How to Furnish Your Vacation Rental For the Best Guest Experience

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By Lucy Wang
Whether you’re renting out a spare bedroom or an entire home, these furnishing tips can help elevate your holiday rental to the next level.

With the sharing economy in full swing, putting your property on the rental market is easier than ever. Furnishing that rental, however, isn’t always quite as easy. Interior decor makes a big impact—not only on first impressions, but also in attracting return guests and great reviews. Keep scrolling to learn some tips for how to best furnish your vacation property. 

This minimalist living room takes cues from Scandinavian design.

This minimalist living room takes cues from Scandinavian design.

Decide on a Design Theme

To make informed home decor decisions, begin by figuring out the overarching design vision most appropriate for your target audience. Your furniture and style choices will differ depending on whether you’re catering to families, solo business travelers, or budget backpackers.

Also consider the property’s surroundings for site-specific design cues. A rental by the beach, for instance, may channel a breezy, bungalow feel, while an apartment in a city could be better suited to modern minimalism.

Deciding on a theme ahead of time can help streamline furniture decisions so that by the time you start shopping, you’re less likely to fall down the rabbit hole of picking up everything that catches your eye—including items that might not work well together!

Stick to Neutrals For the Main Pieces

Unless you’re targeting a niche audience, a neutral palette will have the greatest mass appeal. Subdued tones also makes it easier to layer over with pops of color or statement pieces that can be easily swapped out to keep your rental looking new.

Mix Store-Bought With Secondhand

You don’t have to break the bank when it comes to furnishing your rental with quality pieces. For those wanting to do everything themselves, a mix of store-bought items and secondhand pieces is a great way to style your property on a budget. Craigslist can be a goldmine for picking up quality pieces for a fraction of the price. Don’t forget to check out your local thrift and consignment stores as well.

And while a trip to IKEA will be inevitable for most, we caution against getting all your items there—you’ll run the risk of your space becoming a boring, cookie-cutter "IKEAbnb." Remember, rental furniture will eventually need to be replaced, so always consider the durability and lifespan of the item before purchasing.

A NYC living room apartment features framed art hung salon-style and pops of greenery.

A NYC living room apartment features framed art hung salon-style and pops of greenery.

Show Personality Through Small Touches

Home rentals are often preferred over hotels because they tend to show more personality. To create a memorable space, use select statement pieces and textures to add warmth and interest to a room. Low-maintenance plants and carefully placed mirrors can instantly brighten up a space. Local art is also a great way to add character. Be careful not to over-decorate, and always remember to keep your personal items out of sight.

Living Area

First impressions are often made in the living room. Since it’s the first space most guests will see, the living room should encapsulate your design vision and personality more than any other room. When selecting a couch, consider purchasing a pullout sofa bed to increase the number of guests you can accommodate.

Double table lamps and bedside tables are easily accessible from the bed.

Double table lamps and bedside tables are easily accessible from the bed.

Bedroom

The bedroom is the most important part of any rental. Comfortable beds with quality linens are crucial—so don’t skimp on the mattress and bedding—as are items for convenience like the bedside table and lamps

Minimizing clutter is an important rule to follow in every room, but it especially holds true in the bedrooms. Make sure there’s enough breathing room for guests to move around, unpack, and store their luggage without feeling cramped. If there’s space, consider adding a small table with a chair as well.

Kitchen

Many people prefer short-term housing rentals to hotels because of the access to a kitchen. If your rental has a kitchen, keep it stocked with basic appliances and tableware—and don’t forget the coffee maker. You should also consider easy-to-clean items and countertops to reduce housekeeping demands.

Bathroom

To go the extra mile, consider providing complimentary toiletries in the bathroom in addition to the essential hair dryer and towels. Soft, matching towels can also do a lot to pull the look of a bathroom together.