Staging a Short Term Rental: Guide and Q&A

Jan 25, 2023, written by Dennis Shirshikov

If you're unfamiliar with the term or concept, home staging is the temporary interior design of a property, generally executed on a short timeline and modest budget. Staging is done to market a home available for purchase, lease, or rental, making it not only ultra-valuable for sellers and realtors, but also for potential buyers so they're able to see what's possible in the space.

Summer provides flexible, affordable homebuying solutions and property management to allow homeowners an easy, hassle free path to transforming a vacation rental into a top performing destination. Click here to learn more about Summer’s innovative solutions and expert services.

Q&A with Ash Staging: Staging a Short Term Rental

Ash Staging is a premiere design service for properties in premium vacation markets like New York City, the Hamptons, Florida, Los Angeles, and beyond. We chatted with Dylan Stilin, Ash's East Coast director of staging, to learn more about the benefits of home staging, as well as the process from start to finish.

Photos courtesy of Christian Harder (@christianharder).
What is the value in staging a home?

There’s no doubt that staging a short term rental, particularly luxury staging, is a significant investment. By making the space shine in photos, staging sets the tone as soon as a home hits the market, before anyone even steps foot in the door. Once buyers come in, our work entices them by showcasing the lifestyle opportunities that the home offers. Of course, there are also times when a home is dated or has certain challenges, visual or otherwise. In those cases, our work can offer a distraction and show that these challenges do not have to be dealbreakers. The homes that we stage typically sell shortly after listing and for over the asking price, showing that quality staging is more than worth the investment.

"By making the space shine in photos, staging sets the tone as soon as a home hits the market, before anyone even steps foot in the door."

How do you decide what aesthetic/design style— i.e. coastal, midcentury, minimal— to apply to a particular home?

We take a very holistic approach to design and let the homes that we work in tell us what they need. At the same time, we always like to ask lots of questions of our clients along the way to make sure we are resonating with their target market. On every project, our goal is to create something that speaks to the property and to the person who will eventually call it home. By keeping in mind the smallest of details— from what this person wears and what music they listen to, to what cocktails they drink— we can create a full sensory experience that is bespoke and intriguing.

How much input does the homeowner receive in the staging process?

This often depends on the type of client that we are working with and their priorities when it comes to staging, but we always invite feedback and present options for our clients to review and approve before we move anything in. Our projects really run the full spectrum, with some clients never stepping foot in the home after signing our contract and sending a deposit and others wanting to be involved every step of the way. As much as we love to see our vision come to life, it can also be extremely rewarding to finish a project where we can see that the collaborative effort lead to something even more beautiful and interesting than we had imagined.

"By keeping in mind the smallest of details— from what this person wears and what music they listen to, to what cocktails they drink— we can create a full sensory experience that is bespoke and intriguing."

What happens to the furniture post-sale of the home? Does the homebuyer have the option to keep certain pieces?

It doesn’t happen often, but we are generally always willing to part with our furniture for the right price. We have naturally seen an influx of these inquiries over the past year or two due to the continued supply chain issues, but there are still only a handful of projects where the buyer ultimately decides to keep the staging in place. With our business model, it generally only makes sense for us to offer this as an “all or nothing” proposition, and that just doesn’t work for everyone. That being said, it works very well for some people and we have found the convenience to be something that certain clients definitely appreciate.

What are some of your go-to furniture and decor brands for staging a home?

All of our vendors and manufacturers have to be kept confidential for competitive reasons, but we love shopping and are always on the lookout for new designs. People might be surprised to see the range of our inventory, which includes everything vintage finds found at tag sales to designer sofas that are worth thousands of dollars. We typically gravitate towards an eclectic mix that feels layered and lived in while still maintaining that all important sense of luxury.

"We typically gravitate towards an eclectic mix that feels layered and lived in while still maintaining that all important sense of luxury."

Rental Home Staging Tips & Tricks

The Art of Vacation Rental Staging:

When it comes to setting your vacation home apart from the competition, the art of vacation rental staging plays a pivotal role. A well-staged vacation rental home isn’t just about making the space look attractive; it’s about creating an environment that resonates with potential guests. Employing staging tips like utilizing natural light can drastically alter the ambiance of your property. By opening up curtains and arranging seating areas near windows, you allow natural light to enhance the space, making it feel more welcoming and spacious.

Creating a Focal Point in Your Short-Term Rental Property

In any vacation rental staging process, identifying and emphasizing a focal point in your space is crucial. This could be a unique piece of art, a cozy fireplace, or a stunning view from the balcony. A well-chosen focal point draws the eye and sets the tone for the entire space. It’s not just about decoration; it’s about creating a memorable experience that makes your Airbnb or VRBO listing stand out in the minds of potential guests.

Making Your Space Feel Inviting

To make your vacation rental homes more appealing, it’s important to focus on making the space feel inviting and comfortable. This involves considering every aspect of the guest experience. Soft, plush furnishings, warm ceiling lights, and carefully chosen decor can transform a room into a haven for weary travelers. Remember, the goal is to make guests feel at home the moment they step through the door.

Strategic Use of Lighting in Vacation Rental Homes

Lighting is a crucial element in vacation rental staging. The right balance of natural and artificial lighting can make a room feel larger and more inviting. Ceiling lights, in particular, can be used to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, while also highlighting the rental’s best features. Thoughtful placement of lamps and accent lights can add depth to the room and enhance its overall aesthetic appeal.

Summer’s Expertise in Short Term Rentals

Summer’s design service is more than an aesthetic enhancement; it's a strategic tool designed to increase rental income and enhance the guest experience. From optimizing hundreds of rentals, our team of design and STR experts have the tools, connections, and experience to make thoughtful and impactful recommendations, in addition to steering clear of ineffective recommendations and costly designers upselling their services. 

Looking for an easy, affordable way to elevate your vacation rental? Book a free consultation here with Summer’s design experts today. 

About Summer

Summer offers innovative solutions designed to streamline and enhance the vacation rental experience for both property owners and guests. Central to their offerings is a professional interior design service tailored for short-term rentals, ensuring properties are not only visually appealing but also functional and guest-friendly. This service extends from conceptual design to furniture sourcing, with a keen focus on creating spaces that attract positive reviews and repeat bookings. 

In addition to design services, Summer excels in comprehensive property management and flexible financing options, aiding property owners in renovations and cash flow management. Visit to learn more. Considering buying a second home or vacation property? Click here to discover Summer’s flexible, affordable homebuying solutions or book a free consultation now with one of our experts.

For more on Ash Staging, click here.

This article was written by
Dennis Shirshikov

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