How the Pros Get a Home Ready for a Vacation Rental

July 26, 2017

Does anyone tire of browsing through house listings? Whether you’re a home dweller looking for design inspiration or a would-be traveler, scrolling through picture-perfect (as well as perfectly undone) interiors can be great motivation to kick-start that renovation project that’s been on your agenda for ages, or finally book those tickets to Berlin (or Cartagena. Or Reykjavík. Or Ho Chí Minh City).

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making those lust-worthy sites so irresistible, we’ve found some answers. Here’s how the pros over at onefinestay, a luxury short-term rental company whose listings in New York, London, Rome, and beyond, inspire serious wanderlust, get their homes ready before letting guests pass the threshold. Be as rigorous as Angie MacArthur, onefinestay's head of housekeeping operations, is in her exacting standards, or relax them to suit your needs.

Photo by onefinestay

Don’t take it personally

Start by clearing the space of personal items—personal photos, countertop clutter in the kitchen and bathrooms, personal mail or desktop documents, etc.—so that guests can feel like the home is their own special space in the city, and settle in accordingly.

Secure these personal items, along with personal clothing and linens, in storage spaces (in or out of the home), so that guests can unpack and use the closet spaces.

Clean and prep

When emptying the wardrobe of clothes, supply hangers for guests to use during their stay. This allows the guest to unpack and not feel like they are intruding in someone else’s house.

Get a professional cleaning done so that guests arrive to a fresh, immaculate home for their stay. Onefinestay’s team makes up the beds, putting the top sheets soft-side down, and using “hospital corners” to make sure the sheets have a smooth, crisp feel when guests climb into the bed. They ensure that each bed has a nightstand and lamp next to it. In the bathrooms, there’s a supply of travel-size toiletries, fluffy towels, and a blowdryer on hand.

Photo by onefinestay

Be bold (carefully)

MacArthur shares that most popular homes feature striking color palettes, brilliant and bold walls and furniture, incredible art, and eye-catching light fixtures. It’s part of what makes the stay very special for guests, and homeowners should not shy away from letting their home be an expression of their style. Some of their most-booked homes feature rooms with lively wallpaper in bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.

That said, it’s hard to get exactly right, and a great deal more homes tend to lean toward a more classic and neutral palette with pops of color, as some guests prefer something that feels familiar, and less distracting.

Photo by onefinestay

Show off your strengths

For many successful homes, the traits most important to guests tend to be those that make a home distinctive to the city―that means rooftop decks in New York; pools and views in Los Angeles; and garret windows and gilded molding in Paris.

Photo by onefinestay

And it seems marble is a universally loved finish. Be it a kitchen counter or a bathroom shower, marble continues to become synonymous with high style.

Know regional preferences

According to MacArthur, American guests are very keen for the children’s bedrooms to be close to the parents'; for Europeans and global guests, they want the children’s bedrooms on another floor or end of the home. Interesting!

Photo by onefinestay

Added touches

Bring the city into the homes with local snacks (like Brooklyn-made granola in New York or traditional English breakfast tea and biscuits in London) available for guests upon arrival, and coffee, tea, and milk for them to have on-hand while during their stay. This extra touch helps guests to settle more deeply into the home, and into their stay.

What qualities do you admire in a vacation home? How would you present your own home if it were up for a short-term rental? Let us know in the comments.

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.