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How to furnish a vacation rental home: the ultimate guide and checklist

The right furnishings can turn a good vacation rental into a great vacation rental. If you can nail the balance between form and function—that is, furnishings that are as eye-pleasing as they are comfortable—you can jump ahead of your competition and stay there.

Before you can think about marketing your vacation rental or creating a bespoke digital guidebook, you first need to furnish your property. As the short-term rental industry keeps growing, it's more important than ever that your property stands out among the rest. The best way to do this is by making sure that your rental property has stellar interior design. 

After all, furnishings make your photos pop, creating an excellent first impression at the marketing stage. Then, if your guests are comfortable in your vacation home, the five-star reviews will certainly follow.

However, it can be quite a challenge to determine what furniture and decor will be best suited for your short-term vacation rental. Filling a completely empty home with inviting furniture can feel like a mammoth task, which is why we’ve created the ultimate guide to furnishing a rental property. 

In this guide, you will find out everything you need to know about how to furnish a vacation rental home. We start by going over the expected costs of decorating a rental property and highlight some first steps. Next, we discuss how to choose the right furniture for your rental property and provide a helpful furnishing checklist. 

So if you’re in need of some interior design help, this is the guide for you. 


How much does it cost to furnish a short-term vacation rental? 

For starters, it’s a good idea to think about budget and costs when furnishing a short-term vacation rental. There’s no set amount that you should spend when decorating a rental home, as there are a variety of elements that could impact costs. You could easily spend thousands on top-of-the-range pieces or you could look into more affordable options, it’s really up to you. 

The following factors will determine the cost of furnishing a short-term vacation rental: 

  • The location of your property
  • The brands of furniture you purchase
  • The condition of the furniture pieces you purchase
  • Your existing furniture inventory 

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to furnish a rental house, online marketplaces, big box stores, and even second-hand stores can be your friend. Just be sure to do quality checks on any items you find there and do not buy them sight unseen.

Furnishing a vacation rental - first steps 

A quick search of your area will likely show that many vacation rental properties are still furnishing their rentals with castoff furniture or low-priced options from big box stores. That is fine for casual or temporary hosts, but if you plan to be in the vacation rental game for the long run, we highly recommend making an investment in quality pieces.

This is especially true if your vacation rental is in a destination where guests will spend a lot of time lounging at home, like a beach house or a mountain cabin. After all, buying a high-quality sofa once is better than buying four or five cheap ones over the course of your rental home’s lifespan. Plus, a gorgeous sofa will help you stand out in your marketing, bringing you more rental income in the first place.

Of course, you will have to determine what size furniture works for your space, so bust out that measuring tape first. 

How to choose furniture for your vacation rental: 7 things to consider  

With costs and first steps out of the way, you can start thinking about the type of furniture that you want for your vacation rental. In this section, we highlight 7 important factors that you need to consider when furnishing a rental property.  

Design with your guests in mind

One of the best things you can do when furnishing a short-term rental is to establish your target market. By having a clear idea of what your ideal guests will be looking for, your furnishing decisions will be much easier. For example, if you want to market your rental property to families, you will want to make sure that you choose furniture that is kid-friendly and safe. 

Alternatively, if your property is smaller, it could be a good idea to design the space in a much cosier and romantic way. This will make your property more appealing to couples and honeymooners looking for an intimate escape. Overall, considering your guest profile is the best way to determine what furniture your property will need. 

Find inspiration online

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas you can always do an online search to get the cogs turning. There are countless websites and online forums where you can get some top inspiration and find a style that suits your property. 

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are a great place to start. You can follow top furniture and home brands, find interior design pages and get a better understanding of what good furnishing looks like. It’s a good idea to save any posts and images you like for later reference and create your own portfolio of inspiration. 

Plus, you can check out your competitor's channels and ensure that your short-term vacation home stands out to guests

Determine your style

Before you go out shopping, plan out each room and consider everything that you will need to make each space comfortable and stylish. It may also be helpful to consider a design scheme that you can carry throughout. We’re not talking about kitschy sailboats and seashells, but perhaps a theme like ‘elegant farmhouse’ or ‘vintage beach escape’ will get you started.

While having a central theme for your vacation home decor can give your property character, you still want it to be desirable to a range of guests. It can be tempting to fill the space with eye-catching colours and unique designs, but a more neutral theme will make your property much more alluring to a larger audience. 

Choose good quality furniture 

It is wise to remember that furniture in a vacation property will endure much more wear and tear than in a normal home. As such, investing in durable furnishings that are higher in quality will save you from having to regularly repair and replace broken items. 

Some features to look for in your furniture include sturdiness, materials used, and ease of cleaning. For example, rather than choosing glass-top end tables that are easily broken and prone to fingerprints, choose a sturdy wooden table. Similarly, a white linen sofa is not the best decision, especially if you have a family or pet-friendly vacation rental.

Ultimately, furnishings help turn your property into a place that feels like home. Focus on durability while always keeping in mind comfort and functionality.

Don’t overlook storage

It can be tempting to focus on the major pieces that will turn your vacation property into an inviting space such as four poster beds and elegant loveseats. However, one of the most important things to consider when furnishing a short term rental home is storage. Your guests will likely be staying for an extended period of time, so having plenty of space to unpack will make them feel much more at home. 

There are plenty of stylish storage options that can elevate your rental property and please your guests. From grandiose to minimalist, you can find dressers, drawers, cabinets and more that will fit perfectly into the design theme of your vacation home.  

Use lighting to brighten the space

Improper lighting can make a room look small, dingy, and uninviting. The key to great lighting is layering!

Start at the ceiling. Overhead lighting, such as track lights, dome lights, fan lights, and pot lights, fills a room with indirect light, making smaller spaces look larger. Then there are your windows. If you have the option to take advantage of natural light during the day, make sure that you choose window dressings and blinds that are easy for guests to operate.

Next, don’t forget the lamps and accent lighting. Whatever you do, do not make overhead lighting the only light source. Lamps not only allow you to add style to each room, but they’re also wonderful for activities like reading or watching television and add warmth to the space.

Whenever possible, choose LED light bulbs as they are more energy efficient and will make your vacation rental more sustainable. Plus, LED bulbs last for years, and they offer a more natural light source than incandescent or CFL bulbs.

The importance of entertainment

You should provide both high-tech and low-tech entertainment options for your guests. On the low-tech end, table games like pool tables, shuffleboard, foosball and arcade games are always a hit if you have the space and welcome large groups. Low-tech options in smaller spaces include books, board games, playing cards, and other games that your guests can bond over.

On the high-tech side, consider video game consoles, high-speed Wi-Fi, streaming capabilities (Roku or Apple TV are relatively cheap and let guests have a good Netflix binge on vacation), and televisions in the living spaces and, ideally, in every bedroom. A surround sound system is a huge plus, too.

When choosing televisions, try to stick with the same brand for each room (for ease of operation) and standardise the television sizes in the bedrooms.

Checklist for furnishing a vacation home 

Now that you have an idea of the space and how you intend to go about furnishing your rental property, you can start purchasing pieces that will complement your vacation home. To help mitigate some of the stress of sourcing furniture for your rental home we’ve created a handy ‘furnishing a rental property checklist’ that you can use to get started. 

Below are some ideas and suggestions to help you create a comprehensive list before you hit IKEA (is there anywhere more overwhelming than IKEA on a Saturday afternoon?):

Living room

  • Sofa and loveseat, or a sectional if space allows
  • Matching coffee and end tables
  • A discreet and functional entertainment centre
  • Wall hangings that complement your furniture
  • An area rug for non-carpeted floors
  • Window dressings (drapes, curtains, blinds)
  • Lamps that are easy to operate
  • Tasteful, non-personal home decor


  • Appropriate size bed or beds
  • Matching nightstands
  • Dresser/chest of drawers
  • Vanity (if space allows)
  • Comfortable chairs
  • Tasteful wall hangings that complement your furniture
  • Full-length mirror
  • Lamps (bonus points if you find one with USB charging)
  • Window dressings (drapes, curtains, blinds)

Dining room

  • Table with expandable leaf
  • Plenty of chairs
  • China cabinet (if space allows)
  • Server (if space allows)
  • Window dressings (drapes, curtains, blinds – if necessary)
  • Tasteful wall hangings that complement the furniture
  • Good overhead lighting

Other rooms

A lot of homes have additional rooms that don’t have a clear purpose. Keep in mind that your design scheme applies to these extra/bonus rooms, too! 

Don’t throw in the towel and just add some furniture and call it a day. Thoughtful window dressings, wall hangings, floor coverings and some thoughtful design elements can really bring a room together.

A little something extra

Remember you are decorating a vacation home, not a hotel room. While you want to keep the decor tasteful, you still want the house to feel like a home. By adding some personal touches to fit your design scheme, you can make your vacation home warmer and more inviting. 

But don’t go overboard, of course (those sailboats and seashells again!), and do make sure that any decor you choose enhances the room. Keep in mind that small knick-knacks and other decorations are prone to getting broken and will need to be replaced. So while adding in the extras is a nice touch, keep it simple, durable, and affordable.


Keeping your vacation home looking great starts with your furnishings. Remember: choose furnishings that are durable as well as comfortable and stylish. Maintain continuity throughout the home, and consider the preferences of your target guest.

Spend a little more today and save a fortune tomorrow! By purchasing easily cleaned well well-built furniture your vacation will look great for years to come. We hope this guide has inspired you and will serve as a helpful starting point for furnishing your short-term vacation rental. 

Do you want to wow your guests and boost your booking inquiries? At Touch Stay, we offer bespoke digital guidebooks for vacation properties that allow your guests to get the most out of their stay. 

Start your 14-day free trial now or contact us to see how we can elevate your rental property with our dynamic guidebooks.