How to make the most of your ren­tal

In­te­rior de­sign­ers of­fer ad­vice on how you can make your hol­i­day home stand out among a crowd of on­line list­ings and dec­o­rate it so that it with­stands dam­age

Sunday Tribune - - KZN BUSINESS REPORT -

RENT­ING out a hol­i­day home, or even a spare room in your apart­ment in the city, is eas­ier than ever, thanks to sites such as Airbnb and Home­away. But mak­ing your ren­tal stand out in a crowd of on­line list­ings is an­other thing.

And even if you man­age to at­tract guests, how do you dec­o­rate a space so that it with­stands dam­age caused by even the best be­haved among them?

We asked in­te­rior de­sign­ers with ren­tal homes of their own for ad­vice.

Avoid fur­nish­ings and “per­fect lac­quered fin­ishes” that are im­pos­si­ble to main­tain, ad­vised Steven Gam­brel, a well-known Man­hat­tan de­signer who re­cently built a high-end ren­tal in Sag

Har­bor, New York, that re­sem­bles a 19th-cen­tury Fed­eral-style house.

He sug­gested in­stead “cre­at­ing a pal­ette of ma­te­ri­als that get bet­ter with age and de­velop a patina”.

At his ren­tal ev­ery­thing from the plas­ter walls to the linen bed­sheets was cho­sen for their dura­bil­ity and ten­dency to im­prove with age.

Sal­vaged an­tique pine floors were bleached and fin­ished with matte polyurethane. The kitchen was fit­ted with stone coun­ters treated with a suede fin­ish “to cre­ate age and warmth” and a “patina from the be­gin­ning”, he said. “It has a nice weath­ered edge so that in­stead of be­ing up­set about a new chip, you’re ac­tu­ally just en­hanc­ing the spirit of the house.”

Kerri Rosen­thal, founder of KR In­te­ri­ors in West­port, Con­necti­cut, said: “When de­sign­ing va­ca­tion rentals, sim­plic­ity in fur­nish­ings is the key. Keep the fur­ni­ture highly edited and the ac­ces­soris­ing to a min­i­mum.”

Use neu­trals as your foun­da­tion and then build on that with ac­cent colours, she said.

When Rosen­thal dec­o­rated a home in South­port, Con­necti­cut for a client who planned to rent it out, she used mod­ern fur­ni­ture in white, leather and wood and ac­ces­sorised with “big, happy art”, throw cush­ions and colour­ful vases and bowls.

Check out the com­pe­ti­tion, sug­gested Joe Na­hem, of the de­sign firm Fox-na­hem As­so­ciates.

“It makes sense to me, in what­ever price cat­e­gory you’re in. Look at what else is out there – com­pare. What can I do to make mine a lit­tle bet­ter?”

More than 20 years ago, Na­hem and his part­ner, Jeff Fields, bought a mod­est 1960s ranch-style ocean­front house in East Hamp­ton, New York, then tore it down and built a two-storey home with ex­pan­sive ocean views, a gym, a hot tub and a pool.

Guests have in­cluded the king and queen of Jor­dan and ac­tor Robert Downey jr and his fam­ily.

“I knew that hav­ing all be­d­rooms with en-suite bath­rooms was an im­por­tant fea­ture, that hav­ing soak­ing tubs, steam show­ers and two equal mas­ter be­d­rooms with ac­ces­si­ble out­door space was an up­graded fea­ture. Up­graded mat­tresses and rugs in ev­ery room also help for a more homey feel,” Na­hem said.

“Rooms should al­ways be func­tional for your guests,” said Cort­ney Novo­gratz, an in­te­rior de­signer known for mak­ing eye­catch­ing spa­ces (and re­al­ity shows such as HGTV’S Home by Novo­gratz).

Among those spa­ces is a fivebed­room house with a pool, hot tub and tram­po­line that the fam­ily owns in Great Bar­ring­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts and rents out on Airbnb.

Each bed­room has bed­side lamps, so­lar shades with black­out drapes and an ot­toman, chair or bench, so guests “have an easy place to throw their bag or suit­case”, Novo­gratz said.

Beds are dressed with crisp, white li­nens (as they would be in a ho­tel) and dec­o­ra­tive pil­lows that brighten the space.

“To add char­ac­ter, I like to pull from my col­lec­tion of vin­tage quilts and have one at the foot of each bed,” she said, not­ing that you could “add fun books on the side ta­ble, with fresh flow­ers for an invit­ing touch”.

Guests should have places to con­gre­gate, but they also need pri­vate spots. “Our side porch has beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral light,” said Novo­gratz, who fur­nished it with a vin­tage daybed. “It’s the per­fect place to cosy up and read a book.”

In the fam­ily room of a farm­house in North Branch, New York, owned by El­iz­a­beth Bolognino, a New York City de­signer, and her hus­band, Justin Bolognino, twin Eames chairs with ot­tomans frame a wood-burn­ing fire­place. That spot is “re­ally good for con­ver­sa­tion”, she said.

Bolognino’s house, which she rents on Airbnb, is part of a 8-hectare re­treat called Silent G Farms, and it tends to at­tract New York­ers in need of rest, she said. It make them feel pam­pered.

Bolognino fo­cuses on de­tails that a host might over­look, pro­vid­ing things such as soaps, tow­els and burlap place mats mono­grammed with her farm’s “G” logo.

At Gam­brel’s Hamp­tons ren­tal, you will find not only leather up­hol­stery and high-end bed­ding, but also ex­tra-thick, cus­tom-cut sisal car­pets. “There’s a cer­tain level of warmth it pro­vides,” he said of the sisal, not­ing that although it has to be re­placed ev­ery few years it adds char­ac­ter and el­e­vates the over­all de­sign.

The idea is that if guests have a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence with the house, “hope­fully they take bet­ter care of it”, he said. “The more you fin­ish a house, the more you com­plete the story, the more re­spect peo­ple have for it.” |

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