How to Design the Perfect Vacation Rental, According to an Airbnb Stylist

These five expert tips will help your Airbnb stand out from the rest.

Living room in boho style

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With Airbnb's active listings climbing to 6 million worldwide in 2022, becoming a successful Airbnb host has never been more dependent on having a soulful and memorable aesthetic. Guests who choose to rent a home for their vacation are not just looking for a well-appointed hotel room; they want to feel inspired and have their imagination engaged. Your property has to be a destination in itself.

A listed property has only a few seconds to grab a viewer's attention. As an avid boutique traveler and self-taught interior stylist, I understand what it takes to stand out online. I’ve narrowed down some of these key design elements based on my work helping boutique properties around the world elevate their aesthetic, generate more bookings, and increase their revenue.

Related: The Best New Airbnb Hosts in Every State — and Their Must-rent Listings

Here are my top five tips on how to turn a blank canvas of a home into a sold-out slice of holiday heaven when designing your Airbnb.

1. Mix and Match Decor

To create a unique aesthetic, start with mixing and matching furniture and accessories. Take items you've bought while traveling or scouring antique markets and thrift shops, or even family heirlooms, and combine them with more sleek, high-end pieces. A vintage piece of furniture provides a focal point, and for additional flair, add opulent fabrics such as velvety accent cushions, thick woolen throws, or plush carpets.

2. Use Accent Colors

Whether your interior uses neutral or vibrant hues, an accent color is very important because it creates contrast and allows you to personalize your interior. There are various ways to add accent colors: painting a single wall, highlighting the structural elements of a room such as the ceiling beams, adding accent furniture, or even opting for a colored floor. The key is to pick a color that will complement the entirety of your interior. For example, if your overall color palette is more earthy, natural, and modernist, an olive-green accent wall in your bedroom could look amazing.

luxurious and stylish home interior (living room) with high-quality furniture

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3. Bring (More) Light

Lighting is an essential element of a well-designed interior, if not the most important one. Bad lighting can strongly depreciate the look and feel of a property. Integrating light fixtures into key areas will immediately change the vibe, adding either warmth and coziness or sophistication and flamboyance. To ensure you place those fixtures in the ideal spots, look at where natural light comes from and pinpoint which areas would benefit from an extra source of light. From candleholders and freestanding fixtures to wall-mounted and hanging options, the idea is to bring in as much light as possible for poorly exposed rooms and to tastefully dim rooms that are over-exposed.

4. Stage Artwork

Adding artwork to your interior is essential for two main reasons: Art pieces such as paintings, prints, and sculptures will provide personality to any room. Plus, one of the main reasons guests book an Airbnb is to feel immersed in the area they stay in. Featuring art made by local artists is a great way to add this regional flair.

Be sure to choose pieces that complement your interior’s color palette as well as atmosphere. If your space has a more vintage, eclectic vibe, I recommend picking colorful artwork. On the other hand, for a boho, earthy and organic vibe, black and white modernist pieces are perfect.

Scandinavian concept of living room interior with design sofa, coffee table and plants

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5. Add Greenery and Simple Flower Arrangements

One of the easiest and more budget-friendly ways to add personality to a room is to incorporate greenery. Potted or hanging, tall, medium or small, plants create a welcoming atmosphere. Even adding a simple fresh flower bouquet will do the trick, especially if you do not have a green thumb. You can add greenery in any room, even the bathroom. Never use fake, plastic plants, however — they could cheapen your interior. Avoid overloading your space with too many plants at the risk of transforming it into a garden center.

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