Often new vacation rental owners ask me how I balance using my own home as a second property and renting it out as a vacation rental during the times I’m not there.

While I want my home to be comfortable and suit my own personal tastes, I have to balance that with the tastes of my guests, as well as the safety of my personal items.

Your guests should feel like it’s their home for the duration of their stay. For most travelers who’ve chosen a vacation rental, this means homey, yet sparse, so they can settle in. Here’s a few tips for de-personalizing your space for others’ use, but still keeping your vacation home friendly for your own needs.

Create a cohesive theme

Give your home a cohesive theme (i.e. ski lodge, tropical), but don’t stylize it completely to your personal taste. A few key pieces you love are welcome, but might need to be put away when you have guests.

Empty drawers

Make sure you empty dresser and cabinet drawers of unnecessary items prior to guests arrival. May travelers like to unpack their personal items into the drawers to help them settle in.

Create an owner’s closet

Dedicate a closet (or even a room) that can be securely locked, and use it as the central place for all your personal items when you’re not there.

Use baskets

Use baskets for collections of items (like your toiletries) so they can be quickly returned to your owner’s closet without a lot of clean-up.  I bought a simple plastic shower caddy for all my shower items, and I leave it on the floor of the shower rather than unloading it onto the shower shelves.  This way, it takes me just a few seconds to return all the items to my owner’s closet.

Get a lockable safe

Purchase a lockable safe for your personal belongings and store it in your owner’s closet or an extra linen closet. This will keep any valuables safe and secure until you arrive again.  Then again, if anything is valuable enough to lock in a safe, you should first consider not leaving it at the property at all.

Put away personal photos

You’ve probably heard this tip before if you’ve ever put your home up for sale. Potential buyers, just like renters, like to picture themselves in the home. Seeing photos of you and your family and friends makes it feel like they’re living in someone else’s home rather than enjoying the creature comforts of a home on their own vacation.

Choose reading materials carefully

If you’ve got a library, stock it with books for a wide audience. Make sure coffee table books and magazines are also appropriate for your home. It’s usually a safe choice to go with architectural or environmental photographs of the local area.

Stock dishes that can be easily replaced

You may love having a special set for hosting dinner parties, but keep dishes and silverware for vacation rental guests that can be easily replaced if broken or misplaced.

Label anything that should not be disturbed

Any items that need to be left out, but should not be disturbed or used should be labeled appropriately for the guest. For example, if you have a wine fridge with a special bottle you want to preserve, label it accordingly. Expect anything left out for the guest will be free game for them to use.