vacation rental property

Building design and renovating ideas for income-producing vacation rental properties

These renovating and building design inspirations from around the world will make you want to invest in money-making vacation rentals.

Looking to invest in vacation rental properties? Before you start posting for-rent ads in Airbnb, Homeaway, or Vrbo, make sure that your property is ready for its first occupants. The best way to do this is by hiring a building design expert who can help you spruce up your place to make it ideal as a vacation rental property.

This article will guide you on how you can turn a rental property into a profitable and rewarding venture for vacationers across the globe!

Why invest in vacation rentals?

Tourism is one of the biggest drivers of Australia’s economy, with a DFAT reporting that it contributes around AUD152 billion to the economy. According to a report by KPMG, domestic tourists spent a whopping AUD89 billion in 2019 alone. Statista says that vacation rentals may generate up to US$71 billion in total revenue in 2021. You can take advantage of this boom in the tourism industry by offering a property as a staycation rental.

australian tourism
image: Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Tips before renovating a property for rental purposes

Choose a well-located property

As the saying goes, in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. If you are planning to purchase a property you will rent out for staycations, choose an excellent location. This means properties near tourist spots or local areas of interest. If you can buy a house or an apartment near a commercial centre, that will be a significant boost to your rental’s potential. When people go on staycations, they want to stay near restaurants, markets, or convenience stores.

Assess your property preferences

Staycation goers have different preferences for accommodations, with some favouring granny flats and extensions while others prefer container homes, tree houses, or apartments. Doing your research can help you determine which kind of property will be more attractive to renters. You can look up listings on an area and check which ones are more popular, or you can ask landlords which among their properties generate the most income.

ideal vacation rental property location by the sea
image: Pexels | Pixabay

Go for sustainability

More and more people are leaning towards sustainable accommodations, and you need to keep this in mind while property hunting. A sustainable property can help you keep your utilities down and increase your income. Sustainable properties can also help endear you to your community and help you avoid friction with your neighbours.

Try committing to a theme

Themed rentals are the most popular rental types and something that you should consider if you want to attract more business. You can search online for themed ideas that you can incorporate in your building design to make your property unique. Although themed rentals might cost more to renovate, you can provide your guests with a one-of-a-kind experience that can generate favourable reviews and create a buzz for your rental property.

Be your own guest

In planning your renovations, ask yourself what you want to see on a rental if you are the guest. This can help guide you on what you can add to your rental property to make your guests more comfortable during their stay. Common concerns of staycation goers include WiFi connectivity, comfortable beds, spacious storage, and a functional kitchen should be on top of your list during renovations.

Talk to a building design expert

Building designers are experts in almost all kinds of designs and can figure out what design will work for your property. They can see the big picture, understand your vision, create a detailed plan based on your style preferences while considering the property’s existing features.

Building design and renovating inspirations from around the world

Heritage homes

Heritage homes are excellent rental properties because they offer guests a unique experience, especially those who want to try living in something other than a modern house or condo unit. If you have a Colonial or Victorian home, you can turn it into a rental property, but renovate it first as needed.

Although heritage homes are old, the bathrooms and kitchen should be updated and functional to make your guests comfortable. Be sure to get in touch with a building design expert specialising in heritage homes to preserve the original structure of your home. It will also be best to ask your local council about regulations surrounding the renovations of heritage homes because some areas have local laws protecting them. 

Here are some heritage home vacation rentals we found on Airbnb and Boutique Homes:

heritage home for rent with still intact building design
heritage home bedroom
interior building design of heritage home

image: Airbnb

exterior building design of a heritage home for rent
interior building design of a heritage old home for vacation rent
dining area of renovated heritage home

image: Airbnb

heritage home with classic building design
living room of renovated heritage home
deck area of renovated heritage home

image: Airbnb

exterior building design of a heritage home for rent
interior building design of a heritage villa for rent
heritage villa cozy bedroom
pool area of heritage villa for rent


exterior building design of vacation home rental in scotland
renovated bedroom of heritage villa for rent
interior building design of heritage villa vacation home in scotland


Portable homes

You might not think much about them, but portable homes are excellent staycation rentals, especially if they are near the beach or a national park. What’s great about container homes is that they are cheaper to buy than houses or apartments, so you can start your rental business even if you don’t have significant capital.

You can renovate a bus or container home and fit it with amenities that staycation goers would love. During renovations, be sure to maximise the limited space by utilising every available nook and cranny to make it suitable for rental. Hanging shelves are excellent storage options, and installing mirrors can help give the illusion of space to your portable home.

Here are some portable homes converted into vacation rentals:

portable home coaster for rent
bedroom area of coaster for rent
interior design of portable home for rent

image: Airbnb

boho airstream for rent
airstream interior design
airstream for rent interior design

image: Airbnb

container home building design
modern interiors in portable home
interior design of container home

image: Airbnb

Barns or sheds

If you have a seldom-used barn or shed, you can turn it into a staycation rental place for guests looking for an unforgettable experience. Not everybody can boast that they’ve spent a night in a barn or shed during a staycation, and you can leverage this unique experience when advertising your rental.

A good building design expert can help you transform your barn into a warm and comfortable rental place. You can convert the loft into a bedroom area while confining the common areas on the ground floor. Since barns are associated with farms, you can maintain a parochial feel by using rustic decors and wooden furniture.

barn exterior building design
barn bedroom made of light t
barn interior building design

image: Airbnb

exterior building design of barn for rent
barn cozy boho bedroom design
barn with homey kitchen

image: Airbnb

Abandoned buildings

If you have a two or three-storey building, you can convert it into a small hotel with the help of a building design expert. During renovations, ensure that there are no structural damages to the building to ensure the safety of your guests. You can also incorporate the history of the building into your renovations to make it unique. If the building used to be a bank, you can integrate old bank equipment into the building design, like using old check writers or coin registers are decors. 

exterior building design of an abandoned bank turned into rental property
vintage kitchen design of a bank turned into a rental property
interior building design of a bank turned into vacation rental property

image: Airbnb


Australia has many castles for sale, and most of them cost just under AUD1 million, making them ideal options for staycation rentals. A private room on a castle has a romantic appeal and can be attractive, especially for couples.

A building design expert specialising in castles can help you renovate while maintaining the castle’s essence. Your rooms can be a harmonious blend between the castle’s history and modern comforts like heaters, old armoires, vintage lighting fixtures, and modern bathroom fixtures so that you can give your guests the best of both worlds.

You can research the castle’s history so you can incorporate the castle’s history into your building design. You can even hold tours while regaling your guests with the history of the castle.

castle turned into vacation rental property
exterior building design of castle turned into vacation rental property

image: Airbnb

exterior building design of castle for rent
bedroom of castle for rent
dining area of castle of rent

image: Airbnb

Home extensions or granny flat

If you want a vacation rental you can manage without being too far from your home, a home extension or granny flat might be the one for you. Granny flats may be small, but they can be in high demand, especially if you live in a touristy area near the beach or a historic district. 

Renovating a granny flat for rental purposes is easy because all you have to do is ensure that it has the amenities a staycation goer will look for, like a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and internet connectivity. If you have a large backyard or lawn, you can construct a patio where guests can have their morning coffee or relax after a day of sightseeing.

Here’s a one-bedroom renovated granny flat:

building design of a one-bedroom granny flat in the woods
exterior building design of a one-bedroom granny flat in the woods
granny flay deck design

image: Baahouse + Baastudio /

Final thoughts

Renting out a property to staycation goers can be a profitable venture if your property can offer something that other listings may not have. Renovating your property to ensure it has everything that a vacationer needs can help ensure that your property will be sought after by vacationers across the globe.

Once you have your sights set on a property, get in touch with an architect, building designer, or a draftsperson, so you can start your journey as a landlord to staycation goers. You can connect with any of these professionals using the Dreamspace platform. Dreamspace is a free-to-access project coordination platform that can match you to the best designer and consultants based on your project brief. You can also get free project consultations via phone and video chat.

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