines and a neutral palette? Or maybe a cozy, rustic ambiance with warm tones and natural textures? According to a design expert from Maximize Your Space, a thoughtfully selected design theme becomes your rental’s personality. Your property’s style is what can make it memorable and attractive to guests. Consistency in your chosen style is the key.


Furniture: Characterized by sleek, clean lines and often features minimalistic designs. Furniture tends to have a simple, functional, and uncluttered appearance.
Colors: Neutral color palettes are common: think shades of whites, grays, beiges, and blacks. Bold accent colors may be used sparingly to add interest.
Materials: This style incorporates materials like metal, glass, and polished surfaces. Natural materials, such as wood, may be used but often in a more refined and unadorned way.
Space: Emphasis on open spaces, and the design often prioritizes a sense of airiness and light.


Furniture: Think classic and timeless pieces made of solid wood. Furniture often has a more ornate and decorative appearance, reflecting historical styles.
Colors: Rich, warm color schemes of deep reds, greens, and browns. Earthy tones and muted hues are commonly used.
Materials: Wood, particularly dark woods like mahogany and cherry, is prevalent. Fabrics such as silk, velvet, and damask are common for upholstery.
Patterns: Classic patterns like floral, stripes, and plaids are frequently used in upholstery and drapery.
Details: Ornamental details such as moldings, large trim, and decorative accessories contribute to a sense of opulence.


Furniture: Eclectic and often mix-and-match, featuring a variety of styles and periods. It tends to have a relaxed, informal vibe with a focus on comfort.
Colors: A vibrant and diverse color palette, including jewel tones and bold hues. Patterns and prints are embraced, creating a lively and energetic atmosphere.
Materials: Natural and organic materials like wood, rattan, and jute are prevalent. Handmade and artisanal elements contribute to the eclectic feel.
Textiles: Layering of textiles is a key characteristic. It’s common to see a variety of throws, rugs, and cushions in different patterns and textures.
Cultural Influences: This style often incorporates elements from various cultures, showcasing a global and well-traveled aesthetic.

Maximizing Space and Functionality

Every square inch counts in a rental. Furniture should not only be stylish but also functional, providing comfort without cluttering the space. For example, a sofa bed can serve as seating and, when needed, offer extra sleeping space. Interior Insider suggests investing in durable furniture that withstands turnover but doesn’t break the bank. Here are some tips:

  • Use mirrors to create the illusion of more space.
  • Choose coffee tables, ottomans, or benches with built-in storage compartments to maximize space and reduce clutter.
  • A foldable or extendable dining table can accommodate varying numbers of guests offering flexibility in dining arrangements while saving space when not in use.
  • Use nesting tables that can be stacked together or separated based on the need for additional surfaces.
  • Explore wall beds or Murphy beds that can be tucked away during the day, providing more floor space.
  • Integrate smart furniture options, such as a coffee table with built-in charging stations or a sofa with adjustable reclining features.

Decor and Statement Pieces

While neutrals provide a calming base, incorporating colors and statement pieces can add a dash of personality that makes your listing stand out. Strategically placed decor can set the mood and resonate with your target market. Here’s how you can enhance your space:

  • Choose statement pieces that reflect the character of the home.
  • Use decor to add pops of color and texture, balancing aesthetics with comfort.
  • Source local art or statement pieces that highlight the unique aspects of your home.
  • Consider an interactive guest book as a statement piece: think a hometown push pin map, or Polaroid guest selfie collage wall.

Make design choices that entice your guests to leave glowing reviews – and keep coming back for more.

Selecting Essential Furnishings

When you’re ready to furnish your short-term rental, think about both style and function. Your choices can make guests feel at home while still preserving the furnishings’ longevity – and the aesthetic appeal.

Furnishing Must-Haves for Every Rental

Your rental space needs a comfortable and inviting living room. Start with a comfortable sofa, potentially a pullout sofa bed for extra sleeping space, and pair it with a couple of plush armchairs. In the bedroom, focus on comfortable beds with quality linens to give guests a good night’s sleep – one of the most-mentioned aspects in guest reviews. The kitchen doesn’t have to be lavish, but it must include the basics like a simple coffee maker and a set of pots and pans.

Choosing Durable and Functional Items

Prioritize durability in your furnishings to reduce the frequency of replacement. Storage solutions like wall-mounted shelving and closet access are crucial for guests to keep their items organized. Choose materials that can withstand the wear and tear of guests on vacation. Consider secondhand pieces that are durable – and cost-effective.

Sourcing and Buying Furniture

When it’s time to buy, weigh the pros and cons of store-bought versus locally sourced items. Local furniture may add a unique touch, while store-bought items often come with helpful warranties and return options. Places like IKEA offer a range of styles and items with clever built-in storage. Don’t forget to include ample lamps to brighten up the space. Retail surveys show that a well-lit room increases the perceived value of rental space.

By focusing on these fundamentals, you’ll create a welcoming and functional environment for your short-term rental.

Detailing with Accessories and Amenities

A furnished lake house rental property with a mix of high - low furnishings.

Accessorizing your short-term rental is not just about style — it’s about providing guests with a memorable experience that combines both comfort and practicality. Let’s dive into how you can enhance the coziness and convenience of your space with the right touches.

Enhancing Comfort with Decorative Touches

Who doesn’t love sinking into a cushy couch lined with plush pillows after a long day? Not only do throw pillows offer guests a comfy spot to relax, but they also add a splash of color and texture to your rental. Increasingly, travelers value the aesthetic appeal of their accommodation. Take curtains for example: they do more than just block out light; they set the mood. A sheer, breezy curtain can create a soft, inviting atmosphere, while heavier jewe- toned drapes can offer a sense of opulence.

Providing Practical Amenities for Convenience

Travelers these days are looking for all the comforts of home. Don’t forget the essentials like towels—soft, fluffy ones can make any guest feel pampered and inclined to leave a positive review). In the kitchen, having a full set of dishes and tableware is non-negotiable; but, it’s the little touches, like matching on-theme mugs and plates, that show guests you care about their experience.

No one likes to arrive and find they’ve forgotten their shampoo. Adding complimentary toiletries is a thoughtful gesture that won’t go unnoticed. Top it off with a hairdryer at the ready, plenty of hangers in the closet for clothing, and a mirror in each room, and your guests will be grateful for the attention to detail.

Personalizing Spaces to Stand Out

Creating a space that’s uniquely yours can make your property stand out to potential and returning guests. Jessica Duce of JDuce Design says “you can research themes trending in the pop culture scene that seems to be popular among your target audience.” Imagine walking into a bedroom with a vibrant lamp casting shadows over a quirky pop culture art piece versus a bare, neutral bedroom — it’s the spaces that tell a story that get remembered.

By coupling practical items with unique, personal touches—like statement lighting in the reading nook or a handmade mirror on the wall—your rental will not just be a place to stay, but a part of your guest’s travel experience.

Budgeting and Planning

When you’re setting up your short-term rental, thinking ahead about your budget and how you’ll manage expenses is crucial. How much will a comfortable mattress set you back? Can you balance initial costs and long-term value? Let’s crunch some numbers and find smart financing solutions.

Calculating Furnishing Costs

Begin by breaking down the exact costs you’ll encounter when furnishing your investment property. Creating a detailed budget is essential. Let’s look at the basics of new furnishings:

  • Living room set (sofa, coffee table): $1,200 – $2,500
  • Bedroom essentials (bed frame, mattress, linens): $800 – $1,500
  • Dining and kitchenware (table, chairs, utensils): $500 – $1,000

These are ballpark figures, but they give you an idea of what to expect. Don’t forget to factor in sales and discounts (or buying secondhand) that can significantly lower these costs. Remember, a well-furnished property could boost your return on investment, so investing carefully here is key.

Investing in Quality Vs. Saving on Costs

Consider if higher-priced quality furniture will endure the constant turnover of guests, which means less frequent replacements. However, avoid luxury items where cost exceeds functional value — investment property furnishing is about smart shopping.

Here’s a simplified way to decide:

  • Durability: Invest in high-traffic items like sofas and beds.
  • Aesthetics: Save on decor elements that don’t suffer wear and tear.

Financing and Managing Expenses

Finding the optimal way to finance your furnishing endeavor is the next step. Options include:

  • Personal savings: No interest, total control.
  • Business loans: For substantial upfront investment, consider a loan, but be mindful of the expense of interest rates.

Keep track of all expenses in a spreadsheet and stay on top of cash flow. It’s also wise to set aside a buffer for unexpected costs. “The money coming in each month needs to cover expenses, including mortgage payments, insurance, and unexpected costs, so “do the math,” says Brian Walsh, senior manager of financial planning at SoFi.

Remember, how you budget and plan today will shape the success of your short-term rental tomorrow. Smart budgeting equals happy guests, and happy guests mean glowing reviews—and isn’t that what every host dreams of?

Creating an Exceptional Guest Experience

When it comes to earning great reviews and encouraging return guests, nailing the guest experience is key. From the moment they book to the time they check out, every detail counts. Here’s how to ensure your short-term rental stands out.

Developing a Seamless Check-In Process

First impressions matter, so create a check-in process that’s as smooth as possible. Your guests are buzzing with anticipation. Prevent deflating their excitement with clear, simple, and intuitive check-in processes. A digital checklist can help:

  • Pre-Arrival Email: Send a message with all necessary information, including entry instructions, at least 48 hours before arrival.
  • Keyless Entry: Invest in smart locks or key safes to enable self-check-in, fostering a sense of autonomy and convenience.

Ensuring a Comfortable and Memorable Stay

Your guests won’t forget the comfy bed where they had their best sleep in months or the local coffee sample basket on the kitchen counter. To ensure a comfortable stay, stock your rental with:

  • Quality Essentials: Plush towels, premium bedding, and a well-equipped kitchen.
  • Personal Touches: Customize the experience with a welcome note or a guidebook with your favorite local spots.

Gathering Feedback for Continuous Improvement

Every host’s dream? Guests booking another stay before they’ve even left! Capture that success by seeking feedback:

  • Post-Stay Survey: Use a simple application to collect thoughts on what they loved and where you could improve.
  • Responsive Communication: Show guests you value their input by acting on suggestions and maintaining open lines of dialogue.

Continuous improvement is essential. Make guests feel heard, and they’re more likely to reward you with loyalty. By focusing on these aspects, you can create an outstanding guest experience that transforms first-timers into loyalists, one stay at a time.

Operational Considerations and Tools

When managing short-term rentals, efficient operations and tools ensure your guests always step into a well-maintained and welcoming space. Here’s how technology, upkeep strategies, and understanding of leases and regulations can streamline your processes.

Utilizing Technology for Management

Have you ever wished you could simplify the complexities of managing your rental? Good news: there are software solutions designed to make the management of vacation homes and condos a breeze. From centralized booking systems to automated communication platforms, these applications handle the nitty-gritty, giving you more time to focus on the guest experience.

  • Key software features might include:
    • Reservation Management: Keeping track of bookings and availability
    • Financial Tracking: Monitoring income and expenses
    • Guest Communication: Automated messaging for check-ins and check-outs

Leveraging technological advancements can significantly impact the profitability and ease of maintaining your properties.

Maintaining Your Furnished Property

Maintaining the appeal of your living area is crucial. Are the couch cushions looking saggy? Stay proactive with maintenance to keep your property in top form. Here’s what regular upkeep might look like:

  • Bi-weekly:
    • Check and restock essential supplies
    • Inspect furniture for wear and tear
  • Monthly:
    • Deep clean all areas
    • Update any decor that’s not seasonally appropriate

Remember, a little dust can leave a lot of impressions, and an immaculate interior guarantees glowing reviews.

Navigating Long-Term Leases and Regulations

Understanding the legal landscape of your short-term rental is not just smart—it’s essential. Are you aware that some areas have a 28-day cap on consecutive stays? Or that certain condos might be governed by HOA restrictions? Keeping abreast of long-term leases and regulations can prevent surprises and costly missteps. To navigate these waters, you might:

  • Research and adhere to local zoning laws
  • Update your rental agreement in accordance with current regulations

Regular check-ins with local guidelines will keep your rental business on the right side of the law.

Optimizing Listings for Greater Visibility

When you’re ready to get your short-term rental noticed, the power of a well-optimized listing can’t be ignored. Let’s dive into how you can catch a potential guest’s eye and keep your booking calendar full!

Crafting Descriptive and Appealing Advertisements

Creating an advertisement that stands out is an absolute must in the competitive short-term rental market. A few tips to captivate your audience include:

  1. Use compelling language: Just like a headline in a news article, the title of your listing should be punchy and attention-grabbing. “Charming seaside cottage with panoramic views” immediately paints a picture and sets the expectations high.
  2. Incorporate SEO practices: Understand your target audience and what keywords they might use to search for a rental like yours. Craft your descriptions with these keywords, while adhering to marketing principles to improve your listing’s search ranking on rental websites.

It’s not just about being flashy; relevance is key. Are you close to a famous landmark or do you offer unique amenities? Mention that!

High-Quality Photography and Virtual Tours

Interior living room of a lake front rental home with an eclectic but spacious style.

Photos are everything. Studies suggest that high-quality photography showcasing your rental’s beauty and utility can make or break a potential booking. Consider hiring a professional photographer to capture your home’s best features. If you plan to DIY your images keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stage each room: Clean, decluttered spaces enable visitors to imagine themselves in your rental.
  • Use landscape orientation for online images.
  • Pay attention to symmetry and the rule of thirds in photo composition.
  • Use natural lighting on a bright sunny day.
  • Highlight unique property features.
  • Include images of nearby attractions in the portfolio.
  • Include an image of the entrance including any signage or unusual aspects.
  • Photograph room images from the corner or straight on for a visually spacious perception.
  • Offer a 360-degree view: This allows guests to walk through your property virtually, giving them a sense of space and layout that photos can’t match.

Using high-quality images not only boosts your chances of securing more bookings, it can also enhance your visibility on the website. With these strategies in your toolbox, your short-term rental won’t just be another listing—it’ll stand out in a sea of options, ready to welcome guests from around the world.

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