A Designer's Guide on How To Creatively Stay on Budget

There is a common misconception that when you hire an interior designer, they will only tell you to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! This is not true at all. Here at The Social Home, we love being your ally and hope to become one of your most trusted consultants. We want to make your project successful, and we know that one of the best ways to create a successful project is to adhere to a budget.

When furnishing a short term rental, TSH understands that an investor needs to maintain specific numbers to be profitable. We are not going to show you a $5,000 lamp. Although stunning, you would NEVER see an ROI on that baby. Now saying this, we also understand that in hospitality - there are areas you MUST spend a little more to create a memorable experience.

Today we are outlining some of the top areas to cut costs and items where we recommend spending a little more. Sometimes the upfront investment in quality means you will not be replacing said item six months after you welcome your first guest.


SPEND MORE: Any pieces that will get heavy duty use or furniture that makes a statement. In a short term rental - you cannot predict who will be utilizing your space or how they use those pieces. Hosts cannot think of their properties as a traditional residential space. You are better off selecting more durable dining chairs, dining tables, sofas/sectionals, or any other piece of furniture that is likely to get used and abused. In addition to the more durable items, we recommend incorporating a few pieces that have a "Wow Factor" and will help create a unique environment.

SPEND LESS: Any pieces that are more for utility, or you know you will need to replace often. Side tables, TV Credenzas, Bed Frames, or Dressers are great examples. These are pieces that fill a space but are not the main attraction. At times a funky bed can become a focal point, but if you are going for a more simple look - don't overspend on a bed frame you could get from Amazon.


SPEND MORE: The bed you create for your guest will have a HUGE impact on your guest's satisfaction and potential ratings. Ideally, provide a high-quality mattress, at least four pillows per queen/king and two pillows per twin, a quality comforter or duvet and an extra throw blanket. Invest in "Hospitality Grade" white linens that you will be able to wash in a commercial washer with bleach time and time again without the fear of them disintegrating.

SPEND LESS: Towels and washcloth. While still important, are one of the areas you don't need to spend too much on. In all reality, you will be replacing these every six months. Unfortunately, guests have been known to use them to clean up spills, vomit, and who knows what else. Furthermore, ladies use the washcloths to wipe away their mascara and other hard to remove makeup. Some hosts will provide a black "makeup" washcloth to combat this, but it doesn't always get used. A local retailer such as Target will have excellent priced options.


SPEND MORE: Art is one of those areas that Hosts fail to do well. Many short term rentals we have seen barely have anything hanging on the walls. While we do not recommend commissioning a well-known artist to create a one-of-a-kind piece, you should have at least one or two pieces that help create that "Wow Factor." Your art is what helps tell the story of your concept. Are you in Nashville? Have some cool vintage vinyl records on the wall. Here at The Social Home, we recommend spending more in terms of quantity and "filling" space. Doing this is what will make your rental feel like a home.

SPEND LESS: Aside from the one or two pieces that are your statement pieces, feel free to fill the blank walls with artwork and wall decor from your standard retail store or Home Goods. Keep your overall theme in mind so as not to create a disjointed space.


SPEND MORE: Again, look at areas you are trying to make an impact or perhaps creating a "Social Media Moment." An incredible $25/SF tile as a backsplash to a built-in bar would be an excellent investment. That same tile throughout an entire room, not necessary. Splurge for the finishes that create the overall environment.

SPEND LESS: There is nothing wrong with classics and basics that give your rental a sturdy foundation. New paint - although less expensive than other finishes - still makes a project feel updated. And don't forget what a simple pop of color can do to liven up a room.


SPEND MORE: Creating an overall environment by adding any final touches that will impress your guests such as board games, throw pillows and blankets throughout or maybe a beach cruiser. As with the art, spend a little more until the rental feels like a home. No need to overdo it but showing that you have created a home rather than just a place to put your head will help you increase your overall ratings and reviews.

SPEND LESS: Anything that will break easily. Guests will appreciate the fact that you have wine glasses; they will not care if you spent $2 on them or $20 on a "Burgundy Wine Glass" (unless your rental is in Wine Country.) The same is true for any of your dinnerware, silverware or little extras that may "walk" away.

Thank you as always for spending a few moments with us at The Social Home. We hope we provided you with some helpful advice. As always, if you ever have any questions or help to turn your rental into a Tiny Boutique Hotel, please feel free to reach out.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Interior Designer

Let's say it - this blog post is self-promotion at it's finest. I am and have been a professional interior designer for over a decade and, I freaking LOVE it! Throughout my career, when I explain what I do to people - over and over, I have gotten "Wow, I would love to do that." Or, "You are so lucky to have a career that you are passionate about." I do feel very passionate about what interior designers do for the world. Do we save babies or cure illness? No. However, have you ever been to an incredible restaurant where the ambiance seemed almost magical? Alternatively, have you stayed at a beautiful resort where you felt swept away to another world? That magical ambiance and otherworldliness is the work of talented and dedicated designers.

Interior designers create the spaces you live, work and play in. This is our art.

Not every Host wants and or needs to hire a professional interior designer for their short term rental. Some Hosts themselves naturally have an eye for design and know precisely how to make the design come together without outside assistance. Some have budget or time constraints, and others plain do not see the value added by a designer. That is cool - you do you.

I am here for the other group. The ones who see the value a well-designed rental can add to the bottom line. The ones who prefer to create an authentic experience for their guests and not merely a bed to sleep in. Because folks, the hospitality world is changing in a big way. There are a group of people that are looking for authentic immersion when they travel. They will pay a little more to have an intimate adventure and all they are waiting for, is you - the Host to offer them a beautifully curated space. And one of the BEST people to have on your team to create this space - a professional interior designer.

So what exactly can you expect when you hire a professional interior designer?

1. A Designer can make magic happen.

You may be able to put together a collection of beautiful images on Pinterest, but a designer knows how to interpret and source all those images and put a game plan into action. We see the style you are aiming for and then bring the vision to life. We won't merely copy your inspiration; we will make adjustments to redefine the look to be unique and eye-catching for your personal space and style.

2. A Designer will help you create an overall budget for your project.

One huge misconception is that having a Designer will mean you need to spend beyond your means. Not true. We want every project to be successful, and the first step in that process is determining the budget and the roadmap for success. (Check out our blog post here on how to outline a furnishings budget.) We understand the costs associated and have purchased enough projects to know what it takes to make a property feel complete. Frequently DIYers underestimate how much it takes to fully furnish a property. They do not purchase enough and then have to go out and buy things last minute without really thinking. Or worse yet, they consider a space complete when it has bare walls, no accessories and no life. Who wants to stay there?

3. You will save time and sanity.

It is one thing to see a pretty picture - it is an entirely different story to be able to source the items in those images. Because it is our job to be in the know - we are. It will take far less time for a designer to pull together a complete design than the average Joe. It is second nature to us. We attend trade shows, receive trade magazines, are continually learning about new products and services. Design is our world - design in our language.

4. We can source unique custom pieces from manufacturers that are trade only.

These are the pieces that will make your short term rental stand out from the average Jane's rental down the street. If you purchase your furnishings from the same online retailers as everyone else, what makes your rental different? One trick in a designer's tool bag is the trade only brands. These are manufacturers who offer their pieces exclusively to designers. Would you like a gold-painted wingback chair with tropical upholstery? You may have to go to a custom manufacturer for this, and most do not work directly with the public.

5. Professional Experience.

Why does anyone hire a professional? Experience and knowledge. Yes, you can do most things in this world with YouTube videos and a Google search bar. ( I can show you several of my own Pinterest Fails!) In over a decade and with hundreds of projects under my belt - restaurants, hotels, resorts, spas, high-end residential, offices - I have learned a lesson or two. A professional will help you avoid costly mistakes because chances are - we have seen it before.

6. You may save money.

If all you are trying to do is save money - do not hire a designer. If you see the value of the service, saving money can be an added benefit. Depending on whom you hire, a designer will often pass along a portion of the trade discount to their client. Each manufacturer and retailer often give designers a discount to use their products. This discount can range anywhere from 10% to 50%. Even with a small project, this can mean thousands of dollars in savings and oftentimes covers the fee of using a designer.

Have you been thinking about hiring an interior designer for your short term rental? Check out the "Shop +Book" section of our website for pricing and services. With our e-design services, we may be much more affordable than you think. Let us know how we can help you turn your investment into a Tiny Boutique Hotel.

#airbnbdesign, #shortermrentaldesign, #thesocialhomestudioblog, #vrbodesign, #interiordesign

Tips From a Professional Photographer for Creating

Eye-Catching Listing Images

It would be an obvious and colossal understatement to say that incredible photography of your short term rental is KEY to having a great listing. I am going to be honest, and admit something that I shouldn’t - your photography may even be more important than great design.

(Ugh! That was painful.)

A well-designed space is crucial. But if you have a beautiful rental with lackluster listing images to sell it, no one will want to book. Your photos are by far your most significant selling tool. This is what grabs the travelers' attention and pulls them in. These pictures are what paint the picture and sell the dream of having a fantastic getaway in your space and city.

Don't just take my word for it. Recently I was able to catch up with my old friend Ashley Scott of Lovely and Limitless and ask her a few questions about how to capture great photos for short term rentals. She is a modern day multi-hyphenate. Entrepreneur - Travel Enthusiast - Art Director - Graphic Designer - Blogger - Social Media Influencer and most importantly to this conversation - an incredible photographer. She shared some of her gorgeous photos along with tips on how she creates eye-catching images for her clients.

(TSH) What are a few of the biggest or most common mistakes you see in listing photos?

• (AS) If your goal is to really make your listing shine, you're going to need high-resolution photos of your space that are not only crisp but also have the proper color correction done to them as well. There is nothing worse than have a beautiful space but the photos have a yellow or blue tint throwing them off. Daylight is your best light source possible. Open the windows and brighten your space as much as possible using natural light sources. Also, think wide angle! Most professional architectural photographers use wide angle lenses to really amplify their photos making even the smallest spaces feel large and inviting. Staging is also a huge game-changer for listing photos. Dress up your spaces with a pop of color using a throw blanket or add some planters to help give some texture to your photos. Make sure your counters are clean from clutter and anything that may be seen as distracting from the overall layout of the space.   

(TSH) What is THE most crucial element of a great interior photograph?

• (AS) It's all in the details! The most crucial elements in interior photography are those little touches and attention to detail. For example, if your living room has a coffee table, why not dress it up with a cute welcome booklet and magazines related to the area to give visitors a real sense of place when staying on your property. It helps provide an inviting feel to those potential clients who are looking to book a stay. 

(TSH) What is the best time of day to shoot? Should you have a combination of daylight and nighttime shots?

• (AS) I typically shoot all interior photos midday. The most natural light the better. For past rental owners, I have shot exterior photos at sunrise or sunset to really amplify the colors and give their space a warm and inviting feel. This helps avoid any hard shadows that can distract from the overall look and feel of the location. Also, do you have a beautiful patio that is perfect for star-gazing? Show it off by having a professional photographer take a night-time shot to really show visitors what it's like to enjoy the view from the deck. 

(TSH) What are some easy ways to make an image pop?

• (AS) Edit edit edit is my advice! Even raw files straight from a professionals camera need to be adjusted after the fact. Using programs like Lightroom or Photoshop to improve the clarity and color balance of your photos will do numbers on the final end result.  

(TSH) How many shots should you expect your photographer to take?

• (AS) Typically I've delivered 20 final edited photos to my clients. This gives you interior, exterior & detail shots. I've also had owners ask I take some other shots out while visiting the area to share on their listing page. This can help showcase the area around the rental as well for those looking for more activities in the area. 

(TSH) What are some of the ways Hosts can use their photography to market on Social Media?

• (AS) Social media marketing is really taking over the advertising industry. Not only is it great to have photos on your social media feeds but it's also instrumental in sharing on Instagram - for example using Stories. This way you can share your space with followers to keep in their mind that your rental is out there and, as an added benefit you can geotag locations and use hashtags so that people using the platform as a search engine will come across your photos faster and direct. 

(TSH) Why hire a professional photographer?

• (AS) Have you ever heard to term "a picture is worth a thousand words"? Well, that couldn't be more true! You have only seconds to catch the eye of a potential client swiping past your listing to tell the whole story of your rental space. Hiring a professional photographer increases your chance that you're listing will be clicked as well as really elevates you from the competition.  

(TSH) Any other tips, tricks, or trends we should know? 

• (AS) Look into social media marketing and its full potential! Word of mouth is huge for Airbnb or HomeAway listed properties, and local bloggers or social media influencers that stay at rentals tend to share it with others and their followers.

Want to find out more about working with Ashley?

Head on over to her website lovelyandlimitless.com to find more about her services, links to her stunning Instagram feed, and Pinterest page where you can find travel inspiration.

Ashley has over 12+ years of experience working on a variety of projects as both a graphic designer and art director. Currently her work has been focused on web based marketing and advertising, creation of brand identities, art direction for video & editorial projects as well as social media marketing and content creation for brands.


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