If you are thinking of purchasing a lake home that you will use as a vacation rental during the times you will not be using the house, you will need to consider the needs of vacationers when furnishing your home. Not only will your decor choices be different, your replacement schedule will likely be much shorter as items tend to wear out faster in rental properties. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your purchases.

Easy to Clean

Furniture, paint, countertops, rugs, everything in your home should be easy to clean! Your cleaning service will need to be able to clean everything quickly between renters, so this is not the time to invest in hard to clean fabrics, flat paint, or easily stained carpets. Machine washable bedding is a must and forgiving couches should be on your list. Don’t forget to take into consideration sand and water since you are dealing with a lake home! This could affect your flooring choices more than other destination homes.


We often put off buying new things like mattresses in our own home or replacing squeaky bed frames, but in a vacation rental uncomfortable beds and sagging couch cushions can bring poor online reviews which will affect your bottom line. Spend time sitting on your furniture and at least a night in each bed to make sure they are comfortable. If they don’t live up to at least hotel standards, replace them right away.

Match Decor to Your Rental Rates and Location

No matter your price range, you will need nice furnishings, but if you are tapping into the luxury market you will need to match your guests increased expectations. Guests also enjoy furnishings that relate to the surroundings. For instance, a beach house will typically have different furnishings than a home located in a ski area. You don’t need to take the theme too far, but helping guests experience the full relaxed vacation feeling will go a long way in your reviews.


This may seem silly, but make sure all doors open easily, locks are working, TV remotes or pool heaters are easy to understand and operate. There is nothing worse than being handed a key that doesn’t work when you return at 11pm to your rental, or when the owner forgets to mention the outer door code and you can’t get into the building later. TV remotes, clocks, etc are all different so including a user guide can be helpful when guests encounter problems.


Your kitchen and dining space will be important as guests want to cook for their families as one of the benefits of staying in a home rather than a hotel. A clean, organized kitchen is often the key to positive reviews. Be aware of storage and counter space and try to maximize these while providing the essentials. A microwave and coffee maker are musts, and dinnerware for twice the number of guests. Matching dinnerware that can be replaced piece by piece as needed, wine glasses and openers, and children’s cups and silverware are always an appreciated find in a vacation rental.

Cookware should be quality and dishwasher safe! Don’t forget serving ware and utensils, as well as cleaning products. Guests will not remember things like trash bags and sponges, plastic wrap or ziplock bags. Think about also including basic cooking staples like spices and olive oil. Daily items we take for granted in our everyday life in the kitchen will be appreciated by your guests!


Bathrooms are where you will likely be judged most harshly by your guests, so make sure it is clean and updated frequently including paint, fixtures and lighting. Small backup toiletries are a nice touch in case a guest forgets something, but above all make sure you have excellent bath linens! A hair dryer, iron, plunger and bath mats should be included as well.

Living Room

The living room is often the hardest place to decorate for someone that plans to use their home while allowing others to rent it. You will want to avoid family photos and protect or remove any heirlooms. Use neutral furniture as your base and then accent the space with throw pillows, artwork, window treatments and rugs to add color and style. These can be changed out easily and inexpensively. Make sure you have enough seating for the number of guests you will likely have, as well as entertainment options. Electronic options should be provided including a TV, DCD player and a small selection of books and movies, but don’t forget board games for a break as well.


There are few places your guests will expect more luxury no matter your price point! Invest in good linens, waterproof mattress protectors, and proper bed sizes for the room. Make sure you have extra sheet sets and blankets for each room for guest usage, throw blankets, and two pillows per guest. These hypoallergenic cotton-polyester blend sheets are wonderful, but consider flannel sheets if your rental will be popular in winter! Make sure you have dresser and closet storage with hangars as well. Don’t forget about proper bedside lighting, clocks, full length mirror and a TV in at least the master bedroom.

Kid Items

If you are buying a lake home in a destination where you expect a lot of children as guests, consider have a high chair, play pen or crib and other small kid items.

Destination Items

Since you are thinking about a lake home, many of your guests will have lake activities in mind, so make sure you include large beach towels, and think about extras like life jackets, snorkeling masks, pool toys, and maybe even kayaks for guest usage.

You can still make your lake house your own, decorate to your tastes, and have personal items around the home. Just make sure to tone things down if your tastes tend to run wild or you like to accept every donated item you can find. Your home needs to feel relaxed but put together to attract guests.