Jody Tucker
Vacation Rental

Remodeling Basement to Vacation Rental

After my basement living room remodel.

January 25, 2023

Iā€™m Jody.
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According to Strength Finders, I am a Learner. And, in the last three years as a Real Estate Agent in Minnesota, I have absorbed a lot of knowledge and experience in regards to real estate. I live in Duluth, MN. My real estate experience is in Duluth and the surrounding area. The market of short-term rentals intrigued me, and I wanted to learn more about the rules in Duluth. Upon exploring and making my own spreadsheet of everything I was learning, I looked up from my computer and said to my husband, “We could have a vacation rental in the basement of our house.” He thought that was a terrific idea. I continued researching and planning what we needed to do to make this epiphany a reality. All of a sudden, we weren’t just remodeling it for ourselves, but for the future vacation rental. I had already started the remodeling since we bought the house in August of 2021. In this post,
I share with you many of the remodeling projects with before and after photos and video.

Here’s a video of the basement before any renovations.

Here are some of the projects I did to create the vacation rental.

Wallpaper Removal

At this point, I started with taking the wallpaper down and painted the walls. For removing the wallpaper, I used the Wagner 915 Power Steamer (see video below). Note that I did not use any kind of solution on the wall ahead of time. I just used the machine and it was so very easy.

Wallpaper Removal

See the Wagner 915 Power Steamer in action on a wall I removed wallpaper.

The Carpet Must Go!

This basement was wall-to-wall hunter green shag carpet and some sort of brown plaid in the kitchen and main bedroom area. At the time, both were just empty rooms. I pulled up all the carpet and replaced it entirely with engineered hardwood flooring.


green shag carpet


After my basement living room remodel.

Fireplace Build

This large room can be a bit chilly at times in the winter and besides warmth, I wanted the vibe to be cozy and creative. I really wanted to create a wood feature using the herringbone pattern. In addition to the feature wall, I bought an electric fireplace for an in-wall mount. My husband, Joe, built the wall out for the fireplace in the living room. I finished the front of it with a colorful herringbone wood design on the upper portion, and with shiplap and a mantel on the lower portion. Love it!

fireplace and tv wall

Creating a Kitchen

As we started on the kitchen, it took a while to decide what type of appliances to put in it. My first idea was to have a hot plate and toaster oven with a tiny fridge. But, as I researched other Airbnb’s in the area, it just seemed like that best decision was to install full-sized appliances. To save on money and get something out of it for our upstairs kitchen, we bought a new stove for upstairs and brought the electric white stove downstairs. We purchased a refrigerator we found on clearance at a local appliance discount store. With the larger fridge, I had to remove the closet that was in that room and use it for the fridge. Presto! It was a perfect fit.

A Blank Canvas Kitchen

Carpet removed

hardwood floor installed

Fridge in closet

The cabinets were unfinished from Home Depot. I finished them during the summer with an antique white stain. In order to get the look and coverage that I wanted, it took more coats of the stain then I thought. I applied three coats and lightly sanded between them. I did not take any photos during that process šŸ™

We hired a plumber to install the sink after I cut the hole in the butcher block. We just went with a small sink as I figured people wouldn’t be doing a lot of dishes.


After remodel of kitchen

Bedroom Creation

Once the kitchen was completed, I moved onto the main bedroom. Originally, the main bedroom wasn’t a bedroom at all, but a sitting room and entrance to the basement. It has two sets of legal windows, a large closet, and the patio door. So, I turned it into a bedroom. We needed the large bedroom in the back of the basement for our office anyways, so we desperately needed space for a queen bed. Aside from the entrance being in the bedroom, it is perfect. I added an electric fireplace to help make it cozy. We have received wonderful reviews about the fireplace in the bedroom!

I am just OVER THE MOON about my closet renewal. I took the doors off, sanded them, added trim to make them resemble a barn door, and used my paint sprayer, a Wagner Flexio 2500 Paint & Stain Sprayer with the paint color from Sherwin Williams. It was their Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel with Satin sheen in the Sher-Color “Cyberspace”. This was the same color I used throughout the unit. In addition to the closet doors, I also used it on the dining table and the blue colored kitchen cabinets.

Closet Doors BEFORE & AFTER

Before and after closet doors

Main Bedroom

The main bedroom received the hardwood flooring. I primed and painted the ceiling and replaced the lights with LED bulbs. I hired a contractor to replace the patio door. It was in dire need for being replaced. We also moved the french doors to the entrance of this room. It seemed more logical. Here are the before photos, then the current photos. Love it!

Main bedroom before remodel

Main bedroom

airbnb main bedroom

Thinking About Opening an Airbnb?

Here are a few things to consider:

1. The type of unit will you open. Will it be a shared unit or a separate/stand-alone building?

2. How often will it be available for rent? Will it be a part-time short-term rental (STR), or full-time?

3. Learn and understand the types of licenses and rules for your location. Some areas are more strict with licenses and some are more lenient. Every state has it’s own rules, laws and what taxes apply.

3. Who will manage it? Will you hire a company or do it yourself?

4. What will the VIBE be? Think about the type of city it’s located. Is it a coastal city, urban, rural or woodsy, southern? What sort of theme could be integrated? Think of the art pieces, furniture, and type of amenities for the overall styling. Check out my post on Styling Your Airbnb for more ideas.

5. Lastly, will you advertise it on multiple platforms or just one? There is Airbnb, VRBO, and others. Just google it and you’ll find more. But, Airbnb and VRBO are the main ones. Do your research on each one. Ask friends/family who travel which platform they prefer. Try using each one for your own travel.

We are so happy we have had this opportunity to open the vacation rental. We have it on Airbnb and VRBO. Honestly, we get more bookings from Airbnb. In the first month, we made enough income to pay the mortgage! We have had consistent bookings since we opened.

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Jody Tucker has been a MN Licensed Real Estate Agent for 4 years. She has a strong love for homes and for helping join people with the perfect home that suits their lifestyle. 

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