What Do Your Bedrooms Say About Your Property?

driftwood bedroom I spoke with several renters this week who were pondering options for their summer vacation, and as usual, asked what their criteria were for their dream vacation rental. The response is usually the same – that the ‘must-have’ requirements are:

“Great waterfront for the kids; a clean and well-maintained home, and comfortable beds”

There’s not much that can be done about a waterfront location. If you have one and it’s got a sandy beach, shallow water and fabulous views, this may be the best selling point, however more potential rental clients are commenting on the bedrooms photos and this suggests that these are having more of an impact on the decision making process than other rooms.

This seems to me to be just common sense. Create a superb looking listing with enticing images and it will attract more interest, and most owners understand that. But in my effort to root out the bad apples in the barrel and challenge complacency I’m still coming across some just unbelievable pictures. Bare mattresses; stained comforters and pillows; rooms with just a bed and no side-tables, lamps or window coverings, are common in this category. This seems such gross disrespect to the people that are paying to stay in these places and of course, reflects badly on the industry as a whole.

I’d love to name and shame and upload the photos, captioning with the Dr Phil comment, ‘What are you thinking?’, but since I’m having an ethical kind of day I’ll make do with some examples where I’ve worked with new owners to create more attractive images.

I’m in the final stages of a new ebook called ‘The Mandalay Project’ which follows the work of Canadian home-stager Rachel Gilooley and her team, to increase the rental rate of a property from $1800 to $2800 per week. Part of this was to revamp the five bedrooms and demonstrate just how to create a stunning environment on a small budget. This was one of the rooms as I saw it on my first visit with Rachel:

Bed 4a


This was better than some I’ve seen. At least the bedding was straightened and the pillows looked fairly new, but the overall look was sterile to say the least and lacked any ambience or appeal.





This same bedroom after Rachel wove some magic. The small basement window was covered in full-length curtaining; the wallpaper border removed and wall painted in a warmer colour which immediately brightened the overall look. The bedding is complemented by floor rugs which are not shown in the photo but add a lovely touch.  We also loved the Ikea tree mural on the wall behind the beds.


The Mandalay Project is nearing completion and we have already rented out 7 weeks at the new pricing.  As each stage is finished, we are sending renters updates which is adding to their excitement and anticipation of their vacation. 

The next photo is of a small (800 sq ft) cottage, where the owner has created ambient and appealing bedroom spaces with the use of good bedding and lighting.



This photo was taken just after the room had been painted in white to give an impression of more space – it’s very small! The door opens onto the electrical panel so it is not an access to another room (just in case you were wondering!)





The two small side-tables with lamps worked well to create a more attractive looking bedroom. Even though it’s still a tight squeeze to get to one side of the bed, it does feel more welcoming overall.




Marble Lake 006


To be fair, this photo was taken in a property before the owner had closed on the sale and had not been rented. However, it’s not unlike many images shown on rental listings, where little thought has been given to the impression a prospective renter may take away.





The same room after the new owner took over, put in a new bed with good quality bedding and photographed it well.




I hope this short post has inspired you to take another look at the photos you have on your listing. Do they show the bedrooms in the best possible light?  Do they look attractive and appealing?  Will they make renters want to come and stay? 

Do you have any makeover ideas I can share with my readers?  I’d love to see some more before and after shots, and will offer a short review to the first few I receive. And there’s more about staging coming soon!

Craig Douglas

Great to see someone highlight this issue. I believe that investing in professional photographs is the best investment a cottage owner can make. It costs me only £80 for a photo shoot by a free lance photographer.

Some competitors have Flat screen LCD tvs in every bedroom -yet awful self taken photos on their own website.

One point to mention -I recommend using a photographer who takes photos of houses for a living eg one that works for an estate agent -they know what features to capture to get an overall picture-I once employed a top fashion photographer and althought the photos were stylish-they did nt give the overall view required by potential guests.

Craig Douglas’s last blog post..Promoting your website for free

Dr Richard

Thanks for raising this one Heather. Making your photos look good is one of the best things you can do for your VR site. You should spend as much as you can on a high-quality digital camera, download your pictures and then review them immediately on a computer (before you leave the house!) Then you can make sure you’ve got the right framing & lighting and also make sure you haven’t got anything embarrassing in the shot!!

Dr Richard’s last blog post..9 Reasons to Design Your Own Vacation Rental Website


I like the bottom one. I have cottage in Turkey and I have designed inside nearly same. I like wood covering on the walls more than smooth plaster.


I love taking pics and took all the photos for Daisy Cottage. For the bedrooms it is certainly best to have the bedside lamps on as it creates a warm glow. After the pic is taken you really need to view it on a screen and scrutinise it with an eagle eye. It’s funny how before you take the pic you think everything is fine and then you examine it and see you’ve not noticed say the duvet twisted at the end of the bed – simple things like that.

And whilst it is good to have a pic which shows most of the room, I like close up shots to give atmosphere if you know what I mean? I did this with our master bedroom and just included in one pic the bedhead, one of the (lit) lamps, the pillows a little of the duvet and the colourful print above the bed. Not only is this atmospheric (imo), it shows the viewer that the bedding is crisp white and ironed which I suppose might only be noticed by me but I hope not.

Having looked around the net at holiday homes for the past year or two, one thing that annoys me is that people sometimes don’t smooth the bed and make sure the pillows are totally straight. I even saw one where the bed looked as if someone had just got out of it! Not enticing!


Some of those rooms are not possible!!. So small. Amazing to see the before and after effect. Too many people do not realise the power of pictures.

Property Management Courses

Great post! Photos make such a big difference!

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Thank you for article and photos!!

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Neeraj Varma

Wow! That’s quite a change! I never knew a bedroom upgrade was so important. Looking forward to your book!

cottage rentals

very good article, makes a lot of sense. The before and after photos are a real seller.

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