Make Your Airbnb Stand Out with These Design Dos and Don’ts

Design is key to operating a successful Airbnb that garners great reviews and appears in search results.

Get Interior Design Inspiration for Your Airbnb with these Quick, Actionable Tips 

By: Brad Greiner, CEO of Open Air Homes and OpenAiRE Brokerage

November 15, 2022

Over the last two years, the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic has revolutionized how we live and work. Many professionals have embraced remote work and are leveraging their newfound flexibility to fit their desired lifestyle. The “digital nomad” movement, or traveling to various destinations while working remotely full-time, has taken off in recent years with an estimated 35 million digital nomads worldwide. This means vacation rentals and Airbnb listings are popping up nearly everywhere, creating a digital age gold rush for short-term rentals. Airbnb design is a key element to making your short-term rental stand out among the crowd.

Attracting Guests to Your Airbnb With Design

As a natural result of the WFH boom, the Airbnb and short-term rental sector is more competitive and saturated than ever. Hosts everywhere are looking for ways to make their property shine on Airbnb, VRBO, and other platforms. 

Let’s face it: if hosts don’t have an unbeatable location or enviable views to offer guests, they’ll have to lean on strong design to attract renters and fully book a vacation rental property.

Designing an Airbnb can be tricky. Your first instinct may be to design a vacation rental like you would a typical home. However, pinpointing your ideal demographic, stepping into their shoes, and prioritizing their needs is essential to a well-designed Airbnb. 

Open Air Homes partners with renowned interior design firm Interior Particulier to create a beautiful and unique story for every one of our short-term rentals. Read on for their best tips to achieve a functional, beautifully-designed Airbnb that attracts endless bookings and 5-star reviews.

Do’s and Don’t of Airbnb Design 

Do: Spruce up your front door area and entryway.

First impressions are paramount in Airbnbs. Proper landscaping and maintenance of the entry area reveal a great deal about your short-term rental and whether it’s well cared for. Painting your front door a vibrant and welcoming color is a relatively inexpensive way to create a lasting impression and wow guests before they enter the home. Outdoor furniture can also be used to immediately establish ambiance as renters approach the property. 

Don’t: Feature too many photos of the surrounding area.

Your listings shouldn’t be filled with area photos, even if it is in a breathtaking location. Focusing too much on the surrounding area could come off as a ruse to mask the shortcomings of the Airbnb. Instead, post one or two pictures featuring the surrounding areas if you must, and prominently feature your Airbnb and its amenities in the rest. Remember, you are trying to sell the idea of the property, not the town.

Learn how to hack the Airbnb algorithm with an engaging cover photo.

Do: Design for comfort.

While designing your vacation rental property, it’s necessary to nail down your target market. “Work-cationers” will appreciate a dedicated workspace and reliable wifi. Maybe put away fine china and delicate vases if you’re gearing your Airbnb toward families with young kids and pets. Quality of furniture is also key. Vacations are about relaxation first and foremost. Comfortable bedding and seating will help guests unwind and decrease the possibility of negative feedback (and back pain!).

Don’t: Leave chores for your guests.

As your guests have come to relax, a request for them to feed your cat or water your plants won’t be taken to too kindly. Anything that requires regular upkeep should be incorporated into housekeeping and vendor duties, or otherwise removed from the property.

Do: Incorporate complimentary items that evoke emotion.

Creating a comfortable and welcoming space will ensure that your Airbnb offers a memorable experience. Providing guests with thoughtful, personalized keepsakes is a great way to leave a lasting impression and all but guarantee a great review. Coffee mugs, a deck of cards, or a charming local knickknack are great ways to show guests that you care. 

Learn more about how to personalize gifts for guests.

Don’t: Leave personal items in the home.

Remove all personal items like family photos, clothing, or other items guests can trace back to you before listing your home on Airbnb. They can make guests feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in your home, lowering the overall quality of their experience.

Do: Add local flavor to your home.

A lot of guests like to explore towns. It’s likely the reason they booked your Airbnb in the first place! Help them out by incorporating unique items that speak to the culture and personality of the area your home is in. Ceramics from local artisans, bedding from a small business in town, or a bottle of wine from a nearby vineyard could do the trick. If your Airbnb provides meal services, you can also take the opportunity to impress them with local cuisine.

Do: Enhance the space with flowers and greenery.

Plants have a way of elevating aesthetics and breathing life into any room. They give personality to an otherwise drab space and make for dreamy photos for guests to snap and share! This may sound obvious, but plants are living things and require care. Hosts can schedule their cleaning team to water plants after every checkout and before check-in. This ensures that they continue to thrive. If maintaining plants isn’t conducive to your home, consider faux greenery instead. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Do: Embrace a theme.

The demand for unique properties is very high and seems to increase daily. A well-thought-out theme with a cohesive flow helps any Airbnb stand out among the millions of listings on the platform. One way to incorporate themes is by using popular location references. If you own a coastal property, surfing or sailing themes could be great for attracting visitors. Simple elements like wallpaper, carvings, and sculptures can help bring these themes to life. 

Don’t: Overdo the theme.

An effortless look is key to cool. Covering every wall with mermaid wallpaper is a bit much and may appear more cuckoo. Stay on the safe side by subtly evoking your theme and trusting visitors to understand your intent. Strategically-placed sculptures and carvings will gently nudge guests into connecting the dots over time. 

Do: Create thoughtful design moments.

Embrace the small spaces in your home by turning them into thoughtful design spaces. For example, an empty corner in the living room can transform into a reading nook. Unused kitchen space can accommodate a coffee bar, complete with an espresso machine, stunning ceramics, and local beans. No matter how subtle you may think a design choice is, attention to detail goes a long way and creates a lasting impression.  

These are the Best Coffee Options for Your Short-Term Rental.

Don’t: Feature amenities that are not in use.

Only display amenities that are in good working condition that you intend to share with your guests. If your listing mentions amenities that are broken, inoperative, or missing parts, you’ll be dealing with a lot of disappointed guests. Disappointed guests leave bad reviews.

Do: Accentuate natural light in your Airbnb.

Natural light can make any space appear larger and more beautiful. Be sure to keep curtains drawn in listing photos and before any check-ins. 

Don’t: Be afraid to take a design risk.

There’s a reason Airbnb introduced Design categories—staying in a thoughtfully-designed home is a reason enough for potential guests to book. So be bold if that’s your style and let guests relish in your distinct taste. A unique piece of furniture or home feature could be the very thing that draws people to your rental property.

Thoughtful Design: This architectural masterpiece offers Venice Beach at its finest.

Do: Invest in excellent Airbnb lighting.

Expertly-placed lighting can transform a space and leave a lasting impression. Getting creative and mixing up lighting options can help give your space ambiance and a stylish, modern look. Sconces, chandeliers, and unique dual-purpose lighting fixtures like planters and mirrors with lights add a fun touch to homes. Practical lighting is also necessary. Bedside lamps and easy-to-find switches and dimmers will prevent annoyance and negative reviews.

Don’t: Feature outlets and cords in photos.

Cords can be very unpleasant to see, especially when shown in listing photos. Additionally, exposed cords create trip hazards and potential fire hazards. Safety is a crucial aspect of hosting and should be taken seriously. Tuck them away or buy a cord cover so your guests won’t stress about dodging cords their entire stay.

Do: Hire a professional photographer to show off your listing at its best.

Hire a professional to capture the essence of your property from all the right angles for your listing photos. Photographs are your only opportunity to showcase your property in its best light, so go big or go home! According to Airbnb, listings with great photos get more views and appear higher in search results

Check out these 7 tips to vet, hire, and direct a photographer for the perfect shots of your Airbnb.

Looking to ignite your Airbnb with thoughtful design? Contact Open Air Homes. 

Open Air Homes is a boutique property management company in Southern California. We’ve managed vacation rentals since 2012 and have used thoughtful design to set up countless luxury homes for success.

From our expert photographers to reliable vendors to our masterful interior design team, we go to great lengths to ensure every one of our homes is a top-notch vacation rental property.

Click here for a 30-second estimate of your investment rental property’s earning potential. From there, start your journey to a beautifully-designed home that attracts bookings and 5-star reviews.



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