One of the nicest aspects of decorating a vacation rental home is creating a space that evokes a change of pace, a different vibe, and a fresh new scene. For many vacation homes, the outdoor living space is just as important as the indoor rooms when it comes to setting the stage. Choosing the right colors is vital in designing a space that will provide rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation in your home away from home. Here are four quick tips to help you select the best colors for outdoor furniture, decor and accessories in your vacation rental.

Identify Permanent Structures

First, take into account the colors of permanent structures. If your outdoor space is attached to the home, the exterior wall—be it brick, siding, stucco or another material—is most certainly a foundational part of the color scheme. Permanent structures can also be natural elements, such as trees, bushes or even the ground cover. These are just as important to include in your design plan, given the myriad variations of green present in nature. Once you’ve identified your permanent structures, find paint chips that most closely capture or complement the colors of these elements, and begin there.

Think Local

Second, think about any classic color schemes that are representative of your geographic location. If renters are visiting the area to get a taste of the local vibe, chances are they may expect their vacation rental to also reflect regional colors. Be sure to consider this as you plan your outdoor space, especially if a selling point for your property is that it provides a local experience. You can always start with a location-based color scheme and use accessories to make the space more unique.

Consider the Seasons

Next, consider the seasons during which your visitors will use the space. For vacation homes that have year-round temperate weather, consider selecting two color schemes, one for spring/summer months and one for fall/winter months, to keep the space looking fresh and updated. One easy option for year-round outdoor spaces is to select neutral colors for permanent elements, such as outdoor sofas, and then change throw pillows, blankets and indoor/outdoor rugs each season to incorporate the popular colors of the year.

Also, try to anticipate the time of the day that visitors will likely be using the deck, patio, lanai or porch. Will guests be enjoying an early-morning breakfast on the patio before setting out for a day of hiking? Or will they be relaxing in a hot tub or in front of a fireplace in the evening once the sun has set? The amount and direction of available natural light has a significant impact on the colors in the space.

Set the Vibe

Think about how you want the outdoor space to feel. Are you going for energizing, tranquil, warm, modern, or anything in between? Understanding the basics of color theory will help you understand how certain combinations of colors create different moods, thereby helping you make an informed decision when it’s time to choose outdoor furniture and decor. Here are a few simple formulas to follow once you’re ready to create your own color palette:

A monochromatic palette includes various shades of the same color. An example of a monochrome palette is a paint chip from a hardware store that has multiple concentrations of the same color. Choose this type of palette in grays or tans to create a modern, minimalist look.

An analogous palette includes colors, usually three, that are immediately next to each other on a 12-part color wheel. Use a combination of blue tones for a balanced, peaceful mood. Keep in mind that an analogous palette can sometimes feel a bit too calm, so plan to include an accent color or two for accessories that are easy to change according to seasons or trends.

A complementary palette includes colors that are directly opposite one another on a color wheel, like purple and yellow. This positioning creates high contrast and high energy. Remember that, like heavy spices in recipes, for complementary colors, a little can go a long way (just think of how much a bright red barn pops in the middle of a green field).

You are certainly not limited to these three palettes. For more color theory-based combinations, consider triadic, tetradic, and more.

Now, Have Fun Decorating the Space

Once you’ve identified existing permanent elements, taken regional colors into account, thought about the seasons and the desired mood for your space, you are ready to decorate outdoor space in your vacation home. With advances in outdoor fabrics and furniture materials, you can easily decorate exterior rooms in a way that complements the interior of your home and the surrounding environment.


Laura Love Bardell develops design-savvy content about outdoor furniture for Crate and Barrel. She enjoys giving tips for how to create an outdoor oasis.