Whenever I’m helping a client update their vacation rental, I often see spaces that have been outfitted with hand-me-downs and leftovers, which creates a dated look—especially in the kitchen. While not everyone can spend big bucks on renovating a second home, a refreshed kitchen can be a real draw for potential guests.
The good news? You can bring your kitchen into the 21st century without investing a lot of time and money. We’ve got six simple solutions for upgrading your rental property’s kitchen that will make it more enjoyable—both for you and your guests.
Update Your Vacation Rental's Kitchen!
1. Don’t Replace—Reface!
One of the most efficient and economical ways to update your kitchen is to reface your cabinets. This can usually be done inside of a week for less than half the cost of new cabinets. In order to keep that outmoded look from happening again, choose sleek and simple fixtures, and skip the detailing that could date your kitchen down the road. Take the same approach with the cabinet faces themselves—flat front or shaker style doors are your best bets to survive the test of time.
2. Reconsider Your Counters.
For roughly the cost of replacing your cabinets entirely, you can likely reface those cabinets AND install new countertops. In a high traffic situation like the kitchen of a vacation rental, I recommend quartz. It’s available in so many colors and patterns, it’s easy to clean, and it’s resistant to burns, scratches and stains. A soft gray or a simple white will never look dated. Best of all, my clients are usually surprised at how affordable it is.
3. Coordinate with Color.
Fresh paint is one of the smartest choices you can make in any type of remodel or facelift. It’s inexpensive and it has a huge impact on the look of any space. In kitchens, people often look for “light and bright” or “cool and clean.” Of course, with a vacation rental, it depends on the setting. If you’re working with a mountain cabin, you might lean toward warm and cozy hues. Just avoid creating a space that feels closed in by colors that are too bold, deep or dramatic for the space.
4. Good Lighting = Good Looking.
Lighting is so important in the kitchen, in terms of both function and feel. This, too, is a relatively inexpensive upgrade. Consider can lights, installed at strategic spots over work spaces. They create mood and style, and make for excellent task lighting. Supplement with some simple LED puck lighting under the cabinets for even more task lighting, and consider a couple of beautiful statement pendant lights over the counter or island.
5. Make a (Back)splash.
If you find that your guests really spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, then going the extra mile for a splashy new backsplash could really pay off. To continue with the timeless look, try a half splash that brings the counter top surface up onto the wall about halfway. If you’re going for a full splash, consider softer, more muted patterns in traditional textures like porcelain and stone in order to keep that timeless theme going. Large format, white subway tile is a classic. Another of my favorites is a herringbone tile pattern in a soft stone. Combined with a cabinet refacing project, a new backsplash can truly transform a tired kitchen into a modern marvel.
6. Upgrade the Appliances.
This may be a “phase two” situation, but of course, one of the reasons people choose rentals over hotels is the ability to prepare meals at home. You don’t need a six-burner professional cooktop (though it could be a reasonable suggestion if your rental sleeps 10 or more), but consider upgrading to stainless steel, which brings a modern and functional feel to any design style. If that’s not an option, I recommend all white for its clean simplicity.
Have you refaced cabinets or found other ways to update your rental’s kitchen without breaking your budget? What upgrades do you think your guests are looking for? Let us know!
This article was written by by Kerrie Kelly, ASID.
Interior designer Kerrie Kelly writes on kitchen décor, including cabinets, for The Home Depot. Kerrie is the author of the books Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide and My Interior Design Kit. Click here for more from Home Depot's kitchen cabinet refacing services.