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Christine's Vacation Rental Insights

4 Posts tagged with the decor tag

Making the Grade

Posted by christinekarpinski Nov 30, 2010

Hi everyone,


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had a lovely weekend spent with family and friends.


Last week when my guests checked into one of my properties I called them to touch base and to see if everything was okay (I try to do this whenever I have time, which admittedly isn’t as often as I would like). I got the voicemail, so I left a message. The next day, the guest responded with a very kind email saying they were delighted with our place and went on to say that our place was “better” than any of the other places he stayed in the same complex (he’s a frequent and loyal guest of our complex, though it's his first time staying with us).


I really wondered what made him say that ours was better than the others. I often wonder what it is that makes people enjoy my homes over other homes. Is it the big things or the small touches? Is it the home itself or is it dealing with me? I decided to call him back to probe into it a bit further.


Here’s a recap of the things he told me. While it’s a focus group of one (not really statistically significant) there are insights that can be taken from it.


  • He said this is definitely the nicest of all the other condos in the complex with exceptional furnishings and amazing appointments.


  • The bedrooms were much nicer than any of the other properties. He liked that they were actually decorated with artwork on the walls and pretty bedding. He especially loved the nice quality sheets.


  • He absolutely loved the big, thick towels in the bathrooms.


  • He said he liked how well the kitchen was equipped even down to plenty of kitchen towels.


  • He appreciated the cleanliness of the property, he went on to say it was the cleanest place he has rented (yea for my housekeeper!)


  • And lastly he said he really appreciated the ease and courtesy of making the reservation.


So the bottom line that I took away was it is not one thing that makes or breaks us in this business. It’s more often the entire package that the guests appreciate—the home, the furnishings, the added touches, the décor and the professionalism.




Decorating From Afar

Posted by christinekarpinski Feb 16, 2010

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a good week. I took a lot of booking this past weekend between watching the Olympic events. (I’m getting so excited for my trip to Olympics! I leave next weekend.)

Yesterday I called my designer in Florida because I’m in desperate need of some redecorating in one of my condos. (It’s been nearly 4 years since I replaced my sofas.) So how do I decorate from a distance? I gave my designer my VRBO listing number and told him that I wanted to stay with the same color themes and not have to replace drapery, artwork, or coffee table, end tables, etc. Simply put, I needed new sofas, an accent chair and an ottoman. So here’s the room I needed to change:

Decorating From Afar

Within a few minutes, my designer emailed me some photos and this is the new sofa and chair I ultimately chose:

Decorating From Afar

The chair is made with micro-fiber and the sofa is made of the new Sunbrella fabric, both of which work really well for rentals. I was so happy to have found something so quickly.

So my next step was to call my guests who are in that condo and ask them if it would be okay if I had a delivery of new furniture while they are there. They were more than happy and quite delighted to be the recipients of the new furniture. Yes! Everything worked out very smoothly.

As luck would have it, nothing is ever that easy! I got a call from the furniture store (my designer had already gone for the day) and they regretted to inform me that the sofa I ordered was already sold out. And yes, even the floor model was sold! So they said not to worry— they have a few other styles I that would work. Here’s what they sent me:

Decorating From Afar Decorating From Afar Decorating From Afar

My response to these 3 other choices was No, No and No! The first one is a bit too wild and crazy for my taste. The 2nd one is too retro 1980’s and the 3rd one is far too white to have in a rental unit. I was so disappointed! In the end, I simply reverted back to my first choice and decided to order it even though it will take 4-6 weeks for delivery. Not such a bad option expect... my poor renters are going to be so disappointed when I call them and tell them the new furniture will not arrive this week.

Happy Renting!


PS. I will not be blogging next week because I’ll be at the Olympics!

Hello all! I cannot believe it's already the last week of January. Where does the time go?

All in all, January was a steady inquiry month for all of my properties. I was a bit concerned because I thought by this same time last year I had more bookings, so I looked up last year's stats and sure enough, I am at just about the same pace as I was the previous year. I suspect February will be less Looky-Lou's ("lookers, not bookers") and more people who will just call and book (or at least I hope).

Every January I try to make improvements in my properties. This year I have decided to change out my queen-sized beds (that were in my cabin when I purchased it) and replace them with kings.

We'll it's just not that easy of a task—you have to first find mattresses. Ok I have a really good vendor that I use for beds~ Velorlo. They have great quality commercial grade mattresses. Just give them a call, order the mattresses, and set up a delivery date.

The next thing I had to do was find a new bed frame. And of course I would prefer log beds because it's a cabin. If you have ever searched for log beds before you'll know my pains. There are about a million different manufacturers from the mass production places to the one-off guy who makes them in his back yard. Then there are the different types of materials—pine, willow, white cedar, red cedar, aspen, oak, cherry and the list goes on. And then you have to choose a finish, with the bark or without, rustic peeled, rough cut, smooth finish, unfinished, oiled, stained, Aaaaahhhhhhhh too many decisions! I get very overwhelmed with decisions. In the end what I did was called another owner that I know who has log beds. I asked her what she bought and then I just got the same ones. Yes it's lame, but I would have never made a decision on my own.

Now it's time to buy new sheets, new quilts, pillow shams, dust ruffles, and I'll probably have to change the curtains because the old ones won't match.

And lastly, try to coordinate it so everything is delivered around the same time.

I thought I was just going to switch the size of the beds—not so easy I guess!

Happy Renting by Owner!


Hi all!

This week represents the official end to spring break! I hope you and your homes all survived, had tons of great renters and no beer-drinking, college spring breakers.

Within the next few weeks, our next wave of inquiries and bookings should come rolling in for the busy summer rental season. If you're already booked—great! If not, now's the time to start thinking about attracting the next wave of travelers: Change your headlines, alter your descriptions, make sure your rates and calendars are up-to-date and your photos are the best!

I have reassessed my ads and all's well except I'll have to write some new descriptions and get new photos of my cabins.

Remember a few months ago when I wrote about buying new beds? Well this week they are scheduled to arrive. This news sent me frantically shopping for new linens (remember I'm switching my beds from queens to kings, so this means all new bedding too!). The first place I went was Costco. I found that King sheets were between $65 and $100. Wow, that's much more than queen sets.

Next, I let my fingers do the walking on the Internet to do some price comparison shopping. The best prices for good quality sheets I found were on For $40 I was able to get 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets w/4 pillow cases (I love the bonus pillow cases, since it seems like I replace pillowcases sooner than sheets.)

The benefit of buying Egyptian cotton is that—yes, they are very nice sheets—but now I can advertise my homes as having luxury sheets. I am hoping this will piqué the interest of a couple of renters that would have maybe otherwise glanced passed my property.

After sheets, I needed new blankets, quilts, pillow shams, dust ruffles, and mattress pads. I was able to find all of these items reasonably priced on as well. So I purchased everything in one shot and had it shipped to my housekeeper. The total damage to my pocketbook was a mere $280 per bed (including shipping and taxes), which included 2 sets of sheets (one on the bed and one spare), 4 pillows (2 for sleeping and 2 for the shams), a blanket, mattress pad, quilt, shams and dust ruffle. I think I did pretty well! Hopefully they'll make it at the same time as the beds.

Happy Renting by Owner!