VRS040 – Affordable Design, Sexy Bedrooms, and Vacation Rental Branding with Mercedes Brennan

When I first started in this business the overriding attitude seemed to be that the rental was the last resting place for everything no longer wanted in the primary home. It was where mattresses, old sofas and relics of yesteryear went to die. Sadly, a short time spent looking at listing sites shows these properties still existand are being rented to guests who may believe this is the norm.

My guest in this episode knocks this on the head, and delivers the strong message that the old view…..

‘It’s just a vacation home and no-one cares about the aesthetics, the look, the furniture and the décor’

….is outdated and vacation rentals are ready for a revolution!

tweetGreat podcast with @CottageGuru @1ChicRetreat about affordable #design, sexy bedrooms, and #vacationrental branding

Mercedes Brennan is a talented designer who has honed her skills in the world of celebrity décor and design. Having worked with celebrity designer Windsor Smith on a home that was subsequently sold to Gwyneth Paltrow, she has turned her hand to her real passion – vacation rentals – and we can all now benefit from her blog at 1ChicRetreat.com.

She works on the premise that anyone of us…..even me…..can create a brand for our vacation homes and leads the way with easy to follow guidelines. If you are at all interested in creating the look that will inspire guests to book your place, Mercedes’ blog is the place to go.

This is what we talked about in this episode:

  • How to get your place to ‘suck up bookings’
  • Why there is so much power in having a beautiful vacation rental
  • 3 design mistakes no-one wants to make
  • Why you need to get rid of the ‘granny bedspread’
  • What it would mean to date or marry your furniture!
  • The reason to ditch the dumpy sofa
  • Your aesthetic brand, and how to translate a theme, mood or vibe into your décor
  • How to appeal to your ideal guests
  • Why your architecture matters
  • Lighting from big box stores…..and a blog post promise!
  • How to approach decorating in an affordable way

And much more!

[ois skin=”In Post Sign Up”]


Igavel Auctions

House of Windsor – Veranda Magazine ( spot the horse in the doorway!)

The Design Concept Part One


Where you can find Mercedes:












Thanks, very informative and easy to apply strategy.

One Chic Retreat

Thanks for having me on the show Heather! You are a great interviewer and a natural podcaster. Lots of fun!

Heather Bayer

You gave me so many ideas…I am busy rebranding!

Heather Bayer

Glad you enjoyed it – let us know all about your place.


Love everything about Mercedes and always keep an eye on her blog. Her tips have guided us towards setting up our Abalone Bay home in Sea Ranch, CA. We have put many of her tips into our home. Thanks for having her on.

And who knew she was in Chile–we’re there now!

One Chic Retreat

Donna, thanks for your kind words! Where in Chile are you?

Amy Blomquist

I’m so happy you had Mercedes on the show! Love her blog and wealth of tips she shares! My next project is to ‘sex up’ the bedrooms. I’m guilty of tucking in the duvet and keeping everything ‘tight.’ I sure hope you offer the classes next year, Mercedes!

One Chic Retreat

Thanks Amy! I love your vc and hope to do a feature on it soon. So inspiring. Let me know how the sex-friendly bedrooms go.


Following Mercedes is so much fun! I love the idea of implementing changes that so dramatically improve the looks of my places.

Mercedes, can you do a youtube video on how to make up a pretty bed? My housekeepers all have different methods, I’ve searched pinterest for different styles, but there is just not enough information or pictures of different styles out there.

Also in the podcast, when you were selecting a vacation rental for your own vacation you mentioned “oh, the dishes!” Do you REALLY think having upscale dinnerware is important? Should I consider getting rid of my Corelle ware?

Thanks so much! and thanks to you too, Heather, for the podcast!

Heather Bayer

Hi Debi – I’m going to chime in on the dinnerware issue. I use Corelle – in my RV – and really good stoneware in my rental places. We went to a property in Sedona a few years ago and absolutely loved the dinnerware; in fact so much so I ordered it when I got home and we’ve been using it ourselves ever since. I really feel pampered when there is good dinnerware – I’m afraid Corelle would make me feel I was camping.

On the bedroom front, have you checked my Pinterest board – there’s a lot of good bedroom ideas there: http://www.pinterest.com/cottageguru/staging-vacation-rental-homes/

I’ve thought about breaking out the bedroom images into another board. What do you think?

One Chic Retreat

Hi Debi, thank you for your kind words. I am very happy I have been helpful! I will keep your suggestion in mind about the ‘how to make a bed’ video. That indeed could be helpful.

In terms of your dishes: yes, I agree with Heather. Good quality plates, spoons and glasses are super important in all levels of vacation rentals. Guests want to feel pampered and Corelle will not make them feel this way.

My motto: anything a guest touches – be it dinnerware, cutlery, sheets, towels, pillows, upholstery, rugs – needs to be of good quality. We are sensuous creatures and all our senses are on high alert on vacation.

Hope that helps!


Thank you Heather & Mercedes! I’m taking this to heart and have scoured the web for a set of dishes that I like. I have found that by joining Pfaltzgraff’s mailing list I can get 20% off my first order, and shipping over a certain $ amount is free. I have 3 houses that need new dishes. So…slowly dragging myself out of the ‘garage sale’ mindset … Checking out flatware next. Any suggestions?

One Chic Retreat

I love the solidness of Pottery Barn flatware and it lasts for years and years. My favorites are Katherine or Caterers.

Heather Bayer

I have always been a big Ikea fan. Very reasonably priced but great quality flatware, glassware and cutlery.

Comments are closed