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Deciding how to furnish a holiday let is one of the first essential steps in a holiday letting journey. Whether you are starting the process from scratch or you’re thinking of renovating your existing property, selecting the right furnishings determines the look and feel of a property – a key factor that will influence guests when booking their holiday.
It goes without saying that creating a stylish, inviting, yet functional and relaxing interior that feels like a ‘home away from home’ for guests is vitally important. We’ve compiled a few simple tips that will help you with furnishing your holiday home’s interior and turn it into a stylish, comfortable and desirable oasis for guests.
Use the quick links below to read about a particular topic, or continue reading for our top tips on how to furnish a holiday let.
It’s often difficult to know where to begin when deciding how to furnish a holiday let. The décor and furnishings you choose form a key element of every space within your holiday home, and there is a fine balance between having an interior that not only looks great in photos, but will cater to your guests’ needs and comfort.
Prior to choosing furnishings and decorating your holiday let, it’s always a good idea to plan the space and understand how each room will be used. The process of analysing the interior of your cottage, will make it easier to find the perfect size and type of furniture you need, so you can guarantee the best use of available space. Planning the layout will also give insight into other elements of your interior like lighting positions, ergonomic flow and other factors that you may need to consider ahead of any furniture choices.
First impressions count and are lasting, so the overall design and style of your holiday let is a key selling point for guests – it pays to get the look and feel right. Stick to keeping your décor simple with fresh, light and neutral colours as these have a wider appeal.
Consider using the location of your holiday property as your design inspiration. Seaside homes with nautical themes including cool blues and greys are always a popular choice. However, it can be easy to go overboard with a coastal theme, so be careful not to go too cliché and stick to more contemporary styles – less is more.
Similarly, a country cottage that embraces its beautiful surroundings with vintage ware and antique furnishings often works well.
Read our blog on top 10 Devon brands for styling your holiday home for ideas on including locally sourced pieces to add a personal touch to your property. Having the help from the experts at this stage is also a good idea, so why not take a read of our Q&A with interior designer, Rebecca Watson.
Once you have an interior design style set out for your property, understanding how your holiday home will be used and who will be staying will reveal what furnishings will best suit the needs of your guests.
If you want to attract families with young children, rather than having a stylish coffee table with sharp edges adorned with fragile ornaments, consider avoiding these items and opting for ‘kid-proof’ furnishings like a robust dining table that can be easily cleaned and furniture that will not topple over. Including extras like stair gates and highchairs will show your holiday let is geared to welcoming parents with tots.
For more top tips, read our blog on creating a child friendly holiday home.
Accommodating guests with dogs maximises your property’s booking potential. However, if you welcome pets, furnishing your home with expensive carpets may not be the best choice. Instead opt for solid floors that are resilient and hard-wearing, and that won’t scratch or spoil easily. If you do have carpets, consider using a stain treatment, or rugs which can be removed and cleaned.
Take a read of our blog titled ‘should I make my holiday home dog-friendly’, for the positives and negatives on accepting pets, so you can make the right decision to suit your requirements.
If your property is a romantic cottage for two, providing elegant, luxury furnishings for special occasions will go a long way.
Using upholstered chairs instead of hard-backed styles in a dining room will add a more romantic and warmer look and feel. In the lounge, why not consider accent pieces such as plush upholstered sofas or a ‘snuggle chair’ to add a touch of cosiness.
It’s not just about what furnishings you use however, it’s about how you position them too. For example, if your property boasts a wood-burning stove or striking view, centre your furnishings around these idyllic features.
When guests book a luxury holiday home, they expect the property to be furnished accordingly, with real attention to detail.
Stylish curtains, soft carpets, beautiful rugs and throws are a great way to help to build up a luxurious atmosphere within each room. Extra plush towels and sumptuous high quality bed linen are an easy way to make your guests feel like they are in a five-star accommodation.
A cinema room, sauna and hot tub are other luxurious additions to consider if you have the space. Having these high-end extras will give those staying in your holiday home the opportunity to unwind, relax and relish that extra bit of opulence they deserve, and can also add out-of-season booking appeal.
Coastal properties will always be a firm favourite with guests who want to explore beautiful beaches and coastal trails, so remember to furnish your holiday let with this in mind. With sandy feet and mucky paws inevitable, furniture with hard surfaces and solid flooring that can be wiped down are a must. From welly boot and wetsuit storage to sturdy door mats, and even outdoor showers, there’s lots of ways you can prevent sand being spread over your property, depending on your budget.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that unless materials like steel and wrought iron are regularly maintained, they tend to rust. So, stick to furniture and décor that’s suited to survive sea, salt and sand.
Once you understand what style you are after, who your guests will be and how your property will be used, there are few other important things to review when you choose the furnishings for your property.
Your guests’ comfort is key to the success of your holiday letting venture, so one of the most important considerations when furnishing your second home is to make sure it’s truly a relaxing and inviting oasis!
Every day, high use items must be comfortable: For any functional, high use furnishings including sofas, beds and chairs, comfort should always be a top priority. After a busy day at the beach or long walk in the countryside, guests should look forward to coming back to a holiday home where they can sit back, relax, and unwind.
Consider a bit of ‘Hygge’: Hygge is a Danish term that has recently gained in popularity here in the UK – it refers to comforting feelings of cosiness and warmth in simple things. Adorning your interior with plush soft furnishings, soft blankets and cushions can go a long way to make a space more peaceful and inviting.
Keep is simple and remove clutter: A relatively easy method of making your holiday home more desirable is to eliminate clutter. Guests want a clear, tidy, neat space which is conducive to creating a sense of calm.
Creature comforts away from home: When on holiday, guests expect the same creature comforts that they would have in their own home… and more. Extra touches like a deep luxurious bath, a large shower head with good water flow, a log burner, or even soft lighting from dimmer switches, can all make a good impression on guests, encouraging repeat bookings. Be sure not to forget the ‘creature’s’ comforts too…. a nice cosy dog bed, a few chew toys and even a dog pen where Fido can feel safe and relax.
A holiday home will naturally see many different guests throughout a season, so it is worth thinking about the longevity of your décor and furnishings. View items of furniture as an investment – sometimes spending a little more money on good quality, hard-wearing pieces will ensure they look better for longer and won’t need replacing as often.
You want guests to enjoy their visit and not have to worry about getting things grubby. So, thinking practically and providing items that are easily removed or cleaned are always a good bet. It’s also worth being practical about your furniture too – if your holiday let caters to large groups or children, perhaps opt for glasses and crockery that aren’t too expensive or difficult to replace.
The first area of your home that welcomes guests and sees them off on their daily adventures should be functional, have space to manoeuvre and have sufficient storage for coats, boots and other extras. A practical, defined entrance area and hallway will defend the rest of your property’s interior from the spread of wet, muddy or sandy shoes and paws.
Flooring and barrier mats: Your entrance flooring should be welcoming and beautiful to make a great first impression. But with the constant flow of people coming in and out, often with dirty and wet shoes, a hard-wearing, easy to clean floor is essential. Using a heavy-duty entrance or barrier mat will help keep most of the dirt from being walked through the hallway into the rest of the property.
Coat hooks/rack: Provide plenty of pegs or wall-mounted hooks for coats and scarves, which will help keep clutter off the floor.
Shoe rack/storage: A neat, compact solution for guests to kick off shoes and boots at the front door will keep the area looking neat and tidy, as well as encouraging guests to take their shoes off before coming indoors. A large basket, a shoe rack or welly tree are just some options.
A living room is one of the main common areas in any home – a place to relax, unwind while reading a book, watch TV or spend time with friends and family. So, your property’s living room needs to be a top priority when furnishing your holiday let.
Good quality sofa: The first and most important part of furnishing a living room is the sofa. As the largest piece of furniture in the room and the one that will see the most use, it is paramount to choose the right piece. Together with comfort, start by thinking about the size and shape of your room, how many people you need to seat and where in the room the sofa will go. Consider removable, washable covers for sofas and armchairs, to making cleaning and maintenance easier.
Coffee table: After seating, the coffee table is another central piece of furniture for your holiday let’s living area, providing a great place to put drinks and store TV remotes, books and magazines. Sometimes your living room may not have the right layout for a coffee table but having side tables conveniently close to any seating will work just as well. It’s worth making sure your table is easy to clean and that you provide coasters to prevent glass stains.
Soft furnishings: Soft furnishings are a quick and easy way of adding personality to a living room, and can instantly change the look and feel of this communal area. Swapping curtains, cushions, rugs and throws for a new colour will transform a living room in an instant for relatively little expense and effort. But be practical – steer away from materials that can’t be washed, or that might stain.
TVs: Today, having a smart TV in a holiday property is a necessity. In the age of Netflix, Amazon and catch-up TV, who wants to miss out on the latest show everyone is talking about? Providing the facility for guests to log in to their own accounts or having an HDMI socket or firestick means that costly extras like satellite channels are no longer a must.
Much like the kitchen, the dining area is where guests enjoy delicious meals and spend quality time together. Whether you have a dedicated dining room or open plan kitchen/diner, furnishing a dining area for guests should make them feel at home, comfortable and be a place where they want to spend time together.
Dining table: A dining table is the centrepiece to the room and will see plenty of use over time – it’s where guests will eat, socialise and play games. Having the right fit and style for the room is essential, but most importantly it needs to cater for the number of guests your property hosts, and be suitably sturdy.
Chairs: Dining chairs can totally transform your dining area and are key to creating a comfortable and inviting environment for guests. There are plenty of different options of dining chairs, in a variety of styles and prices to suit all needs, but the optimal choice should always focus on quality and comfort. Having additional cushions are a way to not only provide extra comfort, but a feature accent.
The kitchen is referred to as the ‘heart of a home’ and is often the busiest room in a holiday let, so furnishings and equipment must be functional and welcoming for guests, creating an enjoyable space to cook meals, make snacks and spend time together.
Cabinets and worksurfaces: These items form the structure of your kitchen. The focus should be on having good quality cabinets and worksurfaces that will withstand the test of time. Kitchens can be expensive to renovate and furnish but if you’re savvy you could save a fortune. If the cabinets are in good condition, then why not consider simply revamping them with new doors or re-painting them?
Cooker: Whether it’s gas, electric or induction, your cooker is one of the most important and frequently used components of a holiday cottage kitchen. Whichever you choose, you need something that will last without needing major repairs over time and will provide a safe, efficient cooking performance for guests.
Fridge/freezer: Another essential in the kitchen, the choice of which is often down to the size and space you will have available. If you are limited for space, a fridge with a small icebox will most likely work best, but larger properties catering for more guests will benefit from a larger fridge and separate freezer. Having a fridge with a water dispenser and ice maker will always be a welcomed luxurious extra for guests.
Kitchen flooring: In a high-traffic area like the kitchen using ‘luxury vinyl tile’ (LVT), tiles or slate is advisable. Avoid using lino or flooring that will wear easily. Adding washable mats and rugs allows you to add a bit of warmth and texture to the flooring.
Microwave and dishwashers: Arguably these two items are now classed as essentials in any holiday property. After all, guests naturally expect the same luxuries as they would have in their own home. Both items can be standalone or can be incorporated into the design of the kitchen.
Washing machine and dryer: These items are standard in any home and will be a welcome addition to any holiday let. Having the facilities to wash and dry muddy gear or sandy towels will mean guests don’t have to pack as much clothing and not have to worry about what to do when they run out of things to wear!
Not to forget that additions like washing machines, microwaves, dishwashers and tumble dryers are all really important features to consider furnishing your holiday let if you intend to make it a child friendly holiday home.
Every bedroom in your holiday let should be a refuge from the world, a place where guests can retreat to in the evening and wake up rejuvenated in the morning.
Beds and mattresses: Comfortable beds with high quality mattresses is one of the most important factors in ensuring a good guest experience. Beds in your holiday property are the single most important investment when it comes to your guests’ comfort, and whilst mattresses are very subjective, generally a medium-to-firm mattress is preferable, on a sturdy, quality bed base. Using a good mattress protector and topper that can be easily laundered or replaced will protect your investment and make it easy to keep clean and fresh.
The size of bed you have will naturally depend on the available space in the property. However, where possible, a larger size bed will allow the opportunity for guests to stretch out in comfort. You can also make your accommodation more flexible and versatile by installing zip-and-link beds, giving guests the option of two single beds or one super king-size bed, depending on their needs.
Another great option for guest bedrooms is bunk beds, particularly for children. They are a great option to offer additional sleeping space, especially in smaller rooms where otherwise you may have only fitted one single bed.
To really maximise space, consider a day bed or sofa bed which can double up as seating during the day but then offer further occasional sleeping space during the evening. There are many options and styles available, so you are sure to find something which fits the look of your property.
High quality bed linen: Having crisp, good quality bed linen makes the world of difference. High thread count, pure cotton bed linen is the ideal choice for your holiday let and an easy way to add a touch of five-star luxury. Neutral colours look great and can be accented with complementing colours to match your room theme. An added benefit of single colour bedding is that you can replace individual items if some items require updating.
At Coast & Country Cottages, we offer the unique service of having an in-house luxury linen hire and laundry service, which means you are guaranteed high-quality bed linen that it is of an excellent standard and updated regularly, eliminating any quality concerns. Using our Travel Lite service also avoids the initial cost of suppling multiple sets of bedding and towels.
Bedding and pillows: Guests want to wake up every morning, refreshed and ready for their holiday, so to add to a superior sleep experience, soft comfortable pillows and duvet are an essential. During colder months, you might want to provide extra blankets that guests can help themselves to. Using mattress, duvet and pillow protectors will keep your bedding cleaner and even last longer.
Bedside table and lamp: Include a bedside table on either side of the bed to store mobile phones, books and glass of water. Add a bit of illumination for reading or create a bit of ambience by including a table lamp, which can be turned on when overhead lighting is off.
Cupboards and drawers: Ensure guests have enough space to unpack and store clothing, rather than having to live out of a suitcase. Provide cupboards with hanging space and shelves, or a chest of drawers to keep the bedroom neat and tidy. Storage is often at a premium in a holiday let, so things like clever under bed storage or additional hanging space with pegs on the wall or a hook behind a door help guests to settle in and feel at home.
Bathrooms are usually where guests will prepare for the day or get ready for bed and can also be a quiet place of relaxation. Considering that it’s a room where everyone will spend a fair amount of time, it’s important to think carefully about how the room is furnished and equipped! Most importantly, as far as the property allows, it’s also advisable to plan for a healthy ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms.
Shower and bath: The size of your bathroom will naturally affect the type of furniture you can purchase. Having a good, standalone shower, with decent water flow is generally what most guests will prefer. Having a bath is great, but where there’s a lack of space, opting for a shower will cater to the need of most guests.
Mirror: No bathroom would be complete without a mirror. It serves multiple purposes beyond helping guests look their best – it can also play a big part in making the bathroom instantly feel spacious. As an extra touch, try putting a little hand mirror on the shelf for easy access and touch ups, or secure a retractable vanity mirror to the wall.
Storage: It’s important to include various solutions for guests to store toiletries. The addition of a mirrored wall cabinet or shelving options for guests to use will prevent the bathroom from becoming cluttered.
If your holiday home has a garden or outdoor area, it’s as important to furnish it in the same way as you would in any other room of the house. Having a well-equipped and comfortable outdoor space will make your property feel extra special for guests to enjoy.
For more resourceful tips and an in depth look at how to furnish your outdoor area, read our blog on how to optimise your holiday home’s outdoor living space.
Deciding on how to furnish your holiday let isn’t the easiest of tasks and may seem a little daunting. So why not rely on the experience and expertise of a local interiors company who will be able to properly advise you. Many local interior design companies will be able to provide a recommended inventory and offer a fully co-ordinated service. Our trusted partners across the South West are:
Ron Campion Interiors – Brixham
Susie Watson Designs – Salcombe
Moyseys Interiors – Kingsbridge
Dupere Design – Modbury
Relish – Start Bay
Furnishing your holiday let in a way that makes guests feel at home, and going the extra mile to make their stay enjoyable is key to your letting success.
Whether you are considering letting your holiday home or you already have a holiday letting business, the following owner guides may be useful to you:
To find out more about holiday letting with Coast & Country Cottages, request your FREE owners guide today or call our team of holiday letting experts.