“I love our house,” photographer Catherine Truman says with a big smile. “It’s located in a very up and coming part of East Nashville and is only 3 miles away from all the fun of downtown.” Location was key when Catherine purchased the cottage, as she planned to rent it out as an Airbnb. “Being on a quiet street with tons of great food, coffee shops and entertainment within just a few miles was a must for me and my guests,” she recalls. “And the character and style of the house was exactly what I was looking for.”

Catherine’s inspiration for the Cottage on Duke was “cozy cottage chic” — a style she’s perfected with this project. It’s comfortable and cozy, but has a modern flair with a few quirky details we love. “Making it reflect me and my husband’s personalities while also making the space fun for out-of-towners was a challenge, but I think we pulled it off,” she shares.

In the process of prepping the cottage to become a vacation rental, Catherine learned a few key things. If you’ve ever considered renting your home — or simply want to add a boutique hotel vibe to your space — you’ll want to bookmark her tips: 


1. Make the space like home for your guests. People want to feel like they are at their own house during a vacation. Creating traditional living, dining and kitchen spaces might seem like a no brainer, but it’s super important for your guests’ comfort. If they have to eat on the couch or cook in the living room, you might want to reconsider your design. Access to Netflix, reliable wifi and a well equipped kitchen are also essential! 

2. Getting good sleep on vacation is vital! Create an amazing sleeping experience for guests with high quality sheets and a good mattress, no matter what. 

3. Maximize the space. Create lots of seating and storage space for guests without making to too tight. Don’t assume that a piece of furniture will fit. Know your space and buy furniture that is just the right size. 

4. Make is personal without making it personal. Instead of keeping personal portraits in frames, consider using some of your favorite movie quotes, prints or celebrity posters to add some personality. Add some funky wallpaper from Society 6 to more bland spaces like the guest bath to spice things up! 

5. Use decor that creates experiences for guests. We used our record player as a focal point for our house and created a vinyl display to add interest to an empty wall. Guests are welcome to use the record player during their stay which creates a fun, tangible memory while they are there. 

6. Add some local flair. Use themed decor or local artists to add some interest. Since we live in Music City, USA, we tried to incorporate some more Nashville and music themed decor like a guitar, ukulele and a map of Nashville from Mapiful. Take into account where you live and create some decor specific to your city. 

7. Create a space for people to work. Many people need to work for at least a few hours during their vacation. Create a fun office space where they can hunker down, or make sure you have a kitchen or dining area that is laptop friendly. We highly recommend the Seno Dining Table from Article. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit for our space and provides the perfect area to work or eat. 

8. Lighting is key. Use lamps for extra style in your space and to create additional lighting to brighten up the room or set the mood.  Blinds and curtains are also important so guests can customize the lighting to fit their sleeping needs. We used Select Blinds because they have high-quality, custom blinds to fit every single window and door in your house.

9. Order furniture with durable fabric and removable cushion covers or replaceable upholstery. Our stunning Ivory Caitlin Sectional from Interior Define offered an additional set of cushion covers to use when our others get worn, and our amazing dusty rose chairs from Campaign have upholstery that is totally removable and replaceable when we’re ready to make a change. 

10. Use storage pieces to hide all your stuff. Nobody needs to see your shoe collection or tool set. Use storage pieces like cabinets, pantries or nightstands to put all your stuff away and create a tidy space. 

To book a stay at the Cottage on Duke, click here.