The Rise of Kitschy, Themed Vacation Rentals | Architectural Digest

Themed rooms come on a bit of a spectrum these days, ranging from one tasteful flamingo-print wall and chic, tufted sofa to full-blown pink fur everywhere. It sort of depends on how important words like “luxury” and “modern” are to you. As Margaret and Corey worked with the house’s owners, they had to balance their appetite for kitsch with what the owners felt would be more palatable. While Margaret insisted that just one fur wall wouldn’t cut it, she compromised on other aspects like toning down the plants in the green “jungle” room.

“We’d call it entry-level when it comes to themed rooms [and sought] to find something that’s themed but not too aggressive,” Margaret says. “We would think of some of our friends or family members who might be a little less into themes, who want things to feel clean and modern. What would they say if they stayed here?”

The green room was Margaret and Corey’s toned-down interpretation of the jungle theme common in honeymoon hotels. 

Photo: A Pretty Cool Hotel Tour/Margaret Bienert

“There were a few times where maybe I wanted more plants, and [the owners] would be like, ‘Well, I don’t want them to hit me in the face when I walk in,’ and I’d be like “OK, are you sure?” Margaret laughs.

Photo: A Pretty Cool Hotel Tour/Margaret Bienert

Grandpa’s Pool House leans a little further into a retro maximalist’s good time, with Astroturf, wig-wearing mannequins, ’70s-brown bathrooms, and lots of pool floaties. You can put on one of the Goodwill-bought wedding dresses laying around and jump in the pool. Similar to Margaret and Corey with The Rainbow Getaway and Haley’s Pastel Penthouse, Eva went into her project with zero construction experience but a very clear vision of escape and fun. She would listen to podcasts and YouTube videos, but most renovation and vacation rental advice doesn’t apply when you’re talking about fur on the walls and motorcycles in the basement.

“It was like, ‘Don’t keep too much crap out or it will get taken.’ I have crap everywhere,” Eva recalls. “Or like white towels, white sheets, you just want it simple, clean. That’s recommended. I realize that’s not the route I’m going.”

Ironically, these nostalgic escapes wouldn’t really be possible without the internet and social media. Before YouTube, where else would you learn how to cover a room’s walls in pink fur? Apps like Peerspace and platforms like Instagram spread the word to every fashion photographer or group of women in search of a bachelorette party destination. “I didn’t need any other third party to help me market it or get the word out,” Eva says. “Social media has done all of that work for me.”

The Rainbow Getaway’s daisy room was inspired by a pattern found on Society6, one of Margaret and Corey’s sponsors. “I don’t think we’ve done anything with yellow before,” Margaret told Clever about working with the home owner’s desire to have a yellow room. “That was just kind of a figure-out-a-way-to-make-it-work.”

Photo: A Pretty Cool Hotel Tour/Margaret Bienert