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A Warm Welcome and Comfortable Stay

Setting up your short-term rental

By Nikki Luttmann, Interior Designer

So many people are falling in love with our area and purchasing a second home here. If that is you, congratulations! If, instead, you are from here and decided to take advantage of this boom we are experiencing and rent out your home for short-term rentals (STRs), congratulations! Ifyou just live here and don’t have a second home, still—congratulations! We live in a beautiful area that people love to visit.

Setting up your property to rent, however, can be intimidating. I’ve worked on many rental properties, and the competition is fierce for the high-dollar rentals. Part of the issue is the pressure from social media. Rental companies and, indeed, renters, would like their vacation homes to be Instagram and Facebook worthy. They want a vacation home that comes with bragging rights. But how does one accomplish this and still account for the fact that items may be stolen, damaged, broken, misplaced or misused?

When outfitting a short-term rental, the first thing I do is assess the surfaces. Anything worn, damaged or unsightly needs to be repaired or replaced ASAP. This goes for flooring, cabinetry, carpeting, countertops and all bathrooms and plumbing fixtures. I also look at heat sources and ventilation. It might be summertime swelter to us locals, but someone visiting from Arizona or Georgia might find our chilly summer nights a bit on the frigid side. Comfort is key. Ceiling fans and air conditioning must also be in good working order. If none exist, a good-quality floor or table fan is definitely a must—especially in bedrooms. All doors and windows must also be in good working order, with locks on bathroom doors, if possible. A fresh coat of paint is always appreciated, as are clean carpets, maintained fireplaces and appliances, a full kitchen—including cookware and basic spices. Towels and linens are a must, as are clean sheets and ultra-clean bedding. It should look and feel like a hotel but with a “homey” twist.

Curb appeal is important as well. That first glimpse of the home when people pull up really begins their experience. If you do not live here full time, make sure that you have a landscaper or someone maintaining the lawn and front garden beds. Hot tubs are a plus, but of course, not necessary, as are fire pits. However, it is a good idea to leave your renters with instructions for both! Instructions for any unusual or high-end appliances are also a good idea and may prevent unwanted mishaps.

For furnishings, the focus is usually on beds. “How many does it sleep?” is a common question in the world of STRs. However, this question should be addressed within reason.

Bunk beds are a plus, but not always necessary. Sometimes queen-sized beds in each bedroom work just as well, as family members can double up if needed, including kids. Pull-out sofas are also recommended, but again, not always necessary. If you’d like to focus on quality instead of quantity, that is certainly acceptable. As well, I’ve worked on STRs where instead of a huge room of beds we’ve placed good-quality sleeping bags on the floor of a bonus room, and the kids have had a great time, treating it like a campout!

Interior decor should be simple, tasteful and area specific. Signs reading “Welcome to the Beach” or “Relax, You’re at the Cabin” are welcome. Family photos and other personal memorabilia are not. People love their vacations to be beautiful and fun, but not stressful. Your STR is not the place for your grandmother’s china or pristine antique dining table. Items need to be somewhat affordable and replaceable, just in case an accident occurs.

A short-term vacation home is a place where your guests don’t want to have to worry about their surroundings. The best gift you can give them is a comfortable bed, a simple but cohesive interior and a warm 253 welcome!

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