What can you do to make your cottage rental stand out in advertisements, photographs, and overall appearance without busting your bank?  Here are some helpful hints to get you on the right path for adding value and not dropping a ton of dollars.  At the end of the day, you have to determine what the ultimate goals are going to be and the best way to accomplish them within an assigned budget.

1.  Establish a budget of both dollars and time.  You will need to make that initial decision before you begin, whether it is a newly purchased property, or one you’ve inherited from your family, or one you’ve had for a while and are looking to make some investments.

INDOORS:

2.  Fresh coat of paint always is a great beginning.  If helps eliminate the musty and mildew smell that some cottage rentals develop over the years.  It’s time and age and overall usage.  Choose colours that compliment whatever existing décor and furnishings you have, but nothing too dark or vibrant.  Natural tones are always best to keep things neutral and follow nature’s pallet.  Do it yourselves to cut back on costs, and if you have panelling, which many cottages do, considering painting them too.  You would be pleasantly surprised with the results.  YUP! You can paint panelling.  Just make sure you get a good quality primer and paint all in one, and give it some really good coats, don’t go cheap on the coverage!

3. What’s your lighting situation like?  Is hydro an option?  Maybe look at upgrading some of the lighting choices you’ve been using to give indoors a better appeal and more visibility.  Consider upgrading your orange and green mock Tiffany fixture with a more contemporary ceiling fan.  Add some indoor breeze and good lighting effects at the same time.  Change the old fashion lampshades in the living room area with something a bit more modern and paint the bases a nice sharp white.  Again, paint adds freshness, and the shades could modernise the feel of the cottage without replacement.  The best photos of the inside of the dwelling are where is great lighting, natural and artificial.

4.  What’s the flooring situation?  How old is the linoleum and carpeting?  If your budget does not have room for replacement of old carpeting, consider a good steam cleaning with some really strong carpet cleaner.  Febreze also makes a really powerful carpet cleaner/deodoriser that can help get rid of the dungy smelly odour.  Linoleum can be removed and/or covered with a more contemporary vinyl option that is fairly economical.  I would not suggest painting it.  And I would shy away from the peel and sticks.  Updating the flooring can often completely change the look and feel of a the dwelling, without a lot of money.

5. Less is more.  Some cottage rentals have way too many pieces of furniture and knick knacks, from the 60’s and 70’s when decorating was a bit more about how much you owned to make things look a bit busy, showcased your “wealth”.  Now it adds more to dust, liability for damages during cottage renting, and more opportunities for the spiders to create their lovely webs.  Consider a decluttering and reorganising the inside to reduce the amount of useless STUFF you have, and focus on what is really important, the functionality of the space.

OUTDOORS:
6. Declutter and cleanup:  mow the lawn, trim back some hedges, get rid of the trash, rotting wood has got to go, rake the perimeter… you get the idea.  The more thorough the clean up on the property, the better the results.  No one likes renting a cottage where there are old tires, or a rusty old bike to look at.  A day of work could make the difference in securing that.

7. Consider buying some annuals and planting some perennials—heck even consider poaching form another section of your own land!  Flowers go a long way and do not have to cost a lot.  In fact, other parts of your property could be a poacher’s paradise, if you know how to properly transplant partials from one end of the property to the other.  I’ve been poaching off of both of my home residence and my cottage rental for years.  Everything from, lavender, thyme, chives, tulips, hibiscus, snowflakes, the options are endless.  Again a bit of ingenuity and some physical effort can really pay off, without busting your wallet.  Make a list, get some containers, set the timeframe and plant it out.  You will love the results.

8. Consider pressure washing instead of paint or stain.  Sometimes renting a high powered pressure washer can do a better overall clean up of the deck boards, outer dwelling walls, and the stairs, then spending hundreds on covering dirty stain, or mossy paint.  It cuts a lot of cost, saves a lot of time, and really does an amazing job of making the outside of your dwelling, pathways, deck and dock look really clean.  It’s also really good for the wood to remove any moss or growth.  Then you can reseal the wood with the right sealant.  To stain or not stain becomes a personal decision once the deck has been pressure washed.  I’ve heard both arguments.  Sometimes the cost of the effort is so prohibitive people just let the wood go.  You still want to keep it clean and treated over the years to make it last the longest.

9. Perhaps creating a nice campfireor expanding on the existing one should be a “MUST DO”, this season.  Cottage rentals with a nice and safe sized campfire, adds a lot of value, and doesn’t cost more than a few dollars.  You need to ensure the location is safe, not near a lot of dead trees or bushy areas because of sparks.  You also need to ensure that you have made a pit big enough to avoid the root system that exists under you.  Add some limestone and then some crush.  The rocks that surround it can actually be poached off your land and create a wall.  They should be large enough to protect the fire from wind and some of the elements.  A campfire is an absolute MUST HAVE for value.

The idea here is elbow grease and physical labour.  The more effort and thoughtfulness you put into your updating and upgrading to your cottage rental, the more your guests, family and friends will love it!

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