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.
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.
Choose Rental Furniture with Staying Power
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.
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. A white linen sofa, similarly, is perhaps not the best decision, especially if you have a family or pet-friendly vacation rental.
Tip: for furnishings that guests will not sit or lie on—like end tables—Craigslist, big box stores, and even secondhand stores can actually be your friend. Just be sure to do quality checks on any items you find there and do not buy them sight-unseen.
Ultimately, the furnishings help turn your house into a place that feels like home. Focus on durability while always keeping in mind comfort and functionality.
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, here, but perhaps a theme like “elegant farmhouse” or “vintage beach escape” will get you started.
Consider your guest profile when picking your theme. For example, if you’re in an urban area that gets many bookings on Airbnb, you will want to have a more trendy design scheme.
Of course, you will have to determine what size furniture works for your space, so bust out that measuring tape first, as well.
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?).
- Sofa and loveseat, or a sectional if space allows
- Matching coffee and end tables
- A discreet and functional entertainment center
- 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 chair or 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)
- 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
A lot of homes have additional rooms that don’t have a clear purpose. Keep in mind that your design scheme applies for 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.
All Lit Up
Improper lighting can make a room look small, dingy, and uninviting. The key to great lighting is layering!
Start at the ceiling. Overhead lighting, like track lights, dome lights, fan lights, and pot lights fill a room with indirect light, making smaller spaces look larger. Then there’s 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, they’re wonderful for activities like reading or watching television and add depth and warmth to the room.
Whenever possible, choose LED lightbulbs. Not only are they more energy efficient, LED bulbs last for years, and they offer a more natural light source than incandescent or CFL bulbs.
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.
Do 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.
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, boardgames, playing cards, and other games that your guests can bond over.
On the high-tech side, consider video game consoles, high-speed WiFi, 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 standardize the televisions sizes in the bedrooms.
Get More Airbnb Bookings For Your Short Term Rental With Smart Furnishings
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 built furniture your vacation will look great for years to come.