When my parents bought our first vacation home in Florida, I remember going with them to do all of the shopping. I recall spending a solid week visiting furniture stores, bath and linen stores, kitchen supply stores, and beyond. Our new condo was sold as a vacation rental property, so it came with all of the essentials, but the décor was very 1970s. (Not cool in the early ‘90s!)
That first shopping trip came with a steep learning curve. When we returned to the vacation home a couple months later, we were shocked to discover that many of our new furnishings, linens, kitchen items, and home items were damaged, stained, or stolen. We were shocked, especially considering the fact that this was considered a luxury rental. People paid more than $5,000 per week during certain times of the year. As Boston natives, we also failed to realize that certain items just wouldn't stand up to Florida's humid, salty coastal air.
Our family quickly learned that there's a certain strategy for decorating your vacation home, especially if you're on a budget. So let's take a peek at some of the best strategies to consider when decorating your vacation home in Panama City Beach, and how your Airbnb property manager can help preserve and protect your home furnishings.
Shopping for Furniture and Flooring for Your Vacation Home
Furniture and flooring see a lot of abuse in a vacation rental, so you need a solid strategy when selecting these items. Consider these tips when decorating your Panama City Beach vacation rental:
Opt for a leather or vinyl couch and loveseat whenever possible. These materials will resist most stains and are easy to clean. This type of furniture will also last much longer than any fabric-covered furniture item.
Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpeting is a magnet for stains and it just doesn't hold up to traffic, abuse, and pets. In a Panama City Beach rental, you'll also have sand to contend with and it can really get ground into carpets. Cleaning is also more challenging and any odors are going to be amplified by the hot, humid air. If you like carpeting, opt for runners and area rugs with a pattern and color that will hide dirt and stains. Runners and area rugs can be easily cleaned or replaced.
Avoid outdoor carpeting. If you have a patio area, avoid any sort of outdoor carpeting, as this will be a magnet for mildew in Florida's hot, humid climate. Outdoor carpeting is also going to be prone to damage from sand, which will sink into the carpet and degrade it over time.
Avoid hardwood or wood laminate flooring. Wood floors just don't hold up in a vacation rental, especially in Panama City Beach. Your guests will be tracking in sand, which causes micro-scratches in your hardwood floors, damaging the finish and, ultimately, the wood. Visitors will also be dragging suitcases across your floors. They have a tendency to rearrange furniture too, which leaves scratches and gouges in hardwood.
If you allow pets, an accident or a dog in need of a pedicure can damage the wood flooring. It's generally best to opt for something more durable like tile. Tile is ideal for three reasons: it's very durable, it's easy to clean, and if a tile is damaged, it's relatively simple to replace the damaged tile. Tile can actually be less expensive than other flooring options and in the long term, it's far more economical due to the ease of cleaning and longevity.
Choose durable outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture with cushions will be prone to fading in Florida's intense sun, and they're also prone to developing mold and mildew due to the humid air and frequent summer rains. This type of furniture just won't hold up in Florida's climate. Also, avoid furniture with metals that are prone to corrosion, pitting, and other degradation.
Panama City Beach is right on the shore, so you have salty, damp air that's very effective at corroding metal. This rule also applies to outdoor fixtures. Aluminum, brass, and many varieties of steel and iron are a few of the many metals that will degrade when exposed to Florida's salty coastal air. Always opt for items that are designed for outdoor use and marked “corrosion resistant” as this will help you save money in the long term since you won't need to buy replacements every few years.
Keeping these tips in mind, an Airbnb property manager who's familiar with your vacation home can be very helpful in spotting any new damage to flooring or furniture. When something’s been damaged, you can deduct from a guest's damage deposit.
Shopping for Linens for Your Panama City Beach Vacation Rental
Linens don't last long in a vacation rental. This is especially true if you have a home in Panama City Beach, where you're apt to see a fair number of college students who tend to be a bit more prone to damage, lose, or take items. So this is one area where it's best to opt for affordability over quality. Linens are frequently stained and damaged. There are guests who will use a bath towel to sop up spilled wine instead of using paper towels. Even if you provide beach towels, your large bath towels will frequently be taken to the pool or beach, where they're faded by the sun, damaged by chlorine, or lost.
Don't hesitate to take advantage of sales and opt for plain, unremarkable sheets and towels that are less likely to be coveted. If you prefer a high thread count sheet set or simply cannot sleep without bamboo sheets, it's best to keep those linens in your locked owner's closet.
This is another area where it's especially helpful to have an Airbnb property manager, who can take an inventory of items following each guest's departure. If there's a missing set of sheets, then you'll know who should be billed for that item.
Buying Kitchen Items and Appliances for Your Panama City Beach Vacation Rental
When it comes to buying kitchen items and appliances, it's typically best to opt for something that's good quality, but not top of the line, due to the high risk of theft or damage.
Kitchen items and small appliances are frequently stolen, so this is another area where you should opt for items that are good quality but unremarkable. Anything that's super trendy, very high quality, or attractive is apt to disappear in very short order.
In terms of appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers, choose items that are easy to use, as this will make them less likely to suffer damage as a result of misuse.
Decorating Your Panama City Beach Vacation Rental
Decorating your Panama City Beach rental home can be a fun project, but you must be cognizant of how much you spend on décor because these items can and will be damaged or stolen by guests. For paintings and photos, always opt for prints or reproductions. Consider writing on the wall behind paintings “MISSING PAINTING” so your property manager can easily see if a wall hanging has been stolen.
For other random decorative items, you should opt for items that are nice but not overly pricey. You can find wonderful (and affordable) decorative items online and at stores like Bealls and TJ Maxx. Whenever possible, opt for decorative items that are too large or awkward to fit inside of a suitcase, as this makes them less prone to theft.
Find an Airbnb Property Management Firm to Help
With these tips, you'll be well on your way to decorating your new Panama City Beach vacation home in a way that's economical and practical. Once you've decorated your vacation home, you can really benefit from having an experienced Airbnb property manager who can screen and vet guests and perform walkthroughs and inventories before and after each guest departs.
Of course, finding the right property manager can be a challenge, but that's where Rented.com can help. We're your source for some of the nation's top property managers, and you can choose from multiple offers, including offers that are part of our guaranteed revenue model. So you'll earn money each and every month, regardless of occupancy. Get started today by creating a free account on Rented.com.
Lead image: Flickr CC user Bart Everson