Setting up a holiday let: Decorating and furnishing

Setting up a holiday let: Decorating and furnishing

Back to Owner advice

Top tips for furnishing and decorating your holiday cottage

When it comes to setting up a holiday let, the house can very much be a blank canvas. Decorating your holiday cottage well and making the most of the space on offer can often be your key to success.

Making just a few changes to your décor can make all the difference when it comes to maximising bookings.

Here are ten ways you can spruce up your cottage and make it more enjoyable for your guests.

Don’t buy all of your furniture from the same place

Buying all of your furniture from the same store can make a room look too uniform, and make guests feel as if they’re looking at the pages of a catalogue rather than a comfortable holiday home. Mix and match to keep things interesting and to add a touch of personality to your cottage.

Take a look at our guides to see how to achieve Vintage, Nautical, Minimalist and Victorian styles in your holiday home.

Be practical

Think about the longevity of your décor and furnishings, not just about their appearance. Light-coloured carpets and bed linen, for instance can stain easily, while stocking up the kitchen cupboards with bone china may also not be such a sensible idea. Accidents can happen when guests come to stay, but thinking practically when kitting out your home can help minimise them.

Don’t skimp on quality, but don’t go overboard

Furniture and decorative items should be seen as an investment, and should hopefully last you a few years before you need to give the place a refresh, even if you have plenty of guests to stay. Buying cheap furniture and appliances will cost you more in the long run as you will have to replace them more often. Guests may also notice when you have cut corners and not paid quite as much attention to detail than they would like, and may not come back. Spending too much on interiors can also be a problem, as although you may increase the number of bookings, you may not see a full return on your investment.

setting up a holiday let

Add some personal touches, but not too many

Giving your holiday cottage an injection of personality can be a good thing, and helps the interior of your cottage stand out over others. Try using a few items of feature furniture or even just some striking decorative pieces of art to give your interior a lease of life. Make sure you don’t overdo it – putting too much of a stamp on the cottage can deter guests – they will want to feel at home, rather than feeling like they are staying at somebody else’s.

Cater to parties of different kinds and sizes

Key to attracting more bookings is being able to cater to the needs that your guests may have. Using zip-and-link beds, for instance, can make the sleeping arrangements at your cottage much more flexible and therefore cater to more groups of people. If you’re looking to also attract families to your property, consider adding some baby-friendly and child-friendly features, such as stair gates, toys, and child-sized crockery and cutlery; you should also make sure your furniture has no sharp edges.

Pay attention to space

Space can be hugely important in a property, especially when a large party is coming to stay. Cramming too much furniture into a space can create problems, especially for those with mobility issues, and can look like you are trying too hard to fit in as many guests as possible. On the flipside, however, leaving too much blank space can make your cottage look sparse and unfinished.

setting up a holiday let

Use the local area as inspiration

The local area is often the main reason that people are thinking of visiting your cottage, so why not bring it into your cottage? Local touches you could add may include everything from local produce hampers to works by local artists, pictures of the nearby coast or countryside or even local materials such as wood or stone.

Make sure your choices are photogenic

Many guests base their choice of where to stay on the photos of the accommodation, so making your property look as photogenic as possible is key. Make sure there is plenty of lighting available to really show off your property, while you should also consider what kind of furniture does and doesn’t photograph well. Glass tables, for instance, may be difficult to wipe fingerprints from, while dark leather suites are also hard to photograph.

Don’t forget the necessities

So, your guests like the look of your photos and have booked a stay – how can you ensure they return? Make sure you include everything they could possibly need to feel completely at home in your cottage. This could range from a kitchen fully stocked with appliances to supplying toiletries, tea and coffee.

Use customer feedback for pointers

The best people to hear from about how to improve the guest experience are the guests themselves. Take a look at customer reviews or perhaps feedback in your guestbook if you have one for any suggestions you guests may have provided. It could be anything from supplying a more comfortable bed to ways to make your property more accessible that could help make all the difference with your bookings.

If you have any questions about setting up a holiday let, get in touch with our friendly team for some free advice.

Posted by Hannah on 20 February 2017, updated in 2018.

To get your free comprehensive owner's guide or to talk to one of our local experts