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A Guide to Furnishing an Airbnb

by Ava-Rose Calderon

When you invest in an Airbnb, it’s exciting to think about earning income from a property that you own.  It’s also somewhat overwhelming if you’ve just acquired the property or you’re transforming one you already own into a short-term rental.

You’re going to be furnishing an entire space, and you’re not doing it with your own preferences in mind. You’re doing it with your guests in mind, and you have to really think about what they’re going to want and put yourself in their shoes. If you’ve stayed in Airbnbs before as a guest, it can be helpful.

It’s also important to realize that while not everyone is going to have the same taste, you can still create something that appeals to the broad majority of guests because it’s clean, comfortable, and relaxing.

From canvas prints of local attractions on the wall to making sure your beds are extra plush, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you get great ratings and that your home is rented out on a regular basis.

General Things to Think About

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Whether you’re updating an existing rental or you’re fully furnishing a space from scratch, planning and strategizing is critical. An Airbnb is an investment and one that you want a positive return on, but if you don’t plan accordingly, you could end up overspending.

Some general things to keep in mind as you strategize include:

1. Make a furniture checklist

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If you already have a furnished home, look around at everything that’s functional, could be repaired, and can be reasonably reused. Then you can start to think about what you might need new. If you don’t already have anything, you can create a list of every room in your home.

From there, you can create a chart or graph where you list in order of importance the things you’d like to have in every room. Even if you don’t get everything all at once, guests probably aren’t going to notice (as long as you’re not missing the major items). You can always add the non-essentials later on.

2. Once you have a general outline of what you need, you can begin to develop a budget

You need to be sensible and strict in your budgeting because every dollar you spend is cutting into your profit. Not everything in an Airbnb has to be brand new, so remember that. You can start exploring social media and Craigslist to see what used items you can come up with.

3. Identify your targeted audience

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You aren’t going to attract everyone with your rental, so think about who your core audience is likely to be and what they’re going to love. You want to think about their travel styles and priorities and what’s going to be most compelling for them.

4. Having a theme can be a good way to guide your overall décor and make it easier for you to pick items

It can also set your rental apart and make it unique. Your theme doesn’t have to be kitschy. It can be as simple as mid-century modern. You can also base it around the location of your rental if you prefer, but you don’t want to go so far in the direction of your theme that your niche of potential renters is tiny. It’s actually cheaper to decorate a rental than your personal home if you do things right because you don’t tend to need as many items. You can focus more on the essentials.

5. As you’re creating a strategy, keep in mind where you want to splurge versus save

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For example, you might want to splurge on high-quality mattresses but save on rugs. You want to spend the most money in your budget on the things that are going to be most important to someone staying in your rental. Beds are a big one because if someone isn’t comfortable when they’re sleeping, it’s going to color their entire impression of your home.

Decorating Tips for Hosts

Some of the most general things to remember as far as designing the rental include:

  • Choose mostly neutral colors, especially for your walls. You can also choose natural wood finishes for your furniture. This is going to give your rental the most appeal. Some people are very turned off by bold colors. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid color altogether, but just do it in smaller bits. For example, use throw pillows with bolder colors.
  • Your accent pieces are going to be where you really add character. A good rule of thumb is to choose one statement piece per room, like a piece of art or one colorful, smaller piece of furniture.
  • Rather than going crazy with your color palette, you can add interest with textures. Textures can also be cozy and make your space seem inherently warm and inviting. For example, you can add texture in the form of throw pillows and blankets. Layer your textures as well to add more depth and dimension.
  • Maximize bed space because this will help you increase your income. If you have a pull-out couch in the living room, for example, then you can sleep more people. You can also include two beds in your second bedroom. Then, you have a couple staying in that room, they can push them together if they choose, or the room can be used by kids.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of hallway space from the front door of your rental to the rooms so that people can maneuver their baggage more easily.
  • Eliminate unneeded clutter. You want the space to feel open, clean, and organized. Clutter creates stressful emotions for people.
  • Remove all of your personal items. Don’t have family photos, and put your personal clothes and toiletries in a locked close if they’re going to stay in the rental.

Room by Room Tips

Below are some specific tips for the main rooms in your rental.

Bedrooms

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You want to make sure that you use a nice headboard in your bedrooms because they can be the focal point. Avoid using a bed with storage underneath because it’s going to increase the risk of your guests leaving items behind.

Your mattress should be thick and somewhat firm. Aim for mattresses that are at least 8 inches thick, and remember that a memory foam mattress will be more durable than ones with springs. The coils in a spring mattress can break.

A memory foam mattress is also cheaper if you have to replace it. Don’t forget to protect your mattresses as well, to prevent spills, stains, bugs, and dirt from getting access.

You’ll need at least one piece of furniture in each bedroom for storage so that your guests can unpack. Six drawers can be the standard because then if two people are sharing a room, they each have ample space in three drawers.

Each side of the bed also needs at least a small side table for things like phones and phone chargers. Add a table lamp to each side table too, because some people like to read while their partner sleeps.

Keep your bedding neutral, and remember that guests tend to like the idea of fresh, crisp, and clean white sheets over a colorful bed. With colorful bedding, there can be that fear that stains are hiding. White sheets avoid that.

Living Room

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In the living room, if you can find a sofa bed, that’s ideal. A pullout mattress tends to be most comfortable, but a less expensive way to add more sleeping space is to use a futon. They’re easier to set up in most cases than a sofa bed too.

Your living room needs a coffee table, and you should include at least one-floor lamp.

Base your living room furniture around how many guests your home can hold. If you have a huge house that can sleep eight guests, you want to make sure they’re also going to have enough seating space in both the living and dining areas.

You want the seating to be comfortable as well as spacious.

Outdoor Spaces

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Some Airbnbs have outdoor spaces that are the focal point of the home. In this case, furnish it like you do the indoor living and dining spaces. You want to give your guests plenty of multi-purpose space to spread out.

Make the outdoor spaces cozy and inviting with an area rug as your foundation. You can use multiple outdoor rugs to separate spaces by usability.

You also want to invest in high-quality outdoor seating. Outdoor furniture can often be more expensive than indoor furniture, but you need it to last, so plan for this in your budget.

Poufs or outdoor beanbags are a less expensive way to add extra seating to an outdoor space.

Having a firepit is always welcome among Airbnb renters as well because it helps the outdoor space feel functional, cozy, and fun.

Once you have the essentials, you can find out what else you might need to add based on renter reviews, and you make changes as your budget allows.