They say that there’s no place like home, but – when you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle – there’s no place like a secluded retreat in the woods. With this in mind, one family’s private ski chalet in the Beaver Valley woods should have been a vacation rental home run, but its outdated (and sometimes unsafe) interiors were holding it back. To rejuvenate the property, real estate expert and contractor Scott McGillivray used his vacation house rules to transform the chalet into an epic all-season hideaway.
Meghan and Ryan’s chalet in the beautiful Beaver Valley had been in the family for over 20 years, but it had never been in a state that they could rent to anyone but friends. Now that Meghan’s parents were both retired, however, they wanted to fix up the vacation home so the family could continue to enjoy it – and generate rental income from the property. With a $75,000 budget (and his vacation house rules), Scott saw serious potential to make the family’s dreams a reality.
Before the Reno
A vacation home rental in the Beaver Valley gives renters an adventure-ready escape any time of the year – with kilometres of beaches to explore in the summer, stunning foliage in the fall and amazing ski resorts in the winter. To capitalize on this all-season appeal, Scott used his first rule, “Do Your Research.” Scott researched the area and found that the average rental rate for a four-bedroom property was $350 per night. With that high rental potential available, Scott knew that – with the right updates – the chalet could be flowing in rental income.
To optimize this vacation home’s full potential, Scott’s second rule, “Plan Your Design,” was key. Because the goal was to revitalize the property – taking it from a disorganized cottage into a deluxe ski chalet – Scott and designer Debra Salmoni centred the renovations and decor around a cozy adventure-seeker theme. In the living room, for example, Debra used rich wood finishes with bright whites on the walls and ceiling for a fresh, cozy feel.
Aesthetics aside, safety should always be the top priority in your vacation house design – especially when you’re planning to rent it out. The chalet had numerous danger zones that had to be addressed, from unsafe open-railing lofts in the bedrooms to an open upstairs landing that was an accident waiting to happen. For the landing, Scott built a stylish wooden barrier with vertical slats. The hand-made upgrade was a cost-effective solution that accentuated the design while letting light flow through – and simultaneously serving as a major safety upgrade.
Room to Dine
When you have a larger vacation rental, you need to give your guests a place to gather and eat together. The old kitchen looked rough around the edges, but it also lacked a proper dining space. To solve this problem, Scott built a sleek new kitchen, complete with large banquette seating that saves space while also accommodating large groups of renters.
A Sunny Idea
To stand out from other vacation rental listings, Scott’s third rule, “Get Noticed,” came into play: To get booked, you need to showcase the features that make a property unique. For Meghan and Ryan’s family chalet, the distinctive architecture and epic views are what set it apart – so Scott transformed the old incomplete side deck into a spectacular custom sunroom. This enclosed sunroom enhanced the chalet’s curb appeal (thanks to a angular roof design that accentuated the chalet’s architectural lines) while providing much-needed additional space for dining and lounging – and allowing renters to enjoy the natural setting of the chalet in any weather.
The living room’s large fireplace is one of the main centrepieces of the chalet, and having dry firewood ready and on hand is necessary for a great rental experience. So, with his fourth rule, “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” in mind, Scott called on the whole family to come out and help collect and chop wood. By having the family do this kind of unskilled work to prepare their rental, they cut down on costs while feeling more prepared to take on renters in the property.
A Welcoming Entrance
If you want positive reviews and repeat bookings, you have to think about the rental experience from start to finish – which is Scott’s final rule, “Be Your Guest.” Debra ensured that guests will be welcomed with a clear theme, chic feel and great first impression the moment they walk in the door with the updated mudroom. Bright and clean, the new mudroom features a vintage toboggan that Debra converted into a playful coat rack.
A Second Shower
Previously, the only shower in the chalet was beside the master bedroom – which would guarantee an inconvenient experience for the downstairs guests. To rectify this and put guests first, Scott borrowed space from one of the bedrooms to add a full shower to the downstairs powder room – a must for a rental that sleeps 10. And, to make the downstairs shower feel more luxe and on theme, the team installed unique acrylic panels that resemble rustic wood planks.
Shut the Door
The old master bedroom had an incredible view of the outdoors, but no bedroom door – and, thus, no privacy. While the family had made it work over the years, a master bedroom with no door isn’t ideal from a renter’s perspective. A sliding barn door keep the room to theme while providing privacy, so the master could feel like a dreamy retreat.