Furnishing a Vacation Home

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Shop consignment stores! A few vintage pieces can add charm and interest to your decor … but be careful not to go overboard creating a “dated” look to your vacation home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So … you just purchased a vacation rental home.  If the property is unfurnished, you have a blank slate and the perfect opportunity to choose furnishings and amenities that will draw tenants.  If you plan on using the property yourself, of course you will want to furnish the property to meet your needs, but it is also important to consider the needs of prospective tenants.  Through my years in the vacation rental business, I have seen gorgeous properties sit vacant while a lower-end property next door was constantly rented.  There are more factors in making your property desirable then decorator décor.  Location, pricing, bed configuration and amenities, weigh heavily in attracting inquiries.  I have a few suggestions for those new to vacation rental ownership and suggestions for areas that are often overlooked.

First … It is very important that you read through the city’s vacation rental ordinance.  Even if you plan to have a professional management company handle your vacation home, you as the property owner, are fully responsible for any ordinance violations.  Most cities have short term vacation rental regulations that limit the number of occupants based on the number of bedrooms.  It is important that you know what the city considers a bedroom or sleeping area.  There is no use adding sofa-beds in living rooms and dens if the city sets occupancy limits.  For example, here in California, a room without a closet is not considered a bedroom.  So if one of the bedrooms has been converted to a den and the closet has been removed, it is not a bedroom.  If your plans are to use the space as a bedroom or sleeping den, to be on the safe side, you may want to consider adding a closet.  Ordinance violation fines for exceeding occupancy limits can be significant.

Bed Configuration:  You need to do your homework and be fully informed on your particular demographic.  Review area rentals on the internet.  Look at the occupancy calendars of properties your size and in your immediate area.  Note the typical length of stay, bed configuration and amenities offered.  You can also talk to local vacation rental companies.  Even if you plan on handling your own rentals, vacation  management companies are a wealth of information.  Here are a few things to consider when setting up your bedrooms:

  • I would ALWAYS advise a king in the master bedroom! This is a big deal breaker for many people.  Two reasons:  If the tenant has a king bed at their own home, they will want a king bed in their vacation home too.  If the tenant is tall, they will need a king bed to be comfortable. Vacation Rentals of the Desert manages several vacation homes with queen beds in the master … and believe me … this IS a big deal and we see a significant difference in desirability.
  • Did you know that two twins can easily be joined to make a king? When advertising, you should always describe the beds as “two twins that can be converted to a king.”  Twins-to-king conversion kits can be purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond or online at Amazon.  There are increased costs but it will also make your property suitable to a wider audience.  You will need complete bedding for both twin beds and a king bed … mattress pads, sheets, blankets, bedspreads.  You will also need to ask tenants how they would like the beds set up for their stay.  Note:  If you are with a management company or are a long distance owner, you will probably have to pay extra for the beds to be joined or parted and then for the beds to be made up with the correct bedding.  Another note:  I would never cut corners and push two twins together and advertise it as a king bed.  It is likely that the tenant will feel the hump in the middle and you will probably get a complaint call or worse … a review saying that the bed configuration was falsely advertised.   Full disclosure is your best bet.
  • If you have a large guest bedroom you may want to consider two full or queen beds. This is much more appealing to a renter than two twin beds.
  • A single full size bed should only be used if you do not have room for a larger bed. It will not be appealing to a couple.  If at all possible you want each bedroom to have the ability to sleep two people comfortably.
  • I am not a huge fan of bunk beds. Couple of reasons:  First … safety and owner’s liability are big concerns.  Second … it pretty much limits the room to children only.  Adults will shy away from even sleeping in the lower bunk.  However, in some communities bunk beds may be a plus. Before buying I recommend that you check with your insurance company on possible liability issues.
  • Sofa-beds are rarely comfortable but adding a very thick, quality mattress cover will help greatly. Sofa-beds are best used by children or for short stays.  If your demographic caters to adults, beds are preferred.

We have several three bedroom condominiums where one bedroom has been “purposed” as a den/office.  For our demographic, this makes sense.  As I mentioned, most of our tenants consist of one or two couples staying for one month or longer.  They may think that a three bedroom property is unnecessary and will not even consider it … but a two bedroom with an office/den is a space that they will use.  It will also work for families that come out for shorter stays where a sofa-bed can be used for a few days or by a child.  If you know what the typical renter in your area is looking for in a vacation rental, you will be able to better determine how to furnish your vacation home to attract attention.

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A small desk tucked into a corner creates a handy work station for your guests. Look for a desk that compliments your decor and avoid student computer work stations.

Desk or Office Space:  Have you ever stayed in a hotel that does not have a desk?  Now more than ever, a desk is a welcome amenity.   You can bet your tenants are bringing their laptops, iPads and Notebooks.   From correspondence, to bill paying, to keeping up with the stock market and even those who are on a “working vacation,” having space to set up their computer is huge.  Unless your property is advertised as a bare-bone; wilderness experience … you absolutely MUST have Wi-Fi.  Note:  Choose a nice home/office desk that will match your décor, such as the one pictured here.  Avoid the inexpensive student style computer desks that will conflict with the beauty of your home.

Living Room Furniture:  Rule of thumb … at least enough comfortable seating for the maximum amount of tenants who will be staying at the vacation home.  If you have a three bedroom home that sleeps six, then you want seating for six … and that doesn’t mean wedging four people on a sofa.  Imagine three couples watching TV.  They will not be comfortable on top of each other.    Same goes for the dining room and patio furniture.  You should have seating for the maximum number of people your property will accommodate.

Flat Screen TVs:  If you have an old boxy TV … throw it away.  Even if it works … throw it away.  It will lose you rentals … guaranteed.  When a tenant sees an old TV they immediately think that the owner is cheap and does not keep up the property.  We hear this every day!  It may be the farthest thing from the truth, but that is how a prospective tenant will perceive it.  A flat screen TV in the living room, den and all bedrooms should cover all the bases.  You will never lose renters because you have too many TVs … but you will for not enough.  If they have children, bedroom TVs can be a big deal.  With the cost of TVs these days, it is an investment that will pay for itself quickly.  Best Buy typically has adequate 32” TVs for less than $200.

DVD or Blu Ray Player:  I recommend Blu Ray players.  They are now inexpensive ($10 more than DVD), and they will play regular and Blu Ray discs.  This past year I went with two long time girl friends on a three day vacation to the mountains.  We had planned one stay-home evening of wine and chick-flicks.  We were really disappointed that there was no DVD player of any kind at the vacation home.  This isn’t even considered an amenity anymore … it’s a necessity in a vacation home.

Lighting:  I know … I love those little decorator bedside lamps with the dark colored shades that match the bedspread … but can you read a book in bed?  Look for those really great bedside lamps that you CAN ready by … maybe the kind that uses three-way bulbs.  Recessed lights in the ceiling are great for lighting an entire room but not so great for reading.  You should have table lamps in the bedrooms and in the living room.  Furnish your vacation home so that every tenant can read in bed or in living areas and you’ll never get a complaint about lighting.  If you do not have the space for a table to place a lamp, I recommend one of the standing lamps with three directional lights.  It can be stored in a closet, but easily moved by tenants wherever needed.

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Ceiling fans in living areas and bedrooms will help to cut your air conditioning bills and add beauty to your vacation home.

Ceiling Fans:  EVERYWHERE if you can.  It’s not a necessity, but will make a huge difference in your air conditioning bills.

Full Length Mirror:  Somewhere in the property you should have at least one full length mirror.

Door Hooks:  I cannot tell you how many owners do not think to put hooks behind bathroom doors.  Tenants often mention the lack of hooks to hang their robes or sleepwear.  Or worse … owners will return to their properties to find that tenants have taken it upon themselves to put up a stick-on type hook … which the owner may not be unhappy about.  It is always best to put up the hooks that you desire and that will match your décor.

Area, Bath and Kitchen Rugs:  Always purchase non-skid rugs for safety purposes.  If you have tile inside the front door, back door or sliding glass doors, you should have a non-skid rug to prevent slipping accidents when the guests enter when raining or wet outside.  I usually recommend machine washable rugs whenever possible.  This will save you a little money in professional carpet cleaning costs.

Throws:  If you decide to purchase throw blankets … I recommend the kind that can be thrown in the washer.  They will need to be cleaned.  This season we had mishaps at two properties where tenants washed wool throws, not noticing the dry clean only label.  The owners now have very expensive kitchen hot pads!

For more ideas and helpful hints, read through some of my earlier blog posts.  The posts that address furnishings in particular are, “Dress for Success,” posted February 8, 2015, “Make Cents?” posted June 22, 2014, “Furnishing Tips … What You Don’t Know May Cost You,” posted February 23, 2014 and “Kitchen Rehab,” posted February 2, 2014.  A complete copy of Vacation Rentals of the Desert’s Minimum Requirement List, which may be helpful when purchasing your basic needs, can be found in my December 14, 2014 post titled “A Perfectly Appointed Vacation Home.”  Of course you may have additional needs based on your area and demographic, but our list may be a good starting point.  As always, I would be happy to answer any of your questions asked through this blog or at Vickie@vacationrentalsofthedesert.comHappy Sunday!

 

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Photos:   http://www.kitchencabinetssandiego.us & http://www.palmfanstore.com & http://adonishoffman.com

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