ShortTermRentalz speaks to Vacasa’s senior director of design services, Kimberly White, about the purpose of the company’s latest Interior Design program and the latest design trends in the space.
- Can you explain what the Vacasa Interior Design program is? Who is it aimed at and what do you hope to achieve with it?
Our design program consists of our team here in Portland, which has five interior designers, who specialise in vacation rental interior design as opposed to just primary residence design. It is aimed at all of our Vacasa homeowners, in particular homeowners who we feel are leaving money on the table, and we’re able to turn that home around, give it a refresh and the owners can get more revenue because we’ve done so. What we hope to achieve is that the homeowners will make more money and ultimately that leads to Vacasa making more money as well. In addition to that, I think the guests very much benefit from that as the expectations of guests in this industry keep going up and up. It’s a great thing but it’s something that homeowners and property managers are going to need to rise to meet and so our program can stay ahead of that trend.
- Why have you come up with three program design packages and how will each of them help to expertly style vacation rentals?
On our pilot program, we tried to view different fee structures as there’s a lot of ways to set things up in interior design, including taking a percentage of the cost of the furniture or using an hourly rate, but we thought that our homeowners really wanted something that was simple. In that way, we created packages with just a flat fee so the design would seem acceptable, approachable and accessible to them at a lower price.
Our first package includes a lot of digital design where we depend on floor plans and we’re making recommendations for the type of owner who really likes to do it themselves and have a hand in everything in design / furniture etc. We have a design blueprint that will help them make their next decision so that package is meant to be the entry point for people that want to do it on their own. We found that because homeowners hire Vacasa to be a full-service property management company, they often need to hire the full extent of the inside of the job.
The second package suits the majority of our homeowners as it allows them to upgrade their own space. They get their own design strategy plan with our designers and they are able to go back and forth with them in coordinating shopping, delivering etc. We do photos, review rates etc and the owner gets to see the end results and the benefits without really having to do much other than give their own opinion – I think that’s what the homeowners really appreciate.
The third package came up during our pilot as we found that we were doing quite a few full furnishings. That is something that we anticipated but not as much as we were getting. That’s good in hindsight but it needs quite a bit more coordination when you’re doing all the work, there’s a lot more shipments and boxes to open etc so we created the third package to cover our plans and leave it at that. The vast selection is great for our investor-type owners that are coming into Vacasa. We hope to position ourselves in a way that we are the obvious solution as we are taking care of that part for them and making it as easy as possible for them.
- What trends are becoming prevalent in the interior design space?
I can think of three that are particular prevalent although I could speak all day about trends in the industry.
The first is the resurgence of colour back into our spaces. I see it happening across the board in vacation rentals and what better way than to make your picture at the top of your listing include contrasting colours to create that interest for the eyes to lead on. I also think bohemian styles are a trend that is particularly hot, and with summer coming up I don’t see that disappearing any time soon. I think we’re seeing even more intricate wall paintings which are beautiful and add great texture. We’re also seeing a lot of paint and furniture and that sort of vibe creates a traveller wanderlust experience that goes hand-in-hand with what we’re doing in short-term rentals.
The last one I would say is there has been a prevalence of gallery walls in the design world where you’re doing full wall images – it’s hard to get right in a way that makes a lot of sense for the space. The good news for us is that gallery walls are moving over to make way for large murals and wallpaper and these are all making big comebacks. This is great for short-term rentals because of the impacts they can make for your listing photo. I don’t think these trends will slow down any time soon.