The “Holiday Home Rules” Reveal the One Thing Guests Like to See

Scott McGillivray of Vacation House Rules knows that there is one thing every guest loves on a getaway: a breathtaking view. And the lakeside cabin that he and his team are renovating in the latest episode, “Bird’s-Eye View,” offers a magnificent view of the woods and water below. So far, so good!

Yet this two bedroom, one bathroom property in Canada also poses many problems. And since the owners Brian and Tara only have $ 115,000 to fix it, McGillivray and designer Debra Salmoni know they will have to be smart with their budget.

Here’s how they turn this ramshackle cabin into a must-see vacation destination, which includes plenty of inexpensive tips for your own abode.

Draw attention to the front door

Before: Customers probably wouldn’t know it was the front door.


When McGillivray first sees this house, he immediately sees a big problem: the main entrance is just a single door on the side of the building, which is odd. There is no defining characteristic for telling guests, “You are here! And it doesn’t sound very welcoming.

“As a vacation rental property we want it to be simple, we want it to be clear,” MicGillivray said of the entry. He decides to add to the front door to make it stand out.

After: Now it is clear that this is the main entrance.


“I bought a front gantry kit, which is inexpensive and looks great,” he says. “It works for any standard front door, but it will define it as the main entrance, so when guests arrive it’s obvious.”

The portico ends up defining the entrance, making it look less like an awkward side door. McGillivray loves this feature because it makes the home a lot more welcoming.

Add a mural? Choose a theme

Front: The main entrance leads directly to an unfinished basement.


Once inside the entrance, McGillivray is shocked to find that it leads directly to an unfinished basement. Of course, this needs to be changed!

McGillivray wants to make sure that guests open the door to a welcoming space. So after adding two bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement, he adds a 7-by-7-foot photo of the lake on the entry wall.

It’s a fun and meaningful feature, and as Salmoni explains, it’s an easy upgrade.

After: Now the guests are greeted by a beautiful view.


“Any image can be made into wall art, the higher the resolution the better,” she says. “There are a lot of companies online that do murals. Basically all you have to do is find the business, upload your image, and then it is delivered to your door.

Paint pine for a modern look

pine walls
It is very possible to have too much pine.



While McGillivray spends a large chunk of his budget on finishing the basement, he knows that the main living space requires a lot of work as well.

The space is covered with pine, from the kitchen to the walls to the ceiling, and even the paneling.

“Pine is fine, but I think you’ve doubled down,” McGillivray tells the owners.

pine walls
It is important to break up the wood tones.


McGillivray decides to keep the pine, but he paints the walls to break up the wood tones with a little something different.

This paint job is awesome because it brightens up the living room without taking away the texture. Now the room is more modern and has a more subtle style.

“We want to make the sight the star of the show,” says McGillivray, “that’s what tenants pay for. “

Paint rather than replace kitchen cabinets

These dated cabinets needed a lick of paint.


A little paint transforms this living room, so McGillivray decides to give the kitchen the same treatment by sanding and painting the cabinets instead of replacing them.

After painting the kitchen looks much fresher – no new cabinet is required!


“One of my favorite things about this property is that we’ve taken over most of the cooking,” says McGillivray. “If we had to replace everything, we would have had to spend twice as much. “

When the kitchen is finished, it’s hard to believe these are the original cabinets. This blue paint is a great choice for design and budget.

Want the counters to last? Get quartzite

kitchen counter
This quartzite countertop is inexpensive, but it still looks great.


While McGillivray may be able to salvage the kitchen cabinets, he knows he can’t keep everything. Salmoni chooses a new quartzite countertop with gray veins.

“I love using quartzite in rental properties,” says Salmoni. “It’s a beautiful material; it is durable, maintenance free; and it looks spectacular.

The problem with quartzite is that it can be a bit pricey: the spaces in this tiny kitchen cost $ 5,000. However, since this is a rental property, McGillivray and Salmoni want the kitchen to be durable and easy to clean. So the cost is well worth it in the long run.

How is this holiday home?

When McGillivray first arrives, he explains that cabins in this area usually go for $ 300 a night. However, after spending $ 115,000 on the renovation, McGillivray estimates that this house will be rented for $ 430 a night.

With an expected occupancy of 33% per year, this property could potentially earn $ 48,000 per year. The owners are delighted not only to make a nice profit, but also to enjoy their new cabin on their own!

About Brad S. Fulton

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