Staging is an element of décor that I have personal experience with. My husband and I own a lovely home in East Hampton that we use as our personal respite, but because our businesses keep us very busy in the city, we offer our Long Island Manse for vacation rentals over the summer months. We’ve been at this for 20 years or so and believe we’ve got it down to a welcoming science.
Of course, when we are living and visiting our home over the fall and winter months, we settle in with our personal belongings – throw pillows, afghans and photographs. Along with that are my personal kitchen utensils (you know your favorite spatula and saucepan).
Alas, at the end of the season, we pack up these items for a quick summer’s nap and to prep the house for what we hope are long-term visitors.
We love our home and want to share it with others as it reflects a sense of relaxation and security, which is what everyone, looks to when taking some well-deserved time off.
Pack Away the Personals
As I mention, first we get our personal things boxed up and take some back to the city and others are placed in what we call the ‘owner’s closet’ that has a key lock.
Other items that get packed away include our photographs, toilette items including hair dryers, brushes, combs, soaps, and shampoos, et al. Keep in mind, it’s not theirs it’s yours. When packing away the items, consider switching places and think about what you would actually use that belonged to someone else – not much.
Make It Homey – Yet Foolproof
Let’s face it. Not every tenant or vacationer is ideal. As a matter of fact, some folks can be less than concerned with your household items, so if there are any family heirlooms or special pieces you’d like to preserve, pack those away too.
Personal pictures whether hung or in frames placed on tabletops need to be put away as well. The idea is that when someone comes in they feel they are in their home for their stay not yours.
The Set Up
Once the packing is complete, insure that the home is clean, smelling great and all surfaces are cleared off. If you provide linens in your rental, those should be clean, folded and readily available in quantities needed for the number of potential overnight lodgers.
Basic kitchen items and perhaps some simple appliances such as a toaster or blender. If you own a high-end drink mixer and aren’t sure about how well it will be cared for, put that away too. Make it easy for your guest-homemaker to move with ease in your kitchen. It will make for a great experience for their entire party during their stay.
We make it a practice to meet all our renters. The experience is a positive one and benefits both parties. We use the time to tour the home and provide an initial overview of all the home’s details. When they arrive for their stay, we leave a welcome note along with a bottle of champagne or wine and some fresh cut flowers which is a lovely personal touch. It leaves the renters with a feeling warmth and of being at home instead of a hotel.
Don’t be afraid to leave behind a set of ‘House Rules’ or ‘Welcome Letter’ so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations. Does the trash need to be taken out to a special receptacle when the tenant leaves? Is there a special way to operate a hot tub, pool, or sauna? How about using the remotes for the televisions? We all know how different each is to use. Although we’ve taken the time to review in person leaving behind the information is extremely helpful.
Providing activity suggestions such as local wineries, museums, and historical landmarks are also a nice touch. Local restaurants will happily give you extra copies of menus. Provide your guests with all these specifics in a lovely binder and in a place where it can be easily found and referred to.
Ultimately, the idea is to leave your home ready for someone else to move in albeit temporarily and enjoy it as if it were their own.
Last, invite your guest to do something special. I remember a visit I took on the Potomac River one year and listed on the homeowners ‘House Rules’ was “never miss a sunset on the rivah.” And I never did.