Successful Interior Design for Short Term Rentals

You’ve made an investment into a short term rental property. Congratulations!! It’s time to decorate your property and fill it with all the conveniences your guests need. You might be tempted to cut some corners within your interior design in order to retain a greater profit.


But should interior design for short term rentals be that different from designing your own home? Could cutting corners within your design hurt your ROI in the long run? What should you consider when furnishing your short term rental?


The answers are no, yes, and I’ll tell you!

For purposes here, we’ll break our advice into three parts – hosting, functionality, and return on investment.




Hosting: Creating Interior Design for Short Term Rentals that Welcomes your Guests


When we say hosting, a guest always wants to feel like a welcomed guest. When my family travels, the first parameter is that this home-away-from-home needs to be as “nice” as our home.


When Elan Design is hired to design your home, we tailor the concepts to your taste. However, when creating interior design for short term rentals, our designs are relatively unisex, with furnishing and finishes that appeal to a mass market. Much like a 5-star hotel, yet on a smaller, more intimate scale. We want all guests to feel comfortable and at home so they recommend and return!


How to be the Perfect Host

  • House Rules: depending on the owner, there should be “House Rules" or “House Resources” posted in a central location. We prefer to frame this one-page document and hang it in a visible but not obtrusive place.

  • A Local Guide: Remember - your guests may not be familiar with the area, so this is where you provide them with general information, phone numbers, websites, etc. to make them feel at ease in their new environment.

  • Check-Out Instructions: Also include any instructions you’d like for them to carry out while on your property, like trash night on Tuesday - but especially any instructions pertaining to check out. If you need the dishwasher running or the beds stripped, make sure to let your guest know.

For more tips and tricks on becoming the perfect rental host, check out this article here.


Interior Design for Short Term Rentals that Sells


Let’s break down some elements that will make your short term rental interior design stand out:


In terms of paint, consider the vibe of the environment. Is it in the city or down the shore? Perhaps you’re at the lake house, or in the mountains? Support that energy. Grays and whites are great go-to colors that accommodate many different atmospheres. I suggest brighter shades in the living rooms and deeper shades in the bedrooms.


Insider Tip: Remember you can ask for 15 - 25% lighter or darker shade using the same color throughout each floor.


For a high-end touch, pay attention to your moldings and baseboards. Nice, tall baseboards, at least 5" - 7" is best. If you’re feeling adventurous, try an accent color for your trims, but stay with colors that age well. You’ll thank me when your high-traffic areas still look brand new!


In hallways, it's better to have wallpaper and as we mentioned or molding such as board-and-batten, shiplap, or shadowboxing. Avoid artwork that can be knocked off the wall as guests move in and out. “Light the path” with great lighting to take your guests from one end to the other.


Lighting is always a fundamental element when designing a residence or rental. We take a deep dive into the fundamentals of lighting in this article. So take a look to get all of our lighting suggestions. Some ideas to keep in mind are to incorporate three sources of light in every room and install plenty of outlets! Remember - your guests are in unfamiliar territory. Help them find their way!


Artwork is a specialty of Elan Design - as it is a key element in a space. We talk about this subject in-depth on our website. Treat your investment property like your home and incorporate artwork that elicits feelings of happiness and well-being.


Live plants may not be the best idea for your rental property. Instead, framed botanicals in the bedroom promote a sense of calm.


Interior design for short term rentals should always include furniture that is durable and washable. Performance fabrics are a must, Crypton and Inside-Out fabrics are go-to for me.


In contrast to my other suggestions, I prefer low-end area rugs in rental properties. Rugs made of polypropylene and hides work well - as both can literally be hosed off! Always use a quality rug pad to elevate the look and feel of what's underfoot. Incorporate flooring that can be cleaned easily. I recommend tile, LVT (luxury vinyl tile), wood, or LVP (luxury vinyl plank).


Window treatments are also a great way to elevate the atmosphere, and are one of our specialties at Elan Design. We offer our clients what we call our Fabric Refresh Package where we happily walk you through the process of selecting, fabricating, and installing your window treatments. Window dressings like roman shades and drapery add a feeling of comfort and texture to a space. Dressing your windows adds a layer of coziness for your guests, and black-out liners in the bedrooms are a MUST!


Insider Tip: add trim to your store-bought drapes for a custom look!


Time to add the finishing touches! In terms of accessorizing your spaces, we offer our favorite objects in our online store. A good rule of thumb is clear surfaces promote ease of cleaning but add enough accessories so that rooms don’t feel sparse. I like to use what I call “gifts of the earth” – like marble and wood materials to bring comfort and nature to the space.


Insider Tip: books are both aesthetically pleasing and functional for your guests. Curate a small

collection about your local area or on the topic of travel.


Functionality: How Interior Design for Short Term Rentals Affects Your Guest Experience


At Elan Design, we prioritize ease of function when designing short-term rentals. We set in place visual cues to promote ease in everyday tasks. Durability, cleanliness, and safety are huge considerations in any home, especially one with a high turnover.


How to Create Function that Keeps Guests Coming Back


The entry/foyer sets the stage for your property. It should be welcoming and orderly. Make sure there is an immediate light and surface for a drop – keys, mail, shopping bags from local stores, handbags, and coats. A console with two ottomans put on shoes or leave a coat works nicely.




The kitchen is the hub of the household. Cleanliness is key to all corners of the kitchen. Create a coffee bar and keep the basic tools on hand. Your short-term rental is not for your old inventory, it's the opposite! With all the traffic and turnover, there should be a good set of pots, pans, and kitchen utensils - all neatly organized. Stay tuned for our *soon-to-come* blog post detailing all of your short term rental kitchen needs!



Provide your guests with place settings for 8 - at the very least. We want guests to entertain to broaden the exposure of your property, so their friends are calling you as well!


Insider Tip: A great refrigerator and cooktop will elevate the look and feel of the space. This added investment on the front end translates exponentially on the back end!


The bathrooms should be comfortable and VERY clean! We love to mix high and low-end elements to create an elevated look. Tile as much of the wall as possible - especially within the shower. The smaller grout lines the better! Mirrors and great lighting are key and be sure to have an ample stock of linens, toilet paper, and tissues. You can peruse our shop for luxurious bathroom accessories.


Insider Tip: Use small-scale and textured tile on the floors for safety.


Bedrooms should feel like a sanctuary, and closets should be fully functional with open shelves and matching hangers. There needs to be a place for luggage, so make sure there are at least two luggage racks available in each bedroom.


Have a full set of extra bed linens and blankets in the closet. This next suggestion is up for debate, but we like to have a TV in every bedroom. Also, make sure you have a comfortable chair paired with a small table to read or take a moment.


How Interior Design for Short Term Rentals Creates Great ROI


Hosts with an elevated point of view attract tenants with a similar perspective. So, when designing your rental property, it is important to attract those that will care for the property, keeping things as clean, orderly, and maintained - as you would.


Consider the power of manifesting - if you fill your property with low-end, cheap furnishings, you will ultimately attract low-quality guests. Your prices will decline in order to meet the buying clientele, and before you know it - your short term rental property is not the investment opportunity you thought it would be.


Once you’ve invested in a functional and beautiful space, you guarantee repeat customers. Not only that, but you will attract the clientele that will care for your space as much as you do. Trust me - your guests will be happy to pay higher rents when they know they will enjoy the wellness and luxury your space offers!


Feeling Overwhelmed?


Allow me to put your mind at ease. At Elan Design, we ensure your space performs at its best by creating comfortable, welcoming environments that are durable and functional. We are continuously sought after for our expertise in designing short-term rental properties.


We offer virtual consultations, pinpointing exactly what to do in your space in our Renters & Realtors Package. Or let us handle the whole thing for you with our Full-Service Offering where we provide you with turn-key results.


If you have more questions after reading (or in the future), we’re happy to jump on a call to discuss your project and suggest the best way we can help you.

So, what resonated with you? Let us know your takeaways in the comments. We’d love to hear what inspired you!

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