Often new vacation rental owners ask how they can balance using their own home as a second property and renting it out as a vacation rental during the times they aren't there.


While you want your home to be comfortable and suit your own personal tastes, you have to balance that with the tastes of your guests, your guests' comfort and the safety of your 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 the use of others, while 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. Many travelers like to unpack their personal items into the drawers to help them settle in, especially if they are there for five or more days.

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. For example, buy a simple plastic shower caddy for your shower items and leave it on the floor of the shower rather than unloading it onto the shower shelves.

This way, it takes just a few seconds to return all the items to your 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 consider not leaving it at the property in the first place.

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 house rather than enjoying the comforts of their own - albeit temporary - home on 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.