You’ve just purchased or acquired a new property and are ready to prepare your vacation rental for new guests. Great! But where do you even start? And how should you divvy up your furnishing budget? Have no fear, we’ve come up with a fool-proof list that will guide you on where to splurge and where to save. Read on to find out how you can turn your space into a livable, lovable vacation rental that will score five-star reviews and turn first-time visitors into repeat guests.
1. SPLURGE on high-quality mattresses and sheets (guests will remember how well they slept).
Nothing can ruin a stay faster than an uncomfortable bed. Investing in a high-quality mattress and sheets will not only save your guests’ backs but will also save your listing from bad reviews. A few hot tips:
- Mattress Type – Since different types of sleepers will be rolling through, a hybrid mattress offers a great balanced option. A combination of soft memory foam and supportive coils also appeals to different firmness preferences. And the best part? Both hybrid and foam mattresses are built to minimize noise.
- Price Points – For a queen-size bed, the average price ranges from $900-$1,330 for foam mattress (think Tuft & Needle) and $1,500-$2,000 for hybrid mattresses (like WinkBeds).
- Durability – Nothing is worse than a saggy mattress. When preparing your vacation rental, look for a mattress with a good warranty. You can also increase the life of your mattress with a quality cover—just make sure it’s washable, breathable, and doesn’t crinkle. (Guests shouldn’t even know there’s one there!)
- High-Quality Sheets – Typically it’s a good idea to purchase sheets that are over a 200 thread count, but the quality of the thread is just as important. Look for sheets that are single-ply and long-staple, as they will be durable, lightweight, quick-drying, and won’t pill. While commercial hotels tend to use a cotton-poly blend, other fantastic options include bamboo, linen and luxury Egyptian sheets.
2. SAVE on replacement costs and buy affordable towels.
Since you’ll want to replace your towels at least once a year, this item on your vacation rental inventory list is one where you can cut back on costs. Things to consider:
- Color – When it comes to choosing the color of your towels, there are two strong opinions in the vacation rental world—go white or go dark (navy, black, or gray). White towels are easier to bleach and are less likely to fade, while darker colors hide stains easier. Which you choose is up to you and your design scheme, but it’s never a bad idea to provide separate makeup washcloths and towels in a darker color.
- Quality & Price – Quality towels don’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can find good options for around $10-$15 a towel or even cheaper in bulk via Amazon or wholesale. Just make sure to go with a fabric (like Turkish cotton) that’s soft, durable, and has a quick drying time.
3. SAVE on disposable vacation rental inventory like paper products.
Quality matters more than brands when it comes to products like toilet paper and paper towels. There are plenty of affordable options that look and feel great, and your guests won’t know the difference. Some suggestions:
- Type – Go with an affordable but quality option that’s simple and non-patterned for toilet paper and paper towels. For toilet paper, make sure you’re buying at least a 2-ply roll. With tissue boxes, a cube style is a good way to get more bang for your buck.
- Amount – While your guests won’t care about the brand of toilet paper, they will mind if they run out. A good rule of thumb is to supply one roll of toilet paper per guest for every two nights and one tissue box in each bathroom. If your guests are staying longer than a week, add extra supplies and let them know you have more if they need it.
4. SPLURGE on furniture for your vacation rental property.
- Design Goal & Ideal Guests – Before even furnishing your home, you’ll want to draw up a design goal (How do you want your home to feel? What’s the vibe?) and guest persona (Who is the guest that might visit Big Bear vs. Miami?).
- Material – Solid wood or metal are perfect for high-touch items that guests will be using the most, like dining room tables and chairs. High-performance material that’s easy to clean (like Sunbrella®) is ideal for sofas and armchairs. One great tip when buying fabric—check to see if it’s passed the Martindale Test, which measures durability.
- Just Say No – Avoid furniture and accessories that are a nightmare to clean, like cotton or linen couches, shag rugs, or throw pillows or pillow covers that can’t be tossed in the wash. While it takes more effort, it’s also a good idea to stay away from matching sets. Mixing unique pieces takes more time but adds a well-thought-out style your guests are sure to appreciate.
5. SAVE on dinnerware and glassware for your kitchen.
One of the perks of renting a home instead of a hotel is the luxury of having a kitchen, so you’ll want to prepare your vacation rental with plenty of dinnerware and glassware for your guests. But just go easy on your wallet! With lots of people coming in and out of your kitchen, you’ll most likely have to replace items often. Some things to look for:
- Hardiness – Durability is key as accidents are prone to happen. Go with dishwasher-friendly items that are sturdy, like ceramic or chip-resistant Corelle plates and durable ribbed glass cups. Avoid easy-to-break items like skinny stem glasses, as well as dishware made of wood, melamine, acrylic or plastic (it looks cheap!).
- Versatility – Purchase multi-functioning items like stemless wine glasses and bowl-plate hybrids (essentially a plate-sized bowl with curved-up sides). That way, your guests can use the same dishes for a variety of things—a plate for both soup and salad, or a glass for water or wine!
- Amount – Stock your kitchen with at least twice as many dishes and glasses as your home sleeps (i.e. two dishes for each guest).
6. SPLURGE on appliances and prepare your vacation rental for heavy (but respectful) use, with durable products.
Prepare your vacation rental with high-quality appliances as it will save you a lot of money in the long run. A few things to consider:
- Kitchen Appliances – When buying bigger kitchen appliances (oven, dishwasher, fridge) try to balance a gourmet mindset with the practical. While a high-end six-burner stove will add a sense of luxury, a practical stainless steel option is likely a more realistic option. Make sure these appliances are fool-proof and easy to use.
- Efficiency – Buying appliances that are more energy-efficient will help save on utility costs. Invest in eco-friendly LED bulbs, consider a gas range instead of an electric, and purchase a fridge that has an energy star rating.
- How To Save – Look to see if you can qualify for a rebate when buying larger appliances in a bundle (usually two to four at a time). It’s a great way to save hundreds of dollars on brand-new items!
Elizabeth Holbrook is a writer, editor, and grammar geek who loves all things content and travel. Combing her two passions, she’s covered everything from news stories for the national broadcaster of South Korea to the latest in the short-term rental industry in the U.S.