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Top 11 Ideas For Decorating and Designing your Outdoor Spaces

Often times when people look to furnish and decorate their space, they forget a crucial area of the property. An outdoor space can not only extend your floor plan, but it can also be the deciding factor of whether the guest chooses your property or not. We regularly like to visualize what this space would encompass if it were our personal property. A peaceful garden with spots to relax and find your zen? A pool party zone with all the floaties one could imagine? Or a space for family gatherings during vacation?

Here's a few tips we’ve found to be the best way to maximize your outdoor area when furnishing your short term rental:

1. The location of your short term rental: If your VRBO or Airbnb is located in a beach town, chances are good that your guests will spend the majority of their time outdoors, so it is vital to the success of your property to spend the time and capital on the outdoor location. However, if you are working on an urban property where people are typically staying for an activity, the outdoor space will be less utilized, and therefore, less important. This helps to guide how much effort you want to put into the outdoor space.

2. The purpose the space serves: To start your design journey, first think of the best use of the space. This question often can have multiple answers; a dining zone for the family, a space to play yard games, or an area to relax and enjoy a pool. The answer to this question will help guide you as to what is the best utilization of the space.

3. Try creating several areas within one outdoor area: In your typical Airbnb, there will be families or large groups of people all commingling in one property. There is a natural tendency during a get-together for smaller groups to form, so you want to be sure to accommodate for this. For instance, in a recent property we furnished, we had a backyard footprint almost double the size of the house. This enabled us to create several distinct areas all within one space; a firepit with several chairs, the outdoor ‘dining room’ and a seating area with a large outdoor sectional. Think of a large backyard as you would think about an open concept home – although they may not have physical walls, it is important to define and separate areas.

4. Consider the neighbors: while everyone deserves the right to enjoy a good time outside, if there is a shared backyard, you will need to communicate with the neighbors to ensure everyone stays happy. There is nothing worse than annoying a neighbor to the point of contention. We recommend having the tough conversations up front – is all our furniture communal? Will you be okay with different guests out here every night? Is there an opportunity to work together on decorating the space? Having these direct conversations hopefully avoids any tension in the future. Some solutions we have found to be helpful include: design the space together, build an inexpensive privacy fence to divide the property (this could be anything from bamboo stalks – to a trellis with vines – or even a permanent wooden fence! Get creative!) or even have something in your listing telling your guests which parts of the shared property are available to them. There is no right answer here, but getting ahead of the problem is the key to any successful short term rental.

5. Creating a Destination: Before I started decorating short term rentals, I was a frequent visitor to many Airbnbs and VRBOs. Personally, I can tell you that one deciding factor for me was the appearance of the property. In the Instagram age, is your space something a guest would post on their story? Or does it leave something to be desired? Airbnb’s algorithm specifically pushes #experiences. Your property can become one of these with the right décor.

6. The durability and upkeep of the furnishings: While you want your guest to feel transported to a different location; you also have to keep in mind the normal wear and tear that comes with a property. Looking for items that stand up to the elements, as well as the guest use, is vital to the longevity of the items and your success. Something hand woven or one-of-a-kind is likely to wear down over time, requiring replacement, which dips into your profit margin. Also, since the typical STR owner does not frequent the property, you can bet that the chair cushions or couch pillows will be left out the majority of the time, regardless of the weather. Therefore, we recommend finding highly rated, highly durable items to furnish your rental.

7. Place settings: We get into the importance of a well-stocked kitchen here, but we also want to highlight what we believe is necessary if you plan to maintain an outdoor dining room. We live, breathe and die by melamine. It is literally the best creation for those who like to entertain outdoors or even just enjoy the outdoors. A dropped plate or a spilled glass of wine becomes no big deal. We highly recommend every short term rental have two sets of dinnerware; a ‘real’ set for those indoor diners, and a melamine set for the outdoors. We also recommend having a number of placemats or tablecloths on hand, so the guest is not required to do a deep clean before eating outside.

8. Its just the…grill necessities: Okay, that was corny, but we cannot emphasize the power of a grill enough. On average, the same property with a grill vs without is more likely to be booked – simply because people equate grilling to vacation, tailgates, pool days, holidays, etc. We recommend purchasing the works: a nice cover, two tanks of propane (nothing more disappointing than discovering an empty propane tank upon arrival), and at least two sets of grill tools. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times we’ve seen guests leave grill tools outside accidentally.

9. The décor: one of the most important pieces of advice we can give is to make it feel like you’ve brought the inside outdoors. Don’t shy away from the extras: throw pillows, plants a rug or two, even a few accents on tables can go a long way. Making the outdoor space feel as comfortable as the indoor living area, and you can almost guarantee guests will spend more time out there. Don’t forget to include shade! While some people love the sun, you always want to provide a few umbrellas or alternatives to ensure everyone can enjoy the beautiful space you’ve created. Check out our blog for more tips on decorating inside and out!

10. Gardening: whether you have a green thumb or not, part of the magic of an outdoor space is the inviting greenery and flowers that surround you. While we don’t recommend spending a lot of capital on items that are high maintenance; we also think a well-kept lawn makes the difference for relaxation. If a lawn maintenance company isn’t in the budget, think about clovers or other grass alternatives for the large spaces, and minimal upkeep for the flowers.

11. Don’t ever forget the magic of a twinkle light: One of our favorite ways to instantly elevate an outdoor space is to include twinkle lights. A few strands across the patio can instantly improve the feel of the area. This is by far one of our best tricks to impress a prospective guest and improve a current guest’s stay.

Hopefully, these tips will help you create the perfect outdoor living area for YOUR space. There is no one way to create a space that guests will love, so get creative with it! The bottom line is – don’t accept any wasted space in your properties – even the great outdoors!

Check out our services if you want help designing or furnishing your outdoor spaces!

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