Posted on 3/22/2023

How To Furnish A Short-Term Vacation Rental Home

Although not as daunting as purchasing a vacation home, the process of furnishing your rental can still be intimidating to start. Thankfully, having a roadmap of where to start and finish helps to organize and simplify the process.

Choosing the right furniture is important, but remember – furniture can always be changed! Try your best to furnish wisely but also keep in mind that any bad seating arrangements or table choices can be easily amended.

1. Create a "Rental Property Furnishings" checklist

As a first step, you should write down all the furnishings that you already own – unless you are starting out entirely from scratch, of course! Then, establish your budget. Your budget should cover all essential items for the home and leave a buffer for bonus items.

Next, outline all furniture and essential items which you will need to purchase to adequately outfit your accommodation for future guests. Think of this as your “Need-To-Have” list, items like beds, couches, sheets, pillows, pots and pans, cutlery, chairs, glasses, small appliances, tables, lamps, TVs, etc.

Finally, make a list of furniture and decor that you would like to buy as an added bonus as soon as the basics are covered – this is your “Want-To-Have” list. Treat this as an ongoing wish list that you maintain and check off over time or as quickly as your budget allows. This list might contain items like pool loungers, accent chairs, rugs, wall art, etc.

2. Understand your guest target demographic

Who are you designing and furnishing this space for and who (ideally), are you trying to attract as a guest to stay at your rental property?

Establishing who your target market is from the outset will make your furnishing decisions that much easier. Depending on the size and layout of your property, it may be a suitable destination for families with young children and in that case, it would be useful to choose short-term rental furniture that is kid-friendly and highly resilient.

If your property is a smaller, cozier abode, you may try to market it as a romantic retreat for honeymooners and other couples and should furnish it appropriately (for example, a large bed, nice sheets, a table for two, two lounge chairs on a balcony to take in the sunset, etc.).

No matter the demographic you identify as your target, you’ll want to keep them top of mind throughout the entire process of furnishing your property as it should be the deciding factor when making purchasing decisions. After all, what use is a 10-seater dining table if your rental only sleeps four and doesn’t allow any additional visitors?

3. Find inspiration online

Start coming up with ideas for the overall look and style you wish to achieve at your vacation rental.

The internet is full of interior design ideas to make you swoon – especially on social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Pop into local home and furniture stores, browse interior design magazines, and follow design studios on social media and start saving, pinning, or favoriting all the images that can serve as inspiration.

Pro Tip: Check out what your competitors’ properties look like on social media and make it your goal to ensure your rental looks even better!

4. Define your style

The personality of your vacation rental goes hand in hand with your own taste, the property location, and the budget you have. Deciding on a central theme (or themes) is a good idea, but remember you want your property to appeal to a wide range of guests so try to focus on return on investment (ROI).

Favor neutral color schemes over headache-inducing ones and keep ornaments and trinkets to a minimum.

A lot of vacation rental owners decide to reflect some elements of their locale in their property decoration. For example, blue hues and seaside-inspired décor for those beachfront homes, and rustic wood touches with thick, knitted blankets for a mountain lodge or cabin.

Take a stroll around your area to find inspiration for the theme of your own vacation home furniture and brainstorm creative ideas for decorating the interior.

5. Invest in quality, durable furniture

In general, furniture in a vacation rental will wear more quickly than in a regular home due to the stream of incoming visitors. Some items such as mattresses, are easier and cheaper to protect than others.

For large and important furniture in high-traffic areas more at risk for accidental damage or wear and tear from guests (such as dining tables, sofas, etc.), investing in practical, durable furniture is a wise move that will save you money long term.

6. Be generous with storage

It may not strike you as the most creative part of furnishing your home, but storage is an important factor to take into consideration for any vacation rental.

In particular, if guests traveling to your location are likely to stay for a week or longer, be sure to provide ample closet, drawer, or clothes rail space to enable them to unpack and feel completely at home. Even the most minimalist rentals don’t have an excuse – there are many stylish options that can also serve as a design feature and help make the room feel full.

7. Use lighting to create space

Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, bedroom or living room, bright or mellow – the lighting choices in your vacation rental have a huge effect on how guests perceive the space and how they enjoy it.

Lighting can serve as your secret weapon to create an illusion of spaciousness, but you can also play with different fixtures such as hanging bulbs, table lamps, and spotlights to illuminate each area of your home.

What’s more, it’s worth investing in energy-efficient lighting solutions such as LED bulbs as these will last longer and are more eco-friendly. They will also help avoid any mishaps such as an essential bathroom bulb burning out in the middle of a Saturday night!

8. Mix old and new

We all know that stores such as IKEA and Pottery Barn are great for finding everyday items, but to give your rental that unique touch that none of your competitors will have it’s smart to try to source unique items.

Antique markets and thrift stores can be great sources of furniture and decorations that you can mix and match with store-bought items to build your signature style.

9. Don't overdo it

While cramming every surface full of objects and souvenirs may be how you like to decorate your own house, for a guest on vacation, it can soon feel overwhelming and cluttered (plus more stuff = more stuff at risk for breaking and requiring replacement, which can get costly). Minimalism is a trend with staying power for a reason as it makes the space feel tidy and calm.

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