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Global Airbnb Design Diaries: Embracing the Essence of New Zealand

New Zealand – a land of stunning vistas, outdoor thrills, and unforgettable experiences. From the majestic fjords of Milford Sound to the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, this enchanting country has something for everyone. And what better way to soak it all in than through a cozy Airbnb stay nestled within the beauty of the land of the long white cloud?

Today, we are showcasing an Airbnb that was in a great location and had a lot of charm. However, there were quite a few things we would tweak to make the short-term rental design stand out from its competitors and wow guests. Let's dive into our most recent adventure and uncover the hits and misses of our New Zealand hideaway.

This small studio apartment was tucked away in a hidden garden in a small town on the top of the South Island called Nelson. The city is known for its outdoor adventure activities with access to many popular hiking trails and rock climbing locations. Understanding the city and what demographics it attracts will help you set a design style for your rent. Will it likely be young couples? Retired couples? Families? This space being a small studio in an adventure-packed area meant renters would likely be younger couples. So here are some areas where they nailed the design before we move on to our recommendations for improvements.


Storage Solutions: Our stay nailed it when providing smart storage solutions on a budget, ranging from open rods for versatile clothing storage to ample dresser space and bathroom storage for toiletries. When looking for a storage solution you don't have to break the bank and go for custom-made or large closet systems that are hard to assemble. Open exploded storage is super popular, functional, and great for small spaces! We especially appreciated the thoughtful consideration of keeping rods at a height accessible for all guests.

Pops of Color: even though the overall large pieces and wall paint colors were kept neutral and airy, the space was infused with personality and charm through vibrant wall art, throw pillows, blankets, and a welcoming entrance door color, creating a lasting impression that delighted the senses. We usually love a great Instagrammable wallpaper but if you are on a budget, unique wall art would also work. Also, if the outdoor views are the highlight of your location, show them off!

The Great Outdoors: With cozy patio seating and lush vegetation just steps away, our Airbnb provided the perfect setting to reconnect with nature and soak in those New Zealand vibes. Bonus: easy access to the garden made for serene mornings and enchanting evenings. The patio had direct access to the kitchen, making it a great spot for sunny morning breakfasts and romantic evening dinners!

Pro tip: if you have an outdoor space, think about different ways is lived throughout the day. From day BBQS and yoga sessions, to night drinks and date nights. Consider warm lighting to elevate the feel and create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.

Privacy, Please: In this home, the kitchen was an after-addition so having a half-wall separation struck the perfect balance between openness and privacy, while thoughtful privacy curtains ensured a peaceful night's sleep and a leisurely morning creating the perfect in-between indoor covered space with an outdoor feel.

Essential Supplies: From bathroom necessities neatly displayed for easy access to visible kitchen cleaning supplies, our hosts left no stone unturned when it came to ensuring our comfort and convenience.

Pro tip: always make the essentials easily accessible for your guests so they can lean on the go. Supplies can be stored in clear bins or labeled baskets for easy access and to avoid clutter.

Local Highlights: Magazines, books, and brochures galore! Our living area was stocked with resources to help us explore the local treasures, ensuring we didn't miss out on any of the magic New Zealand had to offer. We know it's all about social media nowadays but having a classic paper magazine or a book guide feels more rich and authentic.

Extra Seating: With extra chairs in the dining space, our hosts thoughtfully catered to our potential need for additional seating, ensuring everyone had a cozy spot to kick back and relax. Remember to always consider not only the amount of guests you have but also leave room for guests to come over when allowed.


Bedding Blues: Never underestimate the power of a great night's sleep and a luxe guest experience! Nothing worse than bad-quality towels and bedding. Investing in high-quality bedding can make all the difference in ensuring your guests have a truly restful retreat while creating that boutique hotel feel.

Living Room Layout: a large room with a lot of wasted space that felt empty and not cozy, leaving us longing for a more inviting space to unwind and socialize. Don't be afraid to get creative with your furniture arrangement to encourage conversation and connection.Pro tip: when you have the space, move your furniture away from the wall! you will be surprised how differently the room feels and how much more space you open to flexible storage such as consoles, ottomans, or accent walls.

Vanity Lighting: in this house, the vanity was located outside the bathroom space which is great if you have 2 people getting ready at the same time, but a good vanity light is a must! – a small but crucial detail that again, can make a pampering experience a complete nightmare. If you don't have access to power for a vanity light, consider getting battery-powered wall sconces that don't require any electrical work.

Lack of Theme: In a region such as New Zealand, nature is your best inspiration. When your property is located by a nice forest, beach, lake, or any beautiful landscape, bring those organic colors and textures indoors! Incorporating natural elements like rattan, wood, foliage, and stone could elevate the space and truly capture the essence of the region.

Workspace: While most travelers may be eager to disconnect, a small workspace can be a game-changer for those who need to stay connected. If space is an issue, consider incorporating a foldable table or pop-up coffee table to cater to all your guests' needs.

The takeaway

Our Airbnb journey in New Zealand took us on an exhilarating tour of the country's diverse lodging landscape, revealing a myriad of design styles, amenities, and guest experiences. Along the way, we discovered accommodations that left us enchanted with their charm, innovative designs, and delightful extras. However, we also encountered areas that could benefit from some enhancements to elevate the overall guest experience.

As vacation home designers, we love to look for inspiration and ideas to improve short-term rentals on a budget while not only creating a unique experience but also highlighting the best of what the location has to offer. With a bit of attention to detail and a willingness to make adjustments, hosts have the opportunity to create unforgettable stays that immerse travelers in the enchanting allure of this remarkable destination.

Keep in mind that we're available through our Airbnb styling services to assist you in bringing your vision to life so if you want to chat a bit more about your next property, you can schedule your call here. We have different short-term rental interior design packages that can work for you. For more pro tips on creating the perfect investment property, we suggest reading our article on Designing an Airbnb Plus Property, or you can also explore the benefits of hiring a professional designer for your next space on Top 3 Reasons Why 3D Design Is A Game Changer In The Real Estate Industry.  If you could use some extra support, don't hesitate to schedule a complimentary introductory call with us.

We're here to help, no matter where you are in the world!

See you later,

White Dahlia & STR Design Design Tea


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