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As spring approaches, many property owners are working hard to make their vacation rentals feel like special places for their soon-to-arrive guests. While the weather improves, so do your chances of creating an oasis from the world that people will not only want to come back to again and again, but that they will tell their friends and family about.

Upgrading your rental property's outdoor space is a great way to get there, and the best part is you don't have to do it all at once. With a little planning and relatively little investment, you can begin turning your rental into a resort. Creating an outdoor oasis has the extra benefit of literally adding to your living space's square footage-and nothing feels so luxurious as a little more room to roam.

Bring the Indoors Out

The simplest way to conceive of the project is to recreate most of the spaces where people gather indoors in that outdoor space. You can go one room at a time, but considering the potential return on investment- tackling the whole project at once may return your investment more quickly than you think, in the form of positive online reviews and increased bookings.

  • Family room: With so many outdoor furniture options, it's easy to pick a that complements your indoor decor. That's key to making your outdoor space feel like extra square footage. Whether you go with wood (teak and cedar are your most durable options), metal or all-weather resin, make sure to include durable pillows and cushions.

For a more contemporary look, go for low backs and clean, straight lines. If a more traditional feel is what you're going for, keep the backs higher and look for something with a little more curve and shape. Splurge on a large coffee table that will accommodate snacks and drinks as well as games and general family fun.

  • Dining room: A circular outdoor dining table promotes conversation and encourages interaction. It also gives you another space for games and projects when you're not eating. If the budget allows, choose chairs with arms so that you can really relax into the evening. While there's no rule that your outdoor furniture needs to match your indoor furniture, a dining set that matches the family room set brings a little order to the outdoors and gives your vacation rental that resort-like polish.
  • Kitchen: A good gas barbecue is definitely a perk in a vacation rental, and an outdoor kitchen really takes it to the next level. Building the barbecue into a counter console that provides prep space and storage is more affordable than you might guess and makes outdoor cooking a pleasurable experience.
  • Bedroom: What says "vacation" more than a nap in the middle of the afternoon? A nap outside on a gently swaying hammock! A hammock built for two also allows you and a spouse (or you and a couple of little ones) a little stargazing time before bed, or a lazy afternoon with a good novel.

Turn the Porch Into a Patio

Create another nook for your guests right on the front porch by adding a porch swing built for two. Go for extra comfort with an outdoor rug and a ceiling fan. A patio porch is also a great way to get a little separation if your guests are sharing the space, or the grownups and the kids just need a little time apart.

A Fabulous Finish

Once the basics are covered, consider a couple of special nooks on the property that really make it shine.

  • A fire pit set off from the main outdoor living space is a great way to finish the evening with some s'mores, a glass of wine or both!
  • An arbor bench makes a great little spot to relax with a book, or just to mindlessly stare off at a lovely view. A native vine grown over the top turns that arbor into a shady little getaway.

What are the features you've enjoyed at a vacation rental that made the space feel like a resort?

Kerrie Kelly is a California-based interior designer who writes on indoor and outdoor furniture for The Home Depot. Kerrie is the author of the popular book Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide. To view a large selection of outdoor furniture available for your patio and porch, including styles mentioned by Kerrie, you can visit the Home Decorators collection from Home Depot here.