Design Considerations When Buying An Investment Property

Glass Piggy Bank Terrarium
When it comes to buying an investment property, there are decisions to be made beyond the right home in the right location.

Buying an investment property is a major decision. Not only is it vital to choose the right home in the right area, but it’s very likely the home will need to be renovated. If the property will be used as a short-term rental, it must also be furnished. When working with design changes, there are many key decisions to be made. Creating a beautiful space while staying on budget can be challenging, but fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. I spoke with some of the top interior designers and experts nationwide to learn what the most important design considerations are when buying an investment property. Whether you’re in the market for a single-family home, condo, a new build, or a fixer-upper, read on before you submit your next offer.

Make As Many Decisions As Possible Upfront

Renovating an investment property is a major undertaking. So, Annie Elliott, Product and Design Manager for New Again Houses, a company that transforms old houses into fantastic modern homes, says it’s best to plan all the major changes and make as many design decisions as far in advance as possible. “Making design choices at the front end of your project is incredibly helpful for streamlining the process as well as staying on budget,” she says. “Sure, there are always things you’ll want to change throughout the process, but by making most of your decisions early you can focus on completing them efficiently and affordably during the renovations.”

Consider The Floorplan

Whether you are buying an investment property for long or short-term rental, ask yourself whether the floorplan is logically designed and can be changed if need be. “Questions like ‘Can I easily add another bedroom or bathroom to increase appeal and salability?’ and ‘Could this space be made to feel more open,’ are both good places to start,” Elliott explains.

Floor Plan Drawings

When looking at a floorplan, take into consideration if there is potential for renovating and enlarging a property.

Prioritize The Kitchen

A renovated kitchen is always attractive to all types of renters. Long-term tenants appreciate the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a good kitchen, while short-term tenants, particularly in investment properties designed for families and extended stays may also desire an upgraded kitchen to make mealtimes easier.

“Kitchens are key decision factors in most real estate transactions, and renters feel the same way. If the kitchen feels dated, start by investing in upgrading appliances, tile, and countertops,” says Audrey Scheck, Founder of Audrey Scheck Design. “Crowds tend to gather in kitchens which is why they are top of mind for most of us. You’ll never go wrong investing in kitchen upgrades. They have a great return on investment, even in rental properties.”

Floorplan and light should also be considered. “Whether a kitchen has good flow, whether there’s plenty of natural light and whether there is good access to outdoor space are also good places to focus your attention. You always want to see what the existing structure can offer you; try not to overcomplicate it. Try to work with what you have by making functional and feasible improvements that make a property feel light, clean, and natural,” says Elliott.

Vintage Midcentury Leather Sofa Couch

A simple space will age gracefully as opposed to the latest, trendy design.

Opt For Durable Finishes And Furniture

Choosing durable finishes and furniture is key for investment properties designed for vacation, Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rentals. “Get comfortable balancing between aesthetic and durability! Whether you plan on renting your property long or short term, you’ll want to design the space with a specific aesthetic in mind to attract your ideal client,” says Sheck. “Once you have a design plan in place, source pieces that can withstand wear and tear. Investment pieces should be reserved for your primary residence, and your investment property should be outfitted with pieces that are more practical.”

Go For Timeless Aesthetics

While the latest trends may attract renters in the short term— in the long term, very trendy finishes can end up looking dated. So the latest and greatest could be something you end up regretting in the years to come. “Keep it simple to avoid creating a space that’s too trendy. Adding ornate and stylistic updates can be time-consuming and fruitless. Keeping rental property remodels simple will save you time and money, and it will help you attract clients regardless of what’s in style,” says Scheck.

Consider Keeping The Original Details

Acclaimed designer Sasha Bikoff of Sasha Bikoff Interior Design tells me that keeping the original details of a property can give it an edge in today’s market. “I believe that people are really starting to have an eye for original details and unique design features that will give their property an edge,” she says. “Whether its original floors, cast-iron columns, stained glass, or fireplace mantels— anything from the past combined with new gives an investment property a certain intellectual and worldly cache.”

Black Medallion Moulding

Original details can help add character to a space.

Focus On Updates That Take Up The Most Visual Square Footage.

Whether you have a budget or are on a time crunch, Sheck suggests choosing updates that will have the most visual impact.  “If you are trying to stay within a budget and want the entire space to feel elevated and cohesive, start by updating the flooring or doing a full interior repaint,” the designer explains.

She also recommends installing wallpaper. “Larger scale transformations like these tend to elevate the perception of a space because they encompass so much of what we’re visualizing regardless of which room we’re in.”

Avoid Spending Too Much Money On Decor

Montecito-based luxury interior designer and decorator Margarita Bravo believes allocating too much of your budget to decor can be the wrong decision when decorating an investment property. “If you’re looking to use the property as a rental, you want to make sure the decor is elevated but not overly expensive. You’ll need to source pieces that pop on camera without breaking the bank, in case of damages,” she says.


I am a writer, design expert, host of the podcast Bougie Adjacent, and comedic performer. I am absolutely fascinated by all aspects of décor and design. It once took me six months to choose a soap dispenser and I can’t even remember what it looked like. I like bright prints, southern exposure and any location you can call a “village or town.” There are currently over 100 episodes of House Hunters on my DVR.