This article is brought to you by The Home Depot.

Vacation rentals present a few design challenges, but they also present great opportunities. On the one hand, property owners are generally looking hard at the budget. After all, they've got their own homes to design, furnish and accessorize. They also need to create a design for their rental property that's palatable to a wide array of guests, and they need to do that in a way that makes their guests feel like they're somewhere special, yet a little familiar.

One of the best ways to meet all those needs is with lighting. It's inexpensive and provides the nuance and necessities that can make a home away from home feel a little more like home.

Layer your Lighting

This is the insider tip that most of my clients are unaware of before we talk. The key to good lighting is to make sure it's working on a few different levels. When you weave together ambient, task and accent lighting, you have a lot of control to cover different moods and needs. That layering, though, is what creates the warmth that feels like home.

  • The best ambient light is natural light, so choose window coverings that maximize both light and privacy for your guests. Then make sure overhead lighting is available that offers warmth and general visibility with incandescent or CFL bulbs.
  • Task lighting is important in a vacation rental because this is a place where your guests finally get to crack that book that's been sitting on the nightstand at home for months, or sit down with a ball of yarn and some knitting needles and dream the day away. Floor and table lamps are the best solution here. Versatile and mobile, they also allow you to throw light both up and down, which is another effective layering technique.
  • Accent lighting allows you to throw some more light on the accessories and artifacts in the room that make your rental feel special.

Dominate with Dimmers

Simply put: Dimmers rule! They are the best, simplest and most effective way to take control of your lighting, which allows your guests to instantly create a mood that makes them feel like they're at home, or like they're somewhere completely different. Put dimmers in every room. Period. When possible, use table and floor lamps with 3-way switches to maximize ambiance on a more localized level.

Make it Match

A cohesive design can help a rental to feel like home. Our vacation rental clients are the first to admit that the design aesthetic there often began with mismatched hand-me-downs that tend to make guests feel like they got a place to stay, but not a home away from home. Where possible, begin to swap out the old with new pieces, colors and textures that complement each other.

Start with your lighting. Whether your rental begs more for the rustic look or the nautical look, there are lots of affordable and attractive fixtures and finishes to help you begin to bring it all together. Ceiling fans with built-in lighting are available in everything from traditional American wood with patina accents to palm leaf fans in crisp whites or wood tones and textures reminiscent of the South Pacific. Define your property's roots and grow from there.

Light Your Look on Fire

I confess that battery-operated candles fool me nearly every time. They're such a great safety solution for a vacation rental, and they add a soothing and romantic mood to any room where they're used. While we're on the subject, don't forget the fireplace, if you have one. Of course, you can't read by the firelight-or those candles for that matter-but this type of lighting makes everyone feel at home, even if the home they left doesn't even have a fireplace.

Pay Attention to the Kitchen

Kitchens are a big part of a renter's choice in a home. Just like you would at home, make sure there is bright and flexible general lighting (say it with me-dimmers!). Then, create a little romance with some simple puck lights installed under the cabinets. Under-cabinet lighting also makes great task lighting-especially when the task is indulging in a midnight snack without waking any fellow travelers.

How do you use lighting to make your rental house feel like a home?

Award-winning designer Kerrie Kelly is an interior lighting expert who writes for The Home Depot. Kerrie's interior design expertise for rental properties is focused on helping property owners create a maximum vacation experience. To view some of the lighting options Kerrie discusses in her article, you can visit the Home Depot website.