Owning a secondary building on your property should be an ideal opportunity for short-term vacation rentals – especially in an idyllic area like Prince Edward Country. When a couple found they weren’t doing their historic Picton carriage house justice (or bringing in any renters), contractor and real estate expert Scott McGillivray used his vacation house rules to transform the outdated, unused space into a must-rent retreat with a distinctive equestrian theme.
When Laura and Dale purchased their Picton home, they saw its historic carriage house as a potential money-maker. However, after spending all their time and energy working on the main home’s renovations, the outdated one-bedroom carriage house stayed vacant – which meant they were losing out on potential rental income with each passing season.
Armed with his first vacation house rule, “Do Your Research,” Scott saw a significant market opportunity: Located in an area that’s popular for its historic small towns, vineyard tours and adjacent water, the carriage house had the potential to be a sought-after vacation property. With one-bedroom listings in the area renting for about $250 per night, the carriage house could bring in serious rental income. Using the couple’s $55,000 renovation budget, Scott and his team got to work on this abandoned opportunity.
Split the Space
With one overly-large bedroom and an odd layout, the carriage house wasn’t using its full potential. In order to better use the square footage, Scott reconfigured the space – splitting the enormous bedroom into two equally sized rooms for increased occupancy (and thus more potential rental income), and closing off the mid-room staircase to create a feature wall.
Set in Stone
Reconfiguring the space was a major upgrade – but a functional layout works best when it’s paired with thoughtful design. With this in mind, Scott called on designer Debra Salmoni. Debra gravitated towards details that paid homage to the carriage house’s original charm and character, like adding a wood material to the ceiling. And, when faced with a massive fireplace, Debra opted to paint the stones in the same grey as the walls for a stylish but budget-friendly, time-saving solution.
From Frumpy to Functional
To attract renters, the kitchen needed to be stylish and functional – with everything easy to find and straightforward to use. To achieve this, the team rearranged the awkward kitchen layout (moving the sink and adding a much-needed peninsula for prep space and seating) added sleek new appliances and installed renter-friendly open shelves.
For a vacation rental property to be successful, it has to bring in renters – which is why Scott’s third rule, “Get Noticed,” is so important. The easiest way to get attention? Incorporate a clear, tasteful theme to the property, as themed rentals rank high on search engines. Luckily for the carriage house, the historic property came with an obvious marketing concept: horses. Inside, Debra and Scott played to the theme by using equestrian-inspired details – and by creating a feature wall complete with a vintage saddle to drive home the theme.
Winds of Change
Outside, Scott saw an opportunity to showcase the house’s historic character by revitalizing a unique original element – a rooftop cupola that was likely over a hundred years old. Restored and freshly painted, the cupola was topped with a custom horse-themed weathervane that Scott commissioned local blacksmiths to design and forge.
makes an impact on renters, so Scott found a few other ways to enhance the house’s heritage charm from the outside. First, he enlisted landscapers to build a path and perennial garden to create a charming entryway. Next, because Dale and Laura had hands-on experience with renovations, he asked them to put his fourth rule, “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” to work – having them restore a pair of vintage carriage house doors. By doing this work themselves, the couple was able to save some money for other areas of the reno.
A Luxe Experience
Scott’s final rule, “Be Your Guest,” guided the finishes and touches used throughout the property. By putting yourself in your renters’ shoes, you can ensure guests will have a great experience – which will lead to positive reviews, repeat bookings and more profit. In the bathroom, for example, Scott created a spa-like experience (and helped ensure year-round comfort) by installing heated floors.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Rest and relaxation is critical for a great vacation, so it was also important to focus on the details in the bedrooms. While splitting the large bedroom into two bedrooms ensured more people could stay in the carriage house, Debra and Scott thought about other details to help ensure a good night’s sleep – Scott used sound-dampening insulation to help renters in both rooms sleep better, while Debra used high-quality linens on the beds for instant comfort.