How to Build an Outdoor Living Area at Your Vacation Rental

    outdoor amenities for vacation rentals Balconies, porches and decks can be among the most influential factors for renters choosing a vacation property, but creating an outdoor living space for your guests doesn't have to be a $40,000 investment. By focusing on your guests' comfort and use of space, you can capitalize on your home's appeal to nature lovers and sun goddesses by extending your living space outdoors — without spending a fortune.

    Outdoor Furniture

    First, consider the number of people your house can accommodate. If your house sleeps six, it would be ideal for you to have enough outdoor furniture to seat six as well. You might even want to have additional seating in case your renters (or your own family) have guests when visiting the home.

    You should choose outdoor furniture that works for your property type, be it a tropical condo or a rustic cabin. While the appearance of your furniture deserves quite a bit of attention, comfort is equally important. Adirondack chairs are popular choices for lake homes and cottages, but a glider might be a more comfortable alternative. Swings, rocking chairs, or a hammock are also a nice touch. Consider adding some smaller tables as well, so renters have somewhere to set their drink or book while relaxing outdoors. If you purchase furniture with cushions, just remember to look for water and mildew resistant materials.

    Purchasing the cheapest outdoor furniture might not be a wise decision if you expect it to get a lot of use. It might be worthwhile to invest a bit more and look for pieces that will stand up to the elements, as well as normal wear and tear. Also, be aware that plastics can become somewhat malleable in the intense heat, and you want to make sure it is sturdy enough for your guests. However, that does not mean you have to purchase top-of-the-line lounge chairs and tables. You can find plenty of comfortable bistro sets or reasonably priced dining tables at many home furnishing stores.


    Your renters might take advantage of your outdoor area to enjoy their meals. Since barbecuing is a popular pastime for vacationers, you should give some consideration to charcoal vs. gas grills. The taste of the food might be a factor for when your family comes to visit, but also consider the space and the costs involved.

    Charcoal Grills

    Typically less expensive to purchase and replace
    Many people prefer the taste

    Not available in many sizes
    Food takes longer to cook
    Greater risk of fire hazards

    Gas/Electric Grills

    Food cooks more quickly
    Available in many sizes
    Quick turn on/turn off
    More expensive to purchase
    Must keep up with propane tanks and fuel
    Guests could accidentally drain propane if they forget to turn it off

    Ultimately the decision comes down to your space and personal preference, but the barbecue grill is another aspect of outdoor living where a slightly more expensive product could be worth the investment. Make sure you look for a durable grill that cleans easily and doesn't rust. It is also important to provide some basic grill tools such as tongs, spatulas and a grill brush for your renters to use, and you should always keep a fire extinguisher nearby as well. (Note: You can often find great deals on grills and supplies after the peak summer grilling season ends.)

    Heating & Cooling

    heating and cooling your vacation home If you own a vacation home in a cooler market, you might want to make your outdoor space more usable year-round by adding an outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces can range from a chiminea, to a fire pit or an actual built-in fireplace. Before installing a fireplace, however, consider the risks and added maintenance costs. There might also be laws and regulations regarding outdoor fireplaces (or fire restrictions in drought areas), so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.

    If you don't want to go the fireplace route, consider adding an outdoor heater to keep your guests warm. Many outdoor heaters come with an auto shut-off for safety purposes and most can be operated with just a push of a button. Outdoor heaters are typically an inexpensive addition to your outdoor living space, but keep in mind that it will likely require propane as well.

    On the other hand, if you own a vacation home in a warm destination, you'll want to try to keep your guests cool so they can enjoy your outdoor living space even on the hottest days. If you have a covered patio, consider adding a ceiling fan. Otherwise, you might want to purchase some small tabletop or oscillating fans. Just make sure to purchase fans that are suitable for the outdoors so they won't rust. If your outdoor living space is uncovered, you can also consider offering your guests more shade by investing in awnings or an umbrella over the dining area.

    Outdoor Entertainment

    outdoor entertainment for vacation rental guests Outdoor games and toys are a great (and inexpensive) way to offer your guests some options for free entertainment and could make your home stand out over another. Both children and adults appreciate yard games like horseshoes, croquet or bocce ball, as well as toys like Frisbees, footballs or water guns. If you have a large enough yard, consider adding a swing set, badminton or volleyball net or even a basketball goal. But again, you don't have to go overboard — a few extra touches can go a long way in keeping your guests entertained.

    Adding Ambiance

    Now that all the practical items are in place, it's time to set the atmosphere. One of the best ways to improve the feel of your space is to add lighting. If you have an uncovered space with no overhead lighting, you can purchase outdoor lanterns or perhaps string some small lights around your deck.

    You can also decorate the area with outdoor-appropriate knickknacks, rocks and other items gathered from around your home, or add potted plants, herbs or vegetable gardens for your guests to use when they're cooking. Tabletop fountains are another great way to improve the ambiance of your outdoor living area with the soothing sounds of running water.

    Be it a balcony or a private beach, creating an outdoor living area is a great way to maximize your property's square footage while creating a stellar selling point for potential renters.

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