Maybe the luxury vacation property you purchased a few years ago, envisioning as a “family compound,” has become a drain on your energy and your finances, but you’re not yet willing to sell it. Or, you just found a deal on a condo that was too good to pass up, but you know you won’t be able to use it regularly for a couple of years. What can you do?
Owning a second home can be a great investment if you have a way to take care of the costs of upkeep and property taxes. Renting to visitors or short-term residents can be a lucrative way to keep you home as an asset. Your second home might not be a cash cow, but it doesn’t have to be an albatross either.
How to Prepare for Renters
Decorating for strangers is not at all like decorating for yourself or for family and friends. You must remove all personal items such as family pictures, valuable accessories, clothing and even furniture that have special meaning or are valuable.
Other than that, you should have fun. If you are in a vacation area, think like a tourist. Let your decor reflect the reason visitors would come to your location, remember the reasons you bought the place, and think about what attracted you to the area. Browse sites such as Houzz.com for design inspiration.
Furniture should be sturdy, serviceable and comfortable. It does not have to be particularly stylish, so if you need to add some pieces, consider second-hand or garage sale purchases, particularly for outdoor use. To spruce up the decor, shop online at sites such as Wayfair.com for key pieces such as a new duvet cover, towels, lamps and dishes. Think about lasting value and serviceable items, not trendy.
Install Personality Pieces
Families on vacation like whimsical, quirky accessories. Nothing has to match, and if you find great large accessories and art at local bazaars and gift shops, they will add character and appeal to the property. A mountain cabin should have some hand-hewn peeled log tables and chairs, or a pottery bear lamp. Patchwork quilts on the beds would be perfect. Colors in nature’s tones would be appealing.
A lakeside home, or beach cottage, on the other hand, could have lighter colors, softer fabrics, sea animals and fish-themed accents, and shells. Blue hues of sky and water, with pale tones of sand and some sun yellow would be a great color scheme.
Paint manufacturers have “pre-chosen” decor palettes, with coordinating colors: Some, notably the design experts at Sherwin Williams, offer yearly color choices with design ideas that you can browse to perfect your choices. If you’re decorating from afar, you can order swatches and samples delivered to your home in order to complete your decor scheme. Fabric swatches and personalized design services are also available through such firms as Calico Corners.
If you deal with a property manager, check policies for utilizing a closet or locked room as an “owner’s vault.” Then, when you decide to bring family and friends to vacation, you will have some familiar things to make it feel like home.