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Tips for Decorating Resort Rental Property

Beachfront income properties have their own particular set of concerns when it comes to interior design.  Condo packages may meet budget goals, but often contain inferior quality pieces that don’t last.   Vacation renters inflict heavy use; they track in sand, walk on carpets dripping wet, sit on furniture in wet bathing suits, and set drinks everywhere. Sofa cushions fade quickly from pool chlorine and dining chairs are spotted and stained; and it seems like the kids use the curtain rods for monkey bars! The sensible owner will make planned purchases annually to ensure the unit’s interior will continue to be fresh and properly functioning.  The following Resort Rental Design ideas can help ensure that your beach house or condo investment will remain desirable and profitable.


Be sure to have enough seats to accommodate the number of people sleeping in the beds. A sleeper sofa may not be used often, but it adds to the bed count, and thus to the rental price. Some of the better manufacturers offer upgraded sleeper units that are quite comfortable, perfect if you have a small condo.

A larger living room may even have room for two sofas, instead of a sofa and loveseat.  The cost is nearly the same.  If the room is small, ask about townhouse sofas, which are about 6” shorter than a normal sofa and can be used as a pair for more seating.

A good fabric for a poolside rental is outdoor acrylic, such as Sunbrella or Outdura brand.  If you purchase your furniture from a shop that specializes in resort rental interiors, outdoor fabrics should be part of the selection.  They are resistant to chlorine, repel stains, and come in bright, vacation-friendly colors.  These fabrics cost a bit more, but continue to look good for years longer than a cotton fabric.  In more upscale rentals such as private homes, washable heavy cotton slipcovers are often used, combining an elegant look with ease of care.  While slipcovered sofas are more expensive in the initially, a replacement slipcover is half the price of a new sofa, so they are much more cost effective over time.

Plan on recovering or replacing sofas and chairs every 5-7 years.

End tables and coffee tables need to be able to take a beating; painted surfaces may chip, so be prepared to touch up.  Tabletops in antique pine that is already distressed or glass tops that can be washed work very well.


Again, match the number of seats to the number of beds.  If the dining area is small, barstools along the counter offer more dining space; just pay attention to the traffic paths, because crowding makes it hard to get in and out from the table.  You need at least two feet to push out your chair and get up.  Ordering an extra-narrow dining table can be a space saver;  a 32” wide table is perfect for dining, but eliminates food being served in the center.

Choose sturdy chairs – with minimal ornamentation. Carved details or grooved designs will catch food and dirt, and the chairs will end up sticky and dirty.  If you have an older unit and the dining set is looking tired, try painting the chairs a coastal cottage color like sky blue, yellow or light green.   Outdoor acrylic fabrics are excellent for chair seats, as they stand up to chlorine and can be easily cleaned.


Resort rental bedrooms are best when sparsely furnished – nowadays guests like to live out of their luggage. Each room needs one chest, preferably tall and narrow to save floor space.  We recommend a bench also, for laying out an open suitcase, and a peg rack on the wall near the door for hanging beach gear and extra towels.  Benches designed for an entry, with cubbies below, are perfect for luggage, personal gear and shoes in a resort bedroom.

Make sure bedside tables are sturdy and have a pair of good, tall lamps with heavy bases, so vacationers can read in bed.  Lamps designed for hospitality use can be bolted down if breakage has been a problem.

Bedding needs can vary according to the type of property. Some management companies require bedspreads for ease of housekeeping. Custom bedspreads can be expensive, but they are significantly more sturdy than store-bought.  Inexpensive “bed-in-a-bag” ensembles are often flimsy fabrics, and ill-fitting as well.  Make a good impression with a custom bedskirt that matches the curtains, combined with a store-bought quilt or mattelasse’ coverlet.

Be sure to provide flexibility with bed sizes; a pair of twin beds can become a king bed with a “swing king” mechanism.  Provide a second set of sheets and coverlet so the bed can be made up either way – this is excellent for golfers, as two friends can share a room with twin beds, and it can be made up as a king for a couple.


Quality window coverings are a must in a resort rental.  Guests are on vacation, and will expect at least the comfort level of a hotel suite.  This means room-darkening coverings, in all bedrooms, especially on the ocean.  Custom curtains with blackout lining and a commercial grade rod are the best choice.  Commercial grade curtain rods can’t be purchased at a hardware store – they should be ordered from a specialist, but they needn’t be very expensive.

For curtains, we recommend a simple fabric with one or two colors, such as a stripe or small repetitive design.  A new sofa or bedspread can be added more easily if the curtain pattern is easy to coordinate.  If properly made and lined, curtains can last fifteen years or more, so it is best to plan for other things in the room to be replaced during the life of the curtains and keep the fabric simple.

Living areas can have wide-slat blinds with a valance for color.  Keep in mind privacy if there is a sleeper sofa in the room. The wide-slat style allows for a good view out, so they are never raised up and down and hence rarely are broken. Vertical blinds, which are popular because they are so inexpensive, can be a big mistake – they quickly jam and break, costing much more to repair than their initial price.


Area rugs are now available in outdoor fibers that are washable and long-lasting for use indoors.  Natural fibers can perform beautifully if the right ones are chosen and they are properly sealed.  We usually recommend seagrass, which is elegant and affordable.  Ordering carpet that can be bound into a custom sized area rug is great for adding color and fun textures or patterns.  It’s soft under foot and another affordable option.  The carpet should be low pile and preferably a nylon fiber for cleanability.   Carpet designed for heavy-traffic or family rooms in a low sisal weave is an excellent option.

Copyright 2011 Posh Living, LLC.  May not be reproduced without permission.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra McCarthy September 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

I’m looking for window ideas for my home in Myrtile Beach. We jsut moved in and I have no idea what I want to do in the bedroom which has a bay window and the living room which has two windows. I will be there from te 30th of September thru the 9th of October and wondered if I brought in the pillow from the couch that maybe we could match something up for the living room windows. Please let me know what information you may need. Thank you

Sandra McCarthy

webmaster September 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

Thanks for your inquiry. We can certainly help with the color selection and style. We always like to discuss your needs as far as privacy and light control, as well as the budget. If you want to measure your windows (from top to floor and the width) and bring the measurements with you it is helpful, but we always measure in person too. You can also email photos of the windows so we can see the style.

Kerry Ann

Christian March 8, 2012 at 1:33 am

I would like to use your writing in my thesis. Thank you.

carolynn March 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm

We just recently built and moved into our coastal home in Texas. A wonder gal at Comfort of Home suggested a great idea using tablecloths. I purchased three very bold multi-colored tablecloths. Using curtain ring clips I have a beautiful window treatment in my great room that looks fabulous. My accent pillows are colors pulled from the window treatments.

chris leonetti October 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm

We are remodeling a home (not living in it) for an upscale vacation rental in a golf resort community. My husband said all of the realtors who rent insist that all of the bedding be white and all of the towels be white. No colors are to be used. I have checked my area of rentals in this community and other high end rental communities and I see no bedrooms done in all white. It does not make sense to me due to dirt, spills, suitcases, etc. My husband says people want this.. and if that is the case, why can t I find anyone with all white comforters and bedding in some of these exclusive properties. Thanks can anyone point me in the right direction when renting out a very nice home?

webmaster October 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Chris,
We’re finding that using all white bedding in upscale rentals is the new requirement, but it can take years to change out all of the existing properties. The all-white look comes from high end resorts and nicer hotels, who go with white for a clean look. When a guest arrives and sees the white they know the bedding is clean, and not hiding stains or dirt in a busy print. One way to keep the bedding clean is to use a bed runner in a colorful fabric at the foot of the bed, or fold a quilt at the foot. This will keep the bedding clean if people sit there dirty feet or put a bag down.
We use white mattelasse coverlets with a tailored bedskirt. A platform bed with no skirt is nice. We’ll be adding hotel-grade mattelasse’ to our website soon to meet the demand – they are heavier cotton designed to stand up to repeated washing. If you want a comforter, use a white duvet cover that can be washed.
I hope this helps! Please give us a call or email if you’d like more information on our mattelasse’s.
Kerry Ann

Joanie Keating January 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

I just recently purchased a 42 ft yacht .I love marine colors and beige colors.I don’t know how to blend all my colors with the colors outside,like bottom paint canvases etc. Can you help I love some of these ideas on rental properties

Caryl Anne June 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

The advice you provided is helpful, insightful, and should help to add value and appeal to any rental. It’s so important to make sure these types of rentals are desirable and appealing to renters in order to remain profitable. Thanks for sharing!

bea Mogavero October 17, 2014 at 3:19 am

I do like black sofa queen sleepers – should we get leather or fabric

webmaster November 16, 2014 at 1:07 am

I think fabric is better, but if you choose leather, make sure it has a protective coating.

linda kryst February 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm

What are some decoratingideas for windows? I am decorating the villa in a “British West Indies style ” and am stuck with treatments for the windows. Since the furniture is mostly rattan/a nd woven rush,etc. and is dark mahogany, I do not want to put more wood on the windows.
I now have white venitian blinds on the windows and am thinking of a cornice above.

kathy February 17, 2015 at 11:12 pm

We just purchased a property in a dry desert climate, but I hate southwestern decor. Is it safe to decorate in more of a beach motif? It is located in a nice area with several pools, decks, playgrounds and grass.

webmaster February 27, 2015 at 2:04 am

Hi Kathy,
I think it would be attractive to have lighter, pale colors and soft neutrals one finds in a coastal look. Natural elements like twigs, fossils, wicker and rattan refer to nature without being too beachy. Definitely try a seagrass rug, maybe some woven grass or bamboo blinds, soft linen window panels and light colored bedding. The desert has so many colors if you really look, soft faded coral-pinks, purples and sky blue. For art, try photography – maybe some local scenery in black and white, or bluffs in color at sunset. If you love the beach, include a few natural accessories like large shells, maybe a beach landscape. It’ll be a reflection of your interests and travels, as a home should be. If you want to give a nod to the location, keep it simple and chic – maybe a tribal patterned pillow or two, and some ranch style classics like ticking stripes and burlap for accents. I’d even throw in a shabby chic faded floral print to soften things up – then you won’t feel like you’re stuck in an old Western 🙂
Kerry Ann

webmaster February 27, 2015 at 2:12 am

Hi Lynda,
How about some breezy, unlined linen drapery panels? They’re inexpensive and very British Colonial. You can hang them right over your blinds, and use a dark wood rod to match the furnishings. Since you have the blinds, you’ll just need a panel on each side of the window. It’s a classic look – sheers were used to let in light, keep the hot sun out, and reduce the amount of dust coming in. They were most used in summer or hot climates where windows would be left open. If you just want something on top, try a traditional printed fabric with large palm or banana leaves, or a Tree of Life design, and make a soft casual swagged valance. Since the British Colonies were far from home and resources were fewer, interiors were more simple. Some things were brought from home, though – so I love to throw in a classic English floral fabric somewhere if I can!
I hope this helps!
Kerry Ann

Jennie July 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

We are trying to furnishing a 3 bedroom condo in FL. We already have 1 guest room with 2 twin XL beds a night stand that has drawers but no room for a dresser. Guest room #2 has a queen bed with dresser. Master….what would be best a queen or a king? Would I have to have a dresser? There is a huge walk in closet with organizers in it. Thanks for your help.

Kerry Ann July 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Hi Jennie,
That’s a great question – if most of your renters are short-term vacationers, drawers aren’t really crucial. I like to use a long bench so guests can just lay open their suitcases. I usually will put a King bed in the master bedroom, unless the room is just too tiny. A Queen bed will feel cramped if your guests have a King at home. In golf communities, we’ll often use a King made of two XL Twins, so the room can be made up as a pair of Twins (to suit two unrelated adults, such as golfing friends).
If you have off-season renters that stay for a few weeks or more, you definitely want drawers so they can unpack and settle in. Bedside chests are a great solution. If you can find a pair of small chests with drawers that fit the space, you can eliminate a big dresser. If there’s an empty wall in the walk-in closet, a simple tall dresser in there can be a place for some drawers. Or, if the closet organizers have drawer attachments you could add 4-6 of them so each person has a few drawers for small things. That leaves more space in the Master Bedroom, where you can have a long bench against a wall, or even a chair and ottoman for a quiet reading spot if space permits.

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