Going Coastal on the Cheap: Ways to spruce up your vacation rental home without breaking your budget

In today’s economy, just because you have to scale back on your budget doesn’t mean you can’t provide an attractive and up-to-date rental home for your guests. There are a myriad of minor improvements you can make to your home over the winter off-season that will be a breath of fresh air to your favorite repeat renters, and provide a little extra coastal charm.

Winter sales: Coastal décor is essential for a beach home, as half the allure of a vacation rental home is that it encapsulates the coastal living lifestyle. A few decorative shells in vases or in showcase spots around the house will do in a pinch, but the holiday season is an ideal time to stop by local Outer Banks island decor shops, like The Cottage Shop, Exotic Cargo or Dockside Furniture, and pick up a few beach themed items at a great discount. Because the crowds have thinned and local stores are thinking about new 2009 merchandise, many local shops offer huge discounts on décor and furnishings.

Break out the paintbrushes: During a working winter vacation, why not spruce up a plain bedroom or living area with a fresh coat of paint? No need to redo the entire house – A brightly colored accent wall will go a long way in making your home coastal and cheerful. Just be sure to keep the beach hues in mind when you choose your colors, like sea and sky blues, palm inspired greens, and soft sunny yellows.

Tackle the landscaping: Curb appeal can go a long way, considering that the exterior of your home is the first thing guests see and use to form their opinion of your beach house. Also, potential guests staying in your neighborhood might decide to book your house for next year based on the outside alone. Because of this, it’s not a bad idea to spruce up the exterior before the first guests arrive. Add new deck furniture, or paint existing older Adirondack chairs and tables. Remove any cactus patches that could penetrate a flip flop, and add a little pampas grass, a couple of Russian Olive trees, or other hardy, local plants that do well in sea air. For ideas, go to a local nursery, like the Island Garden Center in Frisco, to find what plants work best in your area, and also cost the least.

Take it one room at a time: A common misconception is that if you remodel one room, you have to remodel the entire home. This isn’t the case, and it’s much simpler and economical to concentrate your efforts on just one or two important rooms. Try refreshing your master bedroom with new comforters and curtains, or making a sparsely furnished bunk bedroom into a cool kids’ room with a surfer or beach theme. Adding a TV or DVD player in a master or kids’ room can also go a long way in making a guest’s stay that much more enjoyable. There are also little things you can add around the house, like a new set of margarita glasses or a towel rack near the hot tub, that are convenient touches that guests will notice and appreciate.

Remember, whether you spend $50 or $50,000 remodeling for 2009, guests can tell when thought has been put into the décor and furnishing of a rental home. Use the wintertime to make a few inexpensive upgrades that guests will appreciate, and enjoy the savings for bigger projects down the road… or maybe for just another “working” vacation at the beach house.

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