Decorating Dilemmas, Personal Life Posts, Travel

How NOT to Decorate a Rental Property (My Cabin Weekend)

This past weekend my good friends and I celebrated 10 years of friendship with a girls’ weekend away at a cabin.  The first few years, when we were all working together at the vet hospital and living in the same town, we went camping all the time, either in tents or in rustic log cabins with no running water or electricity.

This time, however, the new mother of twins needed electricity & a fridge so she could pump and store milk for the babies.  So we went with a more modern cabin.  Modern being relative. . .

In my various cabin rental experiences over the last few years, I determined that the majority of vacation cabin owners do not understand how to decorate, especially when going for that “rustic” feel.

1.  Less is More, not More is More. 

Empty wall space doesn’t need to be covered with clutter.  Every wall of the cabin had random pieces of art hanging on it – as though every time the owner found more framed art at the thrift store they tried to fit it somewhere on the wall.  And not in a nice “gallery wall” way.

There was also a lot of random decor taking up space, like a little dish of stones and flower pots on top of an unused wicker box in the bathroom.  Bizarre.

Bathroom Decor Clouds Cabin Luray VA

2.  Ditch the Fake Flowers & Vines. 

Many of the mountain vacation homes had fake flowers and vines in their photos.  Winding around the ceiling.  Tacked to the wall. Trailing over the otherwise cool wood-beam mantel.

Fireplace Clouds Cabin Luray VA

Do you know what I think when I see fake flowers? Dust.  Lots and lots of dust.  And in some cases, they get in the way of actually being able to put your stuff down when you’re staying:

Fake Flowers In Rental Cabin Bedroom

Decor in one of their other properties.

3.  Stickers Are Not a Decorative Accent.   I was marveling at the more than 12 pieces of framed art hanging in the small bathroom when suddenly I noticed . . . there were stickers all over the electrical panel.  Placed upon it as if to disguise the fact that there was, in fact, a fuse box over the toilet.

A Team Cabin 2013 Oct 5

Trust me when I say that a beige fuse box over the toilet was the least of the cabin’s decor issues.

4. Using 5 different types of fake wood paneling does not equal rustic.

The stairway was paneled in what looked like veneer plywood, stained dark brown. It looked pretty sweet.  Unfortunately there were 4 other types of wood paneling used – some painted, some not.  Just keep it simple and consistent, people!

The Good Parts:

I’m definitely being a bit dramatic about the decor, but all three of my friends agreed it was a bit ridiculous. There were definitely some good aspects to this cabin.

It was cozy but spacious enough for us 4, it was dog friendly (huge plus!), had clean and comfy leather sofas, and there would have been an awesome view had it not been pouring down rain all weekend.  Most importantly, there was a roomy hot tub outside in the woods that we enjoyed, even in the constant rain:

Hot Tub Clouds Cabin Luray VA

And, when you’re with good friends, you really can enjoy anything.  And so we did.  We visited 6 wineries (over two days), enjoyed some fires in the wood stove, and had a blast despite the rain – and the ugly curtains surrounding us. 🙂

Virginia Winery A Team

A Team Cabin 2013 Oct 4

But I have to admit I look forward to renting a rustic, no electricity, peeing-in-the-woods cabin again in the future.

If you want to pay $250 a night, and still have to bring your own bed sheets, pillows, towels, dish towels, firewood, matches, kindling, and toilet paper, you can find the property (and others!) here

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  • Reply Funnelcloud Rachel at 10:25 am

    Now I know what to do with that unsightly electrical panel in my studio – thanks!!!

  • Reply Running to the MountainThe Borrowed Abode: Decorating a rental home | The Borrowed Abode: Decorating a rental home at 9:59 am

    […] it was easily one of the best cabins we’ve ever rented.  It had a fire place, it wasn’t tacky, and it had real wood paneling […]

  • Reply Caryl Anne at 4:38 pm

    I agree that most of the items listed above are decorative pieces that should never be used in a home or rental. To me, they are unsightly to the eye and can make the piece of property look cheaper or unimportant. Thanks for sharing!

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