Shampoo and Booze Episode 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?

Thinking of becoming an Airbnb host or guest? Use our referral code and get $20 off your next stay or $80 credit if you become a host!

9 comments:

  1. You hit all my favorite CL key words. For furniture I would add Anthropologie when they have 40% sale on sale. Great deals on curtain panels appear - look early in the morning. There is Garnet Hill (rugs and softs) and CB2 (Crate & Barrel's modern brand). It's easier to find great deals on high quality bed sheets & duvets in king size than other sizes. TJ Maxx actually sells online just won't let you search by brand. I also use Brad's deals and get their daily email alert.

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    1. thanks christine, we will keep these brands in mind now. i will check out TJ Maxx online as well. sweet!

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  2. Yayyyy! Thanks so much for covering this topic. I have been looking for king beds and think I will be able to find a good mattress but might have to buy a frame because I need a low profile headboard or I might have someone make a reclaimed wood piece. He has made other pieces for me and it is cheaper than most new stuff! I made note of the keywords and will start looking for those as well. We don't seem to have fancy people up here selling stuff on Craigslist but I know there are fancy people in Saratoga so I am going to try to figure out if they take it to the local charity thrift shop or what.

    I have another topic idea(s): What to include in the welcome book versus whatever Airbnb guidebook is (I can't see what this is until I finish my listing it seems?). How did you organize area attractions... I have seen some people have a Box link they give to people and that links to maps and such. I have heard some just have a written book that they keep updated. I know someone used a site first used for out of town wedding guests to give a link to a map with all the areas plotted nearby. Do you give personal reviews of restaurants and say what you like there or just give the name of decent places nearby?

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    1. no one sells fancy stuff on CL here either. so we drive 90 miles to DC to get stuff. but it's worth it to us. we'd have to drive to DC to buy it new anyway, might as well get it on CL.

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  3. The closest places are probably Boston area or NYC for us and both of those are about 3 hours away. I will have to keep an eye out though because for the right item it might be worth it.

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  4. Do you know of any way to search on Airbnb for yurts or airstreams? I sure can't figure it out and I'd love to see some of those listings! I'm going to price yurts for our place. We've already got the land with a nice view, we would just need site prep, utilities and a yurt or airstream.

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    1. There must be a way to search for a specific kind of structure. I just googles "yurts Airbnb" and our town's name.

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  5. I really enjoyed this episode. My vrbo neighbor just put in a king size bed, but there is only a foot of space around it. The bed takes up the whole room.
    Sorry it's your off season, my off season is spring through fall. Peak ski season is only January, February and March. 31 nights booked in January, 24 nights in February and 19 for March.

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    1. Wow, those are great numbers. Congrats!

      I agree that a King bed doesn't work in a tiny room. But if the room is big enough, a king size bed really is a luxury people appreciate.

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