How to stage a vacation rental

Vacation rental staging tips for your Airbnb or Vrbo
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Take it from us: looks do matter. Especially when it comes to prepping your vacation home for photos. After all, no matter how expensive the camera or skilled the photographer, if your home isn’t thoughtfully staged beforehand, your photos can look underwhelming. Before whipping out the camera, set the scene to appeal to the widest range of potential guests.

Alicia Lafon, a Revenue & Marketing Specialist at Vacasa and former member of our home onboarding team, has prepped dozens of our homes for successful high-quality photo shoots. She offers these 10 short-term rental staging tips to both boost revenue and make your Airbnb or Vrbo photo-ready.

two story vacation home with covered patio in garden city, utah

1. Spruce up outdoors

At Vacasa, we always shoot exterior images for our vacation homes. These give guests a sense of the environment and the outdoor spaces. Alicia recommends hiring a professional landscaper to trim greenery and create a manicured, welcoming scene. Another suggestion: use a pressure washer to clean up any dirt or noticeable grime from your roof and siding.

2. Use natural light

The best way to brighten a room is with natural light. So, throw open the curtains to illuminate your photos. This also allows you to show off the surrounding scenery. If your home has slat blinds, Alicia advises to leave them down, but open the slats so they are flat and parallel to the floor. This makes them less visible on camera, she explains. Not enough natural light? Turn on overhead lights and lamps.

a wall of waterfront windows brings in plenty of natural light highlighting the beautiful interior of this Tennessee home

3. Remove personal items

Vacation rental owners should hide any personal items, such as family photos, framed diplomas, or mementos (not every guest will appreciate a collection of angel figurines or rubber ducks). Instead, replace them with artwork or decor that have universal appeal. “Guests want to feel like this is their private getaway, not a visit to someone else’s home,” Alicia explains.

4. Rearrange furniture

One common design faux pas—pushing furniture against the walls to make the room feel larger. Instead, open up the room by “floating” your furniture away from the walls. Place sofas and chairs in cozy groups (think about your guests gathering over drinks or a board game). Also, consider removing larger furniture pieces that block guests from seeing some of your home’s best features, like your windows or fireplace.

5. Declutter the space

Take a cue from hotels—keep surfaces clear and clutter-free, Alicia advises. Everything in a hotel is placed intentionally, with an aim to create a relaxing, calm space free from unnecessary stuff.

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6. Turn off TVs

“Screens can look blurry and be a distraction in photos,” Alicia says. Don’t use screensavers, either.

7. Pay attention to unsightly details

Alicia suggests hiding any messy cables, such as phone cords or TV wires. “If they’re too long to hide, remove them for the photo shoot and reattach afterward.” Another noticeable vacation home staging detail—the seams on your lampshades. Turn them toward the wall, so the camera just captures a smooth surface, she recommends. Don’t forget to straighten any tilted lampshades, too.

8. Give your bathroom spa vibes

Hang towels neatly on a rack, straighten the bath mat, tuck away any trash bins and plungers, and close the toilet lid, Alicia recommends. For glass showers, leave the door closed. Or, if you have a shower curtain, push it all the way to the side so the shower head is visible.

a vase of red flowers really pops in this sleek white bathroom

9. Create a serene bedroom experience

The focal point is the bed, so make the bed beforehand, tuck sheets in, and smooth out any wrinkles. For the finishing touches, Alicia advises to:

  • Remove extra items from nightstands.
  • Hide trash cans.
  • Pull back any curtains to show the view out the windows.
  • Fluff the pillows and make sure to sit them upright, rather than laying them flat on the bed.

10. Hire a professional house cleaner

Above all, make sure your home is shiny and spotless for every photo. Before every photo shoot, our Vacasa team has each vacation home professionally cleaned and staged.




Want even more help marketing your vacation home and standing out from the rest? Let’s chat about all the ways to get your home more visibility.

cozy yet modern style inside a california vacation home

Short-term rental staging FAQ

Our Vacasa interior designers offer these tips:

  • First consider who is likely to book your home and what ambience you’d like to create. For instance, are you decorating a cozy cabin or a modern, high-end lake house?
  • Invest in materials with good durability, like solid wood or performance fabrics.
  • Stay away from items that are too tedious to clean after every stay, such as high-pile rugs.
  • Spend more on high-touch furniture, such as beds and dinner tables. Then save on items like TV stands.

More ways to furnish your vacation home like an interior designer >

While smartphones have certainly made it easy to take high-quality photos, it takes more than a great camera to create images that drive bookings. The best vacation rental images require logistics. This includes shooting flattering angles, using the right exposure, balancing light and shadows, capturing the most appealing composition, and perfecting details in post-production. Your vacation home images are too important not to hire a professional photographer. That’s why we work only with local professional photographers to create all our homes’ imagery.

Take a cue from our expert vacation rental photographers. Some tips to consider:

  • Shoot naturally, without any filters or special lenses to make your space look better than it actually does.
  • Show the flow from one room to another.
  • Have a balanced composition, showing one-third floor, one-third middle, and one-third ceiling.
  • Ditch the flash. They can create harsh highlights or weird shadows.
  • Showcase gorgeous views and parts of the home in the same image. For instance, shoot your outdoor deck and the view together.
  • If you’re using your smartphone, don’t zoom in. Photos can appear pixelated and fuzzy.
  • Shoot more than you think you’ll need, and pare down your selections later.

How to take home photos that boost views and bookings >

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Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 947-800-5979; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Susan Scanlon, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC, P.O. Box 283, Conway NH 03818, Dave Grant, Broker of Record; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan E. Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacasa Real Estate Corporation, California DRE #02105811, Joseph Czapkowicz, California DRE #01380722; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Joseph Czapkowicz, California DRE #01380722; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Colorado, Daned Kirkham); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Idaho, Oregon, and Utah); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Tennessee, 615-671-9916); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Daned Kirkham, California DRE #01424621; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 3350 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Suite 600, Lahaina, HI 96761; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Patrice Tompkins, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.