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Our $2K Vacation Rental Makeover (and our 5X ROI)

2018 was our best rental year yet, and it was all because we did this one thing.

In last week's post, I shared how one of the mistakes that we made was really not investing in our decor soon enough.

This week, I'm going to share how our $2,000 vacation rental makeover resulted in having our best year yet in 2018, and it beat those previous years by a long shot!

Today, I will break down what we did and the impact that it had. I'll first preface by saying that I am not an interior designer by any stretch of the imagination, and our design skills are nothing that is going to blow your mind. It's no HGTV before-and-after reveal 😊.

Before the Vacation Rental Makeover

I do think it's important to share that even basic design skills and a modest redecorating budget like $2,000 can go a long way. Here's a picture of our living room before we redecorated.

vacation rental makeover (before)

I do want to provide just a little quick backstory of how we started with what I'm calling the hodgepodge, disjointed look.

The home was bought with the furniture already in place, and we had replaced things throughout the years as needed.

For the most part, this was resulting in a really hodgepodge look, and it really wasn't well thought out because we were just replacing it with second-hand items from our primary home!

The $2,000 Vacation Rental Makeover

With our redecorating budget, we concentrated most of that in the main living area and the bathrooms.

A large portion of our budget, went towards brand-new couches. We knew that we wanted to invest in something that was going to hold up to our guests a little bit more and clean up easier. We knew that we wanted to start there because that was going to be a key part of our investment.

Vacation rental makeover on a budget

From there, we were able to replace the area rug, the bathroom shower curtains, the towels in all of the bathrooms, and then what really went a long way for a small budget were things like fake flowers and small decorations that we could place throughout the house to just bring that warmth in and just tie the style in throughout the house.

We also painted a blue accent wall which really helps the room jump off the page in the listing results.

vacation rental bathroom

The last major piece and probably one that I think had the biggest impact overall and helped personalize our home was that we took down just about everything that had previously been on our walls because it was a mix of different styles and decorations, and we decided to just put all photography from our lake area on the walls.

They're photos that we either took ourselves or friends and family that have come to visit us at the lake have taken. It just brings a really nice touch to the home overall.

There's a really nice personal touch to that, and we replaced the wall decorations throughout the entire home with these types of photos.

Those were the main areas that we invested in with our $2,000 budget. I would say a very large majority of the items that we bought came from IKEA. So, of course, we were able to stretch our budget quite a bit at IKEA.

The couches actually came from Menards, which I was surprised. I had never even known that Menards carried couches, but they do. So far, we're about a little over a year into having them, and they have held up very, very well through our busy year.

Here are the before and after pictures side-by-side so you can see what a big difference the investment made in just the living room alone.

Vacation rental before & after makeover pictures

The best part was once we had our home redecorated, it was time to take new professional photos. The very next thing we did right after we redecorated it was we called our photographer, and he came out and took all new pictures.

Results from the Vacation Rental Makeover

Once we updated our listing, we noticed pretty quickly that we could charge more for our rental than we had previously charged, and we were booking up even more so than before, and we had been pretty full in prior years. But this makeover sealed the deal and allowed us to have our best year yet.

Now, let's talk about the results that we saw. As I mentioned, our pictures and new décor allowed us to increase our prices, and we also saw that immediately there was more demand for our rental.

We were getting more clicks and more bookings in the harder-to-book seasons.

This resulted in a $10,000 increase in rental bookings from 2017 to 2018.

So we were really happy with those results, and we know that the nature of our rental is that compound effect, and that we will continue to see the result of this effort for years to come, and 2019 is already shaping up to be an even better year than 2018.

So, to say the least, the $2,000 investment was by far worth it, and I certainly wish we did it sooner!


If you've been thinking about doing a rental makeover yourself, I hope that provides you with a little inspiration to bite the bullet.

Also, if you're new to this industry and looking for some help getting started, I have the perfect resource for you.

It's called The Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap, and it is my seven-step guide to getting started with marketing your property so that you can get more rental bookings and a fully booked calendar.

You can just grab your free copy, and it'll be sent directly to your inbox.

Be sure to grab your free marketing guide here!

Vacation Rental Marketing Guide

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