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8 Strategies to Make Your Airbnb or Vacation Rental Look Bigger

without adding square footage

 

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September 14, 2017
airbnb staging

As an Airbnb and vacation rental design firm, we are very familiar with both the good and challenging aspects of small square footage.

There is a fine balance between creating a cozy retreat and a cluttered, claustrophobic mess (yikes!). Designing the charming instead of the crammed requires some purposeful strategy.

Don’t fret! Creating a successful small space layout is easier than you might imagine. The key is to trick the viewer into perceiving more space by employing eight simple concepts:

1. Bright White Paint – in Matte

Bright white paint, as in super bright with a matte finish, is one of our favorite ways to expand small spaces.

White is reflective and therefore opens up a room, making it feel airy, light, and peaceful. If you want a cloud-like effect, paint the walls and ceiling the same shade of white. Blurring the boundaries between wall and ceiling manipulates the eye to travel up, elevating the ceiling.

airbnb staging

The Quay Road Villa in Cornwall features bright white paint in a matte finish to amplify the proportions of the room. The result is clean and spacious. It’s hard to resist booking this charmer for a weekend away! Kid & Co.

vacation rental paint

Benjamin Moore’s Super White is our favorite white for maximum expansion and brightening. Super White OC-152

2. Ditch the Curtains

Curtains bulk up a room. Moreover, they distract the eye from taking in the view outside. Instead of curtains, consider simple white roller shades. They provide privacy and yet keep the space simple. And they’re not expensive.

If curtains are a must, in the case of sliding glass or French doors, for instance, use a bar that extends far beyond the window frame, so you can fully expose the window.

vacation rental staging

This Idaho vacation cabin we designed is a mere 1,100 square feet. In order to make it look bigger, we installed simple and inexpensive roller shades in white for all the windows. 1 Chic Retreat

3. Built-in Bunk Beds

Bunk beds are a space saver’s dream, especially in vacation rentals and Airbnb’s catering to families. Unfortunately, bunk beds can easily take over, dwarfing everything else in the room. Building them into the wall, however, makes their footprint less prominent and unclutters the room.

Furthermore, built-in bunk beds are magnets for families! They activate children’s’ storybook fantasies of hidden hideaways, so featuring them in the first few listing photos is a great way to boost bookings.

Built-in bunk beds are not difficult to install; most carpenters can build them in as little as a weekend. Paint them the same color as the walls and they expand the room even more!

airbnb bunkbeds

Built-in bunk beds are streamlined and less bulky than traditional ones. The best though? Kids love them! The Mas de la Roubine Residence from Kid & Co.

4. Mirrors, Mirrors, on the Wall

Wall mirrors are an old trick most of us learned from our elders (hence the reason why antique stores are filled with them) for adding instant square footage without actually doing so.

Mirrors both reflect light and the views outside, thereby tricking the eye into experiencing a more ample sense of openness.

We favor large mirrors for their power to maximize expansion. You find them aplenty at estate sales and via Craig’s List. Don’t like the finish? Paint them in a fetching high-gloss paint.

SAFETY TIP: ANCHOR ALL MIRRORS TO THE WALL, EVEN THE ONES THAT LOOK LIKE THEY ARE RESTING ON THE FLOOR, SO THERE ARE NO GUEST INJURIES.

vacation rental design

The Quay Road Villa’s living room is not big, but the fact that a tall mirror rests on the floor leaning against the wall makes the room look bigger. Kid & Co

5. Keep it on the Down-Low

To create a feeling of spaciousness in a room, buy low to the ground furniture. It’s effective simply because it allows more space above.

For instance, in a small bedroom, a platform or loft-style bed makes the room look bigger. Likewise, in a living room, a low-profile mid-century inspired sofa frees up the room for more upper volume.

airbnb staging

This bedroom in the Joshua Tree Cabin is small and nearly the entire space is taken up by a bed. However, instead of feeling cramped, it feels cozy. Why? The bed is low to the ground. Find it on Instagram at @joshuatreecabin.

6. Leggy, Lithe Furniture

If you want to give the illusion that a room has more space, it’s critical to literally see more air. Lithe furniture allows the viewer to see through it, thereby opening up more cubic square feet.

Avoid chunky, ornate furnishings; instead, go for simple and skinny.vacation rental staging

In this Maui vacation rental, the owners chose leggy dining furniture, allowing the light from outside to stream through. Beach Cottage Maui

7. Banquet Seating in the Dining Room

Have a tiny dining room? Welcome to the club!

This is perhaps the most common challenge for our subscribers and clients.

Our solution?

Either a built-in banquet (with storage underneath) or an upholstered bench you can scoot up against one wall. Eliminating the need to pull out a chair on one side of a dining room not only captures square footage, it also makes the room look bigger.

airbnb furniture

This Santa Barbara county house had the tiniest dining area we’d ever encountered. Pairing red chairs on one side and an upholstered bench on the other maximized the square footage. Design by 1 Chic Retreat

8. The Lithe Luggage Rack

Luggage racks are cool!

All short-term rental bedrooms should have at least one. Not only do they deter guests from throwing dirty suitcases on your nice clean bed linens, they don’t take up much space. When not in use, they can be folded up and kept in the closet.

Luggage racks eliminate the need for too many bulky storage pieces, such as drawered nightstands and large dressers. Remember a huge percentage of your guests will never want to unpack, preferring to live out of their suitcase while residing in your vacation rental or Airbnb.

Word of caution: don’t cheap out! Avoid flimsy models that easily tip over, spilling out guests’ belongings on the floor. Instead, choose sturdy, long lasting luggage racks if you want to keep people happy.

Airbnb luggage rack

Look for a well-made luggage rack like this one found in our marketplace. It’s American made and will last 20 years.

Speaking of small bedrooms, if you want to literally add square footage to your bedrooms without changing the architectural footprint, check out this post.

  • Mercedes, I love how your posts bring up more questions. I’m not a designer, but I’ve instinctively done ‘okay’. Our homes are well rented and comfortable, but not chic. (One is a manufactured home and I’m not sure it could ever be more than cozy & comfortable.) Regardless, I love reading your suggestions and I have a question regarding mirrors. I put mirrors in rooms for practicality. Could you do a post on the various ways to use mirrors effectively? Especially large ones. I would love to have examples!

    • Dianne Carruthers Wood

      One designer showed me to put mirrors, tall ones, behind bedside tables. It is amazing how it looks. Imagine a bed and two bedside tables one on each side. Then tall mirrors behind each bedside table. Amazing.

      • Wendy

        Love the sound of that, will keep that suggestion in mind!
        Mercedes, I always enjoy reading your blog posts.
        Thanks

      • Well, thanks Dianne Carruthers Wood, I could not have said it better! Wendy, I will do a post on mirrors! Thanks for the support and commenting!

  • Very true, Julia. All mirrors must be attached to the wall. In fact, I’m going to edit the post to include that for safety sake. Glad you like the Marketplace! Thanks for commenting!

  • Mercedes, these tips are AMAZING! Lithe furniture? I would have never thought of this. A++++

    • Glad you like it! Lithe furniture really works in small spaces; we use this all the time. :)

 

GET THE FREE LIST OF SHORT-TERM RENTAL ESSENTIAL ITEMS

THE 31 MUST-HAVE ESSENTIALS THAT GUARANTEE GUSHING GUEST REVIEWS

On the house!
100% Privacy Guaranteed