Shampoo & Booze 49: What Kind of Furniture We Buy for Our Rentals

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Elizabeth asked us a great question last week: what kind of furniture should she buy for the home she's about to rent on Airbnb? Everyone will probably have a different answer but here's what we are do.

Ikea is a good option because they offer affordable, modern furniture. Need to furnish a room fast? Just plop down the credit card and spend a couple days putting it together. No one can argue with this logic for the convenience.

But when we've stayed in an "Ikea home", it can often feel like a college dorm. Add some signs on the wall that say "Live Laugh Love" and the place can feels like a cheap, cutesy hotel. It looks like someone just furnished it overnight.

Because we always have time before we put our place up for rent, we find much of our furniture at auctions and Craigslist. Why? Because we can get awesome quality furniture for cheap. We live near a big city and it's incredible that people are almost giving away high end furniture because "it doesn't work in our space anymore". Last week we bought a $2000 leather recliner for $200. What!? So instead of paying $500 for a decent new Ikea couch, we'll pay $500 for a lightly used West Elm couch that originally cost $3000. Don't believe us? Just search your local urban Craigslist. Use keywords like: West Elm, Room and Board, Design Within Reach, Crate and Barrel.

We also enjoy attending local auctions. Usually these are evenings where someone's home/estate is being sold. Furniture, appliances, kitchen, bathroom, clothes, everything must go! Sometimes we've found amazing unique pieces of furniture and rugs for cheap. This adds variety to our rentals.

What we don't suggest is going to the thrift store and loading up on whatever they have. Though we love scavenging, good furniture is difficult to find in decent shape at the local Goodwill. We've stayed in plenty of rentals that look like junk shops. Nothing matches or makes design sense. Stuff looks grimy. All the silverware and utensils don't match. What thrift stores are good for is artwork. We've found unique, colorful pieces of art that make a room look fun and thoughtful.

And here's just a short list of what we make sure to offer:
  • A king size bed. The master bedroom should always have a big bed if the room can handle it. This screams "fancy"!
  • Hooks everywhere. When we stay somewhere for a couple nights, I just want to hang up my clothes and towels. Don't make me throw my clothes on the back of chairs.
  • A full kitchen with the ability to cook full meals. We always look for places where we can cook. This is part of the Airbnb experience for us because it lets us save money on food. A good kitchen also allows us feel at home. We've stayed in plenty of places that had a kitchen without the right mix of pots, pans, utensils, and spices. Just let me cook some scrambled eggs and toast. Don't make me buy a bag of salt for a two night stay.
So are we design snobs? Maybe! But good design is also just good business. We can charge more if the place feels planned and of quality. We make more money putting in the time to arrange things just so. Our feedback reflects this.

Do you have any tips for furnishing your place? What do you look for when you rent on Airbnb?

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