Photography and ListingsVacation Rental Owners

Real Estate Lifestyle Photos (Make a Great First Impression)

Make a Great First Impression by Improving Your Vacation Rental’s Curb Appeal

As often as we’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” that’s still what we tend to do when we encounter something new. From meeting someone, to traveling somewhere we’ve never been, to literally judging a book by its cover, our first impressions are important. Of course, to elevate your vacation rental’s desirability, and to give you an opportunity for excellent real estate lifestyle photos, you’ll need an exterior that knocks them off of their feet and provides a warm first impression to your potential guests. As they view your photos and virtually “walk up to the entry” of your vacation rental property, what are they seeing?

Don’t forget to make the outside of your vacation rental just as special and welcoming as the inside! Luckily, it’s pretty easy to improve your vacation rental property’s curb appeal. Many of the simple improvements we discuss below can be inexpensive do-it-yourself projects. No matter your budget, you should be able to find an idea or two that you can implement before you spend a lot of money on photography.

Focus on the entryway

When discussing curb appeal, your entryway is one of the most (if not the most) crucial places to pay attention to. The goal is to create a positive first impression with a welcoming entrance into your vacation rental. You might consider adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door, setting out a welcome mat, and hanging up a wreath. Another simple yet effective touch is updating or replacing the house numbers; this is also a great way to ensure emergency services can easily identify your house if needed.

Give the entryway a front porch feel with a couple of chairs, as well as low-maintenance pots and plants. This allows your guests to sit and relax there if they please, and it also makes your vacation rental appear more homey.

Another important part of your entryway is the hardware on the front door. Does the door open, close, and lock with ease? Is the hardware rusted or in need of replacement? Do you have a keyless lock to make self check-in possible?

Focus on the entryway

Walk up to the front door, maintaining the perspective of a guest. Does the sidewalk look weathered? What about the steps? Are there any potential tripping hazards? Taking care of these now can save you from potential legal issues in the future.

Clean up the exterior

A simple way to improve your vacation rental’s curb appeal is to clean the exterior of the house. Grime can build up on the outside of the rental, with pollen and dirt accumulating over time. A quick power wash can leave your vacation rental looking newer and cleaner.

Repaint and restain

Repainting is generally an inexpensive project compared to many other renovations, and it can completely change your vacation rental’s exterior appearance. Depending on the paint color you choose, it can even lower your air conditioning bill! (Lighter colors absorb less light, keeping the inside of the vacation rental cooler, so less AC is needed to make the house feel comfortable.) While you’re at it, consider staining the porch, painting the shutters, and repainting or even replacing the garage door for a fresh, new look.

Maintain the lawn and landscaping

Maintaining your lawn and landscaping may be a given for many people, but it’s a task that can easily be pushed off or forgotten. Have you ever considered mowing the lawn, and then shrugged it off, thinking, “It could go another week”? Well, a freshly-mown lawn with well-maintained landscaping is sure to leave a positive impression on your guests. It shows them that you care and are willing to put in the effort to keep your vacation rental looking fresh and updated.

Not sure where to start? Pull any weeds, mow the lawn, plant grass seed to cover any sparse patches, and then water and fertilize the grass if needed. Trim the bushes and take care of any plants in the front or back yard, and your vacation rental will look much more cared for and refined.

Consider installing landscape lighting

Consider installing landscape lighting

Landscape lighting or outdoor lighting can totally transform the look of your vacation rental’s exterior. One simple project is setting up lights along a pathway so that your guests can more easily navigate the property at night. You could also consider installing lights around a patio to illuminate your outdoor seating area. There are so many other creative lighting arrangements to try out as well!

One thing to keep in mind with landscape lighting is that the pools of light given off by each light source should not overlap. Another option that could potentially cut back on maintenance and upkeep is choosing solar lamps. Since they’re powered by the sun, you won’t have to replace the bulbs as time goes on.

It can be tempting to add lots of lights everywhere, but generally, less is more when it comes to landscape lighting. The more lighting you have, the more prone you are to the runway effect, which is when lights are too close together and directly across from each other. This results in a visual that’s reminiscent of an airplane runway, and it’s generally not the type of effect you want to have at your relaxing vacation rental property!

Add some low-maintenance flower boxes

Flower boxes are a quick and inexpensive upgrade to your landscaping. If your vacation rental has window boxes, simply add some flowers. Depending on your location, the type of flowers you choose might be different, but in general, you’re looking for low-maintenance flowers that don’t require too much TLC.

If your vacation rental doesn’t already have flower boxes, that’s totally fine–you can add some if you’d like. Whether you choose plastic, wood, or metal, just be sure the boxes have drainage holes. It’s also essential to leave a couple inches of space between the window box and your house for ventilation.

Pick a few potted plants

Pick a few potted plants

Potted plants are an even easier addition than flower boxes, but they can do wonders when it comes to sprucing up your curb appeal and your vacation rental’s overall exterior. You can place potted plants anywhere on the property that needs a little more visual interest. Be sure to choose plants that can easily thrive in your local climate without needing too much care and attention.

Depending on the size, potted plants can also work as a privacy barrier, or they can hide potential eyesores like an air conditioning unit or aboveground propane tank.

Create a wooden walkway

Providing clear walkways for your guests is a simple way to enhance the guest experience. While stepping stones look lovely, an easier variation is to add a wooden plank walkway. This is a budget-friendly DIY landscaping project that adds detail to your vacation rental’s exterior. You can even use your own scrap wood to make this project totally free. A wooden plank walkway is low-maintenance, too–if one plank begins to rot or has other issues, you can replace it without having to redo the entire walkway.

Replace your mulch

If you want to refresh your vacation rental’s landscaping, try replacing your mulch. There are so many different types of mulch out there, all with their own pros and cons, but they come in a range of colors and materials. Make the color of the vacation rental pop by choosing mulch in a contrasting accent color, or pick a complementary color that meshes with the house’s siding or brick. If you have bright flowers planted, then a dark shade of mulch can create an eye-catching contrast.

One tip for replacing your mulch is to avoid laying new mulch on top of your existing mulch. The current mulch has probably built up over time, and since it’s recommended to keep mulch around three inches deep, you don’t want to keep adding to it. Instead, remove most or all of your old mulch and replace it. It’s also best to refresh your mulch twice a year; you could time this to go along with your deep-cleaning schedule for your vacation rental, which should also be completed twice a year.

Main Takeaways

Want to make an amazing first impression through your lifestyle photos and wow potential vacation rental guests? Stepping up your curb appeal is a great way to do it! Below, find our best ideas for improving curb appeal, impressing your guests and booking more reservations!

  • Focus on the entryway, removing hazards and creating a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Clean up the exterior by power washing built-up dirt and grime away.
  • Repaint and restain: Put a fresh coat of paint on the exterior or stain the porch.
  • Maintain the lawn and landscaping or hire someone to take care of it for you.
  • Consider installing landscape lighting to transform the space and make it more functional for nighttime.
  • Add some low-maintenance flower boxes for instant eye-catching displays.
  • Pick a few potted plants and add them to any area that needs more visual interest.
  • Create a wooden walkway for a unique addition to your landscaping.
  • Replace your mulch to refresh the look of the space.
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