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While on vacation, people often imagine what it would be like to live in their getaway location. Could they be happy living at the beach full time? What would it be like to experience living in another country for years, instead of a week or two? In an attempt to extend this natural thought experiment, some home furnishing retailers and brands have established vacation rentals equipped exclusively with their products, encouraging visitors to find ways to integrate the vacation décor back into their surroundings when they get home.

In a partnership with the popular VRBO platform, Home Depot has transformed a massive, seven-bedroom house in the Berkshire Mountains into a lakeside entertaining space. Interested guests will learn all about the paint palettes throughout the house, lighting options, and bedding collections—all of which are available for sale at Home Depot of course. But it isn’t as if the orange color scheme and industrial design that the retailer applies in its stores appears in the house. Rather, it has tapped of-the-moment designers and influencers to select the items that have been installed in the house, including Fariha Nasir (Pennies for a Fortune) and Holly and Brad Lauritzen (Our Faux Farmhouse).

Speaking of influencers and decorators, Chip and Joanna Gaines, famous for their Magnolia Homes renovation business and their Fixer Upper series on HGTV, maintain rental properties near Waco, Texas. In so doing, they can expand their reach and brand, by ensuring that the rentals reflect the homespun style and muted colors that the Gaineses have made famous and deeply popular through their show—and that are available for sale in their Magnolia retail stores and websites.

Rather than forcing visitors to make a separate visit to stores to purchase the items in their rental properties, HomeGoods repeatedly redecorates its two-bedroom house in the Hudson Valley. Thus, guests who stay can simply purchase the items installed in the space and take them home at the moment.

Whereas HomeGoods’ house functions mainly as a promotion, available for less than $30 per night, suites at the RH Guesthouse in Manhattan can run visitors $7500 for a one-night stay. The retailer (previously known as Restoration Hardware) spared no expense in designing an exclusive, luxury experience, with charcuterie boards instead of mini bars and sofas upholstered in Loro Piana cashmere. The Guesthouse is completely aligned with RH’s aesthetic, because “The entire concept was developed internally. We did the architecture, designed the space, developed the restaurants, created the menus, and conceptualized the guest experience.”

People love to bring home souvenirs from their vacations. For home furnishing retailers and brands, this desire represents a compelling reason to let people take home the very pillows, blankets, or design inspiration on which they slept.

Discussion Questions

  1. Would you want to stay in a house maintained by Home Depot? HomeGoods? Magnolia Homes? RH? Do your answers differ for the different brands?
  2. What channels could these retailers leverage to make it easier for consumers to purchase the items that furnish rental properties?

Sources: Matthew Stern, “Should Home Depot Go on Vacation with Its Customers?” Retail Wire, November 3, 2022; Dobrina Zhekova, “RH Just Opened a Stunning Hotel in NYC—and We Got a First Look,” Travel + Leisure, September 8, 2022; Ingrid Vasquez, “The Home Depot Has Built the Ultimate Fall Vacation Rental,” People, October 31, 2022