If you were starting from scratch and designing a house for a vacation rental, close to an outdoor recreation hub, what would be the priorities for layout, to include as amenities, etc.?
I find this to be the best rental in my area (your area will have different needs):
3 bed, 1 bath, 900 sq ft, full kitchen and bath with all amenities you would reasonably find in someone else's home. Memory foam mattresses, with one coil bed for traditionalists. Seating for 6 in the living room with 4 reclining seats.
Outside needs to be nice for my demographic (families) as well.
I put a lot of tile and solid wood wainscotting in my units to avoid damages from pets and children. It is bombproof. Rugs in high traffic areas. I do all my own maintenance, so this really helps me out. I send my rugs to the cleaners 2x a year. They come in, roll them up, haul them away, bring them back the next day and roll them out. I highly recommend it, and it will save carpet or softer wood floors from heavy wear and tear.
I use slate tiles as a backsplash in the kitchen. If you, or your tile person, cuts the 12"x12" slate into thirds, you can achieve a fabulous "stacked" look, with no grouting needed. Slate is hard to work with FYI, but very easy to cut. The problem is that it flakes when you use the "rainbow" slate. It is just how the stone is. It is so light, I just thinset it directly onto sheetrock. But wow, some mineral oil to bring out the little highlights, and you've got a killer backsplash for about $1.25/sq ft. This style of slate has a lot of iridescence.
Cable TV + highest speed internet in your area, board games, outdoor games (big fans of Goodminton over here!) books, plants, and weird things to pick up and look at (we have a skull collection in one unit, and a crystal collection in another).
I have edited and hung up those national parks posters that I'm sure you've seen before. I printed them off at Costco, and put them in some cheap frames. Looks amazing, and really goes with our motif.
I buy my big furniture off of craigslist and estate auctions. I fix it up if it needs it.
I have developed my own design style, which I call "post rustic" which people seem to really enjoy. I utilize a lot of reclaimed wood, plus steel, iron, copper, and aircraft cables. My shelves are very unique, and people tell me all the time they want to copy my design. Come up with your own designs and people will love and appreciate it!
Here's where you can't go wrong: Design a space that people would never live in at home, for whatever reason. Too risque, too "out there", too colorful... It doesn't matter, people will LOVE IT when they don't have to live in it 24/7. People will enjoy the different atmosphere, and think "Well that's what my house would look like with bright yellow walls."
I've included my shelf design here, sorry for the mess, but you get the idea.
Also, a picture of my "stacked" slate backsplash. I don't have a picture of just the backsplash, but you get the idea from this photo below.
Thank you for all the details and great advice.
@Karen Margrave , my friend Jim has a vacation rental on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. 3/2, with a King sized bed in the master with attached bath, two-sink vanity with shower/tub and plenty of towel storage in the hallway bathroom, then two smaller bedrooms, one with 2 sets of bunk beds and one with a queen bed.
All bedrooms are smallish, while the rest of the house is open-concept. Fairly large kitchen that opens to a dining room and living room with a bank of windows facing the lake. Sleeping space is not huge, but gathering space is.
In a vacation home, I want two showers and at least one bathtub. I like having 2 toilets and the common space being open so you can sit on the couch and still be part of the conversation happening in the kitchen if you choose.
If I own the property and want to rent it out, a lock off space for storing cleaning supplies and extra linens would be ideal.
Just a tip-- In my area, the thrift shops are loaded with Grandma's crystal for $1 a piece. So my coffee station is supplied with a crystal sugar bowl, my soap dishes are lead crystal, my mis-matched wine glasses are awesome, a crystal dish holds popurri in the bedroom. Run the crystal through the dishwasher with that last load of dishes to clean. Crystal goes with the cutesy country decor of my Country Apartment, and if something gets broken or swiped-- hey it was just a buck! After all -- it wasn't my grandmother's crystal!
The way you decorate your places sounds alot like how I do mine. My ideal rental would have 2 full baths, or at least a full and a 3/4 bath. My renters have to bathe and use the toilet when they get off work. 3 bedrooms is ideal. 4 would be better, but in this town the real estate market is kinda funny. A 4 BR house usually sells for twice the amount as a 3 BR house.
My living rooms all have a theme with the artwork. The artwork theme can be action movies, Quentin Tarrantino movies, James Bond movies, ships, hunting dogs, duck hunting, deer hunting, sports, World War 2 Go USA propaganda, Clint Eastwood/John Wayne Westerns, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rock Music, etc.
About half of my artwork has been autographed. It is movie poster boards. I have the entire band Metallica, several Brad Pitts, Tom Hanks, the guys from Fast and Furious, Arnold S, Clint E. Myself and my friends autograph them.
All my kitchens have several Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansen or Cameron Diaz prints. The female autographs are a little difficult for a guy to forge.
All my bedrooms have classy PG13 or R rated artwork.
I also make all the picture frames for the artwork. It's usually with 1x2's and a table saw. I sand, stain and urethane all the wood. Cut it to proper dimensions and then make a frame.