My parents have a cabin “up north” in Michigan's lower peninsula that has served our family well for years. As our family has grown and evolved, so too has our pursuit of the perfect northern getaway to suit our needs. My brother purchased a second cabin in a different part of the state. It's larger and a stone's throw from the permanent residence of other family members. My immediate family doesn't need two cabins, so we plan to sell the log cabin. While we wait for the cottage to sell, we listed the property as a vacation rental on VRBO.com.
My dad isn't exactly what you would refer to as being tech savvy. When he first heard about VRBO from a coworker that lists his family vacation home on the site to generate a small income, he called me first. He told me to “look into it,” which is code for Maria, I really want to put our property online, but I don't know how so I would like you to take care of it. I told my dad I would gladly help with this little side business under one condition: I wanted an opportunity to purchase new bedding and accessories to freshen up the styling of the cabin's interior.
You see, I'm a very particular customer when it comes to selecting vacation lodging. If I'm paying to sleep somewhere, I want the atmosphere to feel special and personal. A boring, generic hotel room will not suffice (and neither will a place that seems dingy). Whenever we plan for an upcoming trip, Rob and I scour the internet looking for the perfect place to stay. I've been so excited about our sleeping arrangements when we had our honeymoon in Naples, visited the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, traveled to Nashville and our most recent anniversary getaway to Saugatuck. If I was going to open the doors to our family's cabin to guests, I wanted to create a space that would make our guests as excited about their visit as I am about the lodging I select when I travel.
This is how I fell into my other, other online job of rental property management.
Just a quick note before I get too carried away: there are a few affiliate links that are relevant to the content contained in this post. Including one for VRBO. If you make a purchase through one of our links or decide to list your property as a vacation rental on VRBO, we receive a small commission, which helps to support the blog.
Now where was I?
Ah, yes. My newest online endeavor as the manager of a vacation rental.
I spent six weeks scouring the internet and visiting local stores looking for affordable bedding, linens and other items that were unique, but affordable. I scoured the local Home Goods and TJMaxx looking for pieces with a cabin feel. I purchased items by the carload and dragged them to my parents' house for them to see.
I couldn't even begin to think about listing the cabin until it was properly furnished and I had photos in-hand for the listing. Remember that trip Rob and I made to Mackinac Island in October? While we were having a Halloween adventure, my parents stopped by to tidy up. They made all the beds and my mom perfectly executed the vision I had for styling. They left Sunday morning and a few hours later, Rob and I swung by the cabin on the way home from the island so I could see how it all came together and snap some photos for the listing.
A Look Inside the Cabin
Since purchasing the cabin, my Dad worked hard to renovate, expand and update the cabin. The layout is completely unique and the cabin certainly tells a story. The current living room was the origin of what began as a one-room dwelling owned by a logging baron on a small lake. Some of the cabin's original logs are a visible feature to the living room and they give the space a unique rustic charm. As ownership changed hands throughout the years, different rooms have been added onto the cabin.
The first addition: a kitchen/bathroom … in a tiny little space. It's so hard to conceive of that space being anything other than the cozy little sleeping area that it is today. I think I prefer the cozy bedroom to the thought of bathing and preparing food in the same room.
The next major renovation was a substantial one. A proper kitchen and adjoining bathroom were added to the cabin.
We aren't certain, but we guess that the back bedroom was added around the same time.
At this point, the cabin had sort of a strange shape. The two ends of the cabin were extended and there was empty space in the middle. My parents placed the final addition on the cabin. They constructed a bedroom in that space and added a larger deck to the back of the house. Here's a simple diagram of the cabin's layout. I'm sure it's not to scale, but you get the idea.
It's funny that this was the last bedroom added onto the cabin because it feels very much like it is the “master” bedroom.
My parents, Rob, and I headed up to the cabin a few weeks ago to rake leaves and prepare the property for summer guests. It was my first time sleeping at the cabin in a very long time and I must admit that the cabin is far nicer now that it ever was when our family used it on a regular basis. I accomplished my goal of creating a vacation rental that was an special experience for the guest – even if I'm the guest.
Rent Our Family Cabin
If you are planning a visit to Michigan's northern lower peninsula, our cabin may be the perfect fit for your family. It's located in Waters, right off exit 270 for I-75; which is 15 minutes outside of Gaylord. It's also an hour from Mackinaw City or Petoskey and 75 minutes away from Traverse City. Our cabin is normally priced at $125 a night, but I can pull a few strings as the property manager and discount the rate for blog readers to $100 a night. We have a three-night minimum and additional fees still apply (all of which are standard for the industry). To get the discounted rate, I just need to know that you are a blog reader. You can “send an email” through VRBO with the dates you would like to stay and I'll send you a custom rate quote if you mention that you follow Crazy Together or just email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll walk you through the process.
And just in case you are wondering, yes the cabin is also for sale. :) You can drop me an email at email@example.com and I'll answer any questions you have about that as well. It really is a lovely little cabin and it is so much better than the outdated place with dark brown paint it was when we first purchased the cottage.
List Your Vacation Home On VRBO
And if you also own a vacation home that you simply aren't getting enough use out of, you might want to consider listing it on VRBO. You can select exactly which days it is available to rent so you can enjoy your cabin for part of the summer and monetize the property while you are away.
On a last note, I have to give another shout-out to our little point and shoot camera. I'm not sure if you've ever tried to take a photo of wood paneled rooms, but they tend to either be incredibly dark or completely glow in a less-than-lovely intense yellow color. I tried shooting these photos with our very fancy DSLR, my iPhone 6 and our Sony point-and-shoot. The little Sony camera has become my tool of choice for photographing home interiors (in addition to food photos).