How to Price Your Vacation Rental

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Vacation Rentals are similar to boutique hotels in the sense that there are tiers of price ranges. Most hotels fall within a 5 tier category. Imagine Motel 6 being at the bottom, Best Western, Hilton, and Marriott falling in the middle, and the W Hotel landing at the top. As you can imagine not only will the price of the Motel 6 location be far cheaper than that of the W Hotel, it will also be furnished with items you would associate with this level of expense. For instance, you wouldn’t walk into a Motel 6 room and expect to see luxury linens, soft towels, quality fabrics, and crystal chandeliers. However if you were to walk into a W Hotel room and you opened the door to a run-down mattress, rough towels, low lighting, and a chair with a broken arm, you might be furious because the cost doesn’t match the quality.

These same principles apply to vacation rentals. Whatever price you have chosen to list your property at, it will need to match the expectation associated with that price tag for your guests. If your property is in an area with several ‘Motel 6 quality’ rentals around you, then you could opt for cheaper furnishings to match your competition. However if your rental is in an area where other rentals are ‘W Hotel’ quality, you will need to match this as well if you want to keep up with the competition and not be priced out of the market. After all, who wants to pay $300 a night for a $60 a night quality? This is where a lot of home owners mis-step when turning their properties into vacation rentals. How do you know what quality looks like? Hire a professional- like me! After all, this was supposed to be a passive venture for you, you don’t need to stress over whether your sofa is ‘W Hotel quality’ or ‘Motel 6’, that’s my job! I know this industry inside and out, I can go into detail about what makes one piece of furniture worth it’s price tag in value, but all you want is passive income, right? Unless of course, you really do want to know these details, which I am happy to share with any client as well, but you most likely won’t have time to do all this research and order the furniture before your first booking (hopefully!). So all you really need to remember is that there are different tiers of price tags associated with each rental and the area it is located in. Leave the rest of the work to the professionals who will bring a higher value to your rental and make you more money in the long run!


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Why quality furniture takes (so long!) 8+ weeks!

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This might surprise you, but often quality furniture can take 8 weeks or more to create and deliver. Some pieces can even take as much as 6 months! Shocking- I know, but let me explain. The main difference is in the quality of each element that goes into the manufacturing of all pieces used to make each furniture.  

For instance the construction of a sofa seat consists of many parts, but one of the main elements in a quality seat made with tempered springs, on an eight way tie, with both foam and down as the seat cushion. This eight way tieing is done by hand, which can take some time to accomplish. There are some lower quality furniture Manufacturers who will do a 5 way tie- this is not as high of a quality furniture pieces as the eight way, though it will take a little less time. 

If you are looking for a quality leather sofa, be sure you are looking at top grain leather. Genuine leather is a misleading label and often is the lowest quality of leather. Top grain leather is often dyed and usually by hand, so this also takes some time. 

The frame of a quality furniture piece will be made with kiln dried wood. Why? Because if you build a piece of furniture that has been made with almost any other treated wood, it will most likely bow and change shape over time as moisture escapes the wood over time. when wood is kiln dried it is highly unlikely it will warp or change shape since all the moisture has been removed from the wood. This process can take several days or even weeks depending on the type of wood.

Drawers and corners of furniture that are made with a detail called dovetailing are only found in quality pieces of furniture. Often lower quality manufacturers will simply nail and glue the corners of their furniture together because it takes less time and costs them less to manufacturer. The only problem is, the furniture pieces don’t last as long. 

There are several other elements that make a quality piece of furniture, but these are some of the easiest elements to be able to see when you are shopping for furniture. That being said, be aware that all of these quality elements are usually hand made, and take time. Because these elements take time and skilled personnel to make them, they will take a longer period of time to make.  

Designer Tip: Don’t be mislead by labels! Simply because it has a higher price tag doesn’t mean the furniture is a quality piece. For instance Restoration Hardware, though is very good at advertising and has some amazing photographers, be aware that not all of their furniture is made with these quality manufacturing elements. that’s not to say that all of their furniture is crap either, but just keep an eye out for details like the ones I listed above to determine what is worth your time and money, and which is not. 


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What you should know about retail furniture

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Retail furniture vendors like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc. have always been a great source for the general public to purchase their furniture needs. However, being a designer, I want to let you in on a secret- almost none of these vendors make their own products. They buy their furniture from wholesalers around the world including China, India, and various other locations, often commissioning these manufacturers to make “exclusive” designs specifically for the retailers.

Ever wondered why the quality of one piece of furniture was so much better or worse than another at the same retail store? It’s probably because different manufacturers made them. Each manufacturer will have their own standards, own materials, own methods, etc. that will be different from the next. Some will be made with better materials, some not-so-much. Most retailers, while they might have “standards”, often times rarely enforce these standards at the manufacturing level, often producing less than high-quality furniture.

There are a few exceptions to this like Ethan Allen, a manufacturer and retailer who owns and runs their own manufacturing plants around the world, allowing them to have quality control over every item they sell.  

Before you dismiss all retail furniture - consider your lifestyle. All levels of furniture have a place in life, whether you have growing kids, young pets, or perhaps you are renting and don’t own your home yet, a lower level furniture purchase can be a perfect fit for your lifestyle - they are durable enough to survive a few years, but after some time, they will begin to show their flaws and you will want to start looking for a replacement for these, which often times is a perfect moment in life to considering buying a high quality piece- once the kids are old enough to not be jumping on the furniture or spilling their drinks and food, or once your pet is old enough to not scratch or chew on your furniture, or once you have purchased a home and have “settled down”.

Perhaps you are in a different phase of life completely, maybe you already own your home, and you are wanting quality pieces of furniture to last for many years to come. This is not the time to buy retail furniture! It might be tempting to, simply because retail furniture items are cheaper than custom or semi-custom pieces, but don’t be swayed- keep in mind you are purchasing furniture now that should last you the rest of your life- or longer. But, should you choose to ignore my advise, and want to purchase retail furniture, please be extremely careful- this could just be a waste of money, and in the end you could end up spending more than you would have if you just went with custom or semi-custom furniture from a quality manufacturer.

A great way to determine if you are buying quality furniture is to understand how furniture is made. See my blog post [HERE] that will tell you everything to look for when purchasing furniture. Also, you could simply ask the sales person in any retail store how their furniture is made and what makes it different from any other manufacturer. If they can’t answer this question, or if their responses are vague, wrong, misleading, or they don’t know, I would suggest you ask a manager or for another associate for assistance. This is usually a sign that this is not a quality furniture store. Also, beware, some associates will lie directly to your face simply to get a sale, so be sure to do your own homework. Often times the furniture you are investing in will last longer than the home you purchase, or the car you drive, so you want to make sure it is a quality investment.  

Designers have access to quality wholesalers and manufacturers that the public does not. And a good designer will have done the research on each of these manufacturers to have a better understanding of the quality of furnishings they produce and should be able to share this information with you.  


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Avoid Common Furniture Mistakes

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Here is a list of common mistakes I see clients (before they hire me) make:

- window drapes are too short

- window drapes are mounted too low on the wall

- too short or too tall nightstands

- too short lamps

- Artwork is mounted too high on the wall

- artwork is too small or too large

- too many accessories

- under utilization of storage options

- ceiling lighting is too small

- too trendy

the list goes on, but these are some of the most common mistakes I see clients making. If you would like to better understand how to avoid these mistakes, check out my e-book "Everything You Need to Know About Interior Design" on Amazon and you will get every little "secret" I have on making your home mistake-free! Click HERE for my e-book.     



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Whats the difference between a Barstool and a Counterstool?

I get asked this question alot, so let me first explain that the main difference between a barstool and a counterstool, is that barstools are taller than counterstools. Counterstools are meant for seating at a counter (often in the kitchen), barstools are meant for seating at a bartop which is higher than a countertop. 

Devi Barstool

Devi Barstool

Devi Counterstool

Devi Counterstool


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How to pick the right finishes for your room

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Long gone are the days when bedrooms that were sold in matching sets were the most desirable look. Now, it often seems like it takes a professional (like me!) to pull together a room. 

Here are just a few helpful hints when selecting furniture:

Select three finishes that you enjoy. Do you like a high-gloss white lacquer? Or do you like dark walnut? If so, write a list of finishes you like. Now select three from this list and only purchase furniture in these finishes. Each room should have a mix of these finishes. If one room has more of one color, make the next room have more of one of the other two color options. 

If you aren't sure what finishes you like, go to a furniture store nearby and ask the sales person to tell you about the options they have available. I would suggest going to a store that will have more than one finish option for each item they show. For example Bassett Furniture, Restoration Hardware, sometimes Pottery Barn/West Elm/Macy's can have finish options. This should help give you an education on the types of finishes available in the market. From here, you will probably have a strong gut reaction either for or against each finish. Write these down, or keep a mental note about the ones you liked. 

For instance, were you drawn to oak finishes? Or did you not like the walnut options that you saw? Keep a list. 

From this list, note a light, medium, and dark option that you liked best. Use these as your three finishes to look for when shopping.     


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How to choose upholstered furniture


Let your lifestyle determine what colors and fabrics you choose. For example, I have a large, hyper dog constantly climbing on the furniture. If I brought home a white suede couch, it would be torn apart and stained in minutes. If you have kids or pets, stick with dark colors and stain-resistant tough fabrics like linen or tweed. 

Stick to neutral colors for your bigger and more expensive pieces. Save bold colors for décor pieces. 

If you like firm sofas, look for one with traditional coiled springs. If you want a softer feel, go with zigzag coils. Before you buy, take off the cushions and press down on the base of the sofa. The coils should push down and spring back into place immediately. 

Look for firm cushions with a removable cover matching on both sides. Firm cushions hold up better over time. Fully covered cushions cost a bit more than ones with the pattern on one side and a plain white or tan backing, but they’ll last longer and wear evenly if you can flip them over every few months. Find removable covers that are easily washable.



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The Best Yardage Guide for Reupholstering your Furniture



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The Best Size Furniture in Your Home

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The most common sizes of furniture are the following:

  • Sofa (3 seater): 78-90” W x 34-38” D x 30”H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Love Seat (2 seater): 56-68” W x 34-38” D x 30”H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Chaise Lounge Chair: 72-90” W x 30-36” D x 30” H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Club Chair: 30-36” W x 30-36” D x 30” H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Dining Chair (with arms): 22-24” W x 16-24” D x 30” H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Dining Chair (without arms): 18-22” W x 16-24” D x 30” H (with an 18” Seat Height)

  • Coffee Table (square): 24-48” W x 24-48” D x 18” H

  • Coffee Table (rectangle): 24-48” W x 16-28” D x 18” H

  • Cocktail Table (Round Coffee Table): 18-32” D x 18” H
  • Ottoman: 22-46” W x 22-46” D x 18” H

  • End Table: 14-24” W x 14-24” D x 24-30” H

  • Rectangular Dining Table: 36-48” W x 36-48” D x 30” H

  • Round Dining Table: 36-60” D x 30” H

  • Drop Leaf Table: 36-72”W x 31-63” (with leaves) x 30” H

  • Console Table: 48-72” W x 15-20” D x 30”H

  • Desk: 28-48” W x 24-30” D x 30”H

  • Buffet: 48-72” W x 16-26” D x 24-30” H

  • Armoire: 36-60” W x 30-30”D x 48-60”H

  • Dresser: 30-74” W x 20-24” D x 30”H

  • Nightstand: 14-24” W x 14-24” D x 24-30”H


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What to expect when purchasing furniture

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Furniture can range a lot in pricing but it all comes down to quality. In most cases you get what you pay for with furniture, but there is that rare occasion when you can find quality furniture for a discounted price (usually around major holidays).

Below is a list of general mid-range prices to consider when purchasing furniture:

  • 36”x 84” Sofa: $2300-$4000

  • 30” x 60” Lounge Chair: $925-$1050

  • 30”x 60” Coffee Table: $500-$800

  • Bed Frame: $600-$1700

  • 24” x 30” Side Table/ Nightstand: $200-$400

  • 24” x 48” Writing Table: $750

  • 24” x 72” Dresser: $1700


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7 Simple Steps to Painting Furniture

In order to paint furniture, you will need to follow these 7 simple steps:

1. Clean your furniture down with an neutral cleaner (I like Murphy's Oil Soap) , and remove all hardware.

2. Use a medium grit sandpaper to sand down whatever finish is already on your furniture, and make sure all surfaces have the same type of finish after using the sandpaper.

3. Use an Oil Based Primer (I prefer a spray, but if you prefer liquid you can also use that).

4. Use Floetrol in your paint (this is an additive that will help your paint stay wet longer, making all those brush strokes go away while drying at a slower rate).

5. Paint in small sections using a natural bristle brush, roller, or paint sprayer.

6. Use a fine grit sandpaper to sand down any rough patches of paint after it has dried. Repeat paint as necessary. 

7. Use a finishing wax once your furniture has approximately the desired finish will help hide any impurities. Let your furniture dry. TA-DA! You should have a gorgeous like-new piece of furniture with a beautiful new paint job.   


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