How to Turn Your Space into a Vacation Rental on a Dime

Real estate owners are benefitting from renting out their primary or secondary homes as vacation rentals. Once you have decided to commit to this opportunity, it is time to decide on strategies for transforming your home into an attractive vacation rental property without spending a lot of your hard-earned money.

Below are some tried and true hacks for transforming any home into rental income gold.


vacation-rental-tipsRepair and Repurpose Worn Furniture

Over time, furniture becomes worn, faded and cracked. While one obvious solution is to run out and buy brand new replacements, it will most certainly cost you a good chunk of change. That would defeat the purpose of using your property for extra income. Refurnishing a home can easily cost thousands of dollars, which means it would take a lot longer to break even on your investment.

The most practical solution is to repair or clean the furniture you have, while adding interesting and colorful accessories to help your rooms pop. If you have leather furniture that is starting to crack or show signs of wear, consider buying a leather repair kit. This method will help you to quickly revitalize old chairs and sofas for a fresher look.

Wooden furniture that is scuffed or nicked can be sanded and refinished. Depending on the finish, many people opt to paint old, inexpensive furniture for a vibrant new look that is sure to make any room appear brighter. Remember to consider the locale when making design choices. Beach area design choices are often quite different from mountain property decor, with an emphasis on lighter woods in seaside areas and heavier, darker wood selections in rural, mountain getaway rentals.

Shop at Thrift Stores and Garage Sales to Update Decor

Anyone who loves to search for treasures can verify that garage sales and thrift stores offer excellent bargains when it is time to redecorate. Adding a bit of kitsch into the equation can be fun for a lake house, beach house, or mountaintop getaway. If you go to garage sales or thrift stores in the area where your home is located, then it is likely you will find some treasures that reflect the charms of that locale.

For example, antique fishing poles displayed in a lake house property provides some inexpensive ambiance, perfect for a vacation rental near a lake. It is no secret for anyone who frequents mountain towns, that bear and duck accessories are popular choices for rural homes.

While garage sales usually offer the best prices, thrift stores are often better for buying items that are less worn. Also, many thrift stores have sales on certain days, so you’re likely to catch a deal if you schedule your shopping days accordingly.

Barter for Labor and Expensive Repairs

If there happen to be some repairs that you can’t do yourself, consider bartering a free week or two at your vacation home in exchange for the upgrades you need. Expensive plumbing or electrical upgrades may be necessary to transform your home into a vacation home. If your property is attractive and in a desirable location, this is a great option for you!

It’s best to contact skilled tradespeople who live outside of the area. If the plumber or electrician you need lives only two miles from your property, the idea of bartering might not have the same appeal for them. Exceptions to this concern might be in cases where your property is right on the water or has a breathtaking view.

Practical Tips to Remember When Decorating a Vacation Home

1. Safety is key.

If you allow children at your rental, be mindful of hazards that may affect them. Also consider elderly people and others who may be in a wheelchair. Sharp edges on furniture should be arranged to minimize the possibility of injury. Dangerous chemicals and other potentially hazardous items should be locked away out of reach of your guests. It is also a good idea to avoid decorating with small knickknacks that could be a choking hazard for a baby or toddler.

2. Plan for breakage, theft and damage.

Not everyone will be as careful with your property as you would be. Some of your possessions may be broken, damaged or stolen. Fortunately, this fact is something you can manage. Always hide sentimental or expensive keepsakes away out of the reach of your guests and make sure you purchase the proper insurance to cover personal property.

3. Put plastic bed protectors on all beds.

Avoid having to replace or clean mattresses. They can be expensive and accidents do happen. Plan on it.


There is money to be made in the vacation rental market. With a little planning and some creativity, you can tap into this exciting business opportunity without breaking the bank.

Erin Emanuel