Design Recipes: 10 tips for short-term rentals

By Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service


Short-term rentals are more popular than ever. From vacation locales to suburban environments that appeal to those seeking a location outside of an urban center, short-term rentals are an attractive alternative to traditional hotels, especially for families. While renting your home as-is may be a cost-saving measure, you may want to ask yourself how much it will really save you in the long run. Having a property that shows at its very best will lead to better photos, and ultimately more bookings.

This master bedroom was refreshed to appeal to short-term renters.

Here are some top tips to spruce up your short-term rental without breaking the bank.

1. Keep personal belongings at a minimum. While a home that feels warm and cozy is appealing, the short-term rental should feel fresh and welcoming.

2. Consider hiring a professional staging company. Staging companies specialize in furniture rental and setting a space. Professionally setting up your space for wide appeal will go a long way with bookings.

3. Have a welcome book with a personal note. Not only is it a nice touch, but it helps reinforce the personal aspect and will help serve as a reminder to people to respect your personal home.

4. Think about presentation. From furniture to artwork and overall decor, these details matter to many potential renters. Often people make an instant impression about a property based on decor alone.

The bedroom of a short-term rental prior to staging.

5. Don’t deceive or conceal. There will be no greater hit to your reviews than false advertising. Renters will expect the property they viewed in your photographs.

6. Consider hiring a property manager. While being your own manager may save money in your wallet, you need to ask yourself if it will be worth your time. Many who choose to self-manage their properties complain about the mountain of emails and need to constantly be on call for inquiries.

7. Infuse details and special touches. The short-term rental market is more competitive than ever. To help make your property stand out, consider special touches such as welcome baskets, fresh flowers or local market items such as cheese, jam and wine.

8. Make sure your property is spic and span. Many renters will request that the property be cleaned with no one present a minimum of 48 hours prior to their stay.

9. Ensure your short-term rental is well-stocked. From appliances such as coffee makers to can and bottle openers, pots/pans and dishes, to towels/linens and a closet full of games, the expectation for renters is a property that is fully and adequately stocked.

10. Ask for and always respond to reviews. While a bad review can hurt for months and even years to come, great reviews can help put your short-term rental near the top of the list.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at