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  • Writer's pictureKerri Jamison

Designing the Perfect Airbnb

Whether you have to decorate your own short-term rental or are considering it but not sure what you will need to invest in, here are some suggestions.

Keep Clutter to a Minimum

An addition to the aesthetic appeal of clean lines and simple décor, the less clutter in a room, the easier it is to keep clean and maintain. Although bookshelves, rugs, throw blankets and lots of smaller picture frames help make a home look cozy, you must consider how much time these things take to clean. Rugs, throw blankets and any upholstered surface need attention and regular cleaning. Choose bigger pieces of art, perhaps canvas art which doesn't require dusting. Use throw pillows with removable shams and blankets that won't ruin in the wash.

Keep it Neutral

This goes for everything from color scheme to political and religious viewpoints. If you hope to welcome and make all your future guests feel at home, it's important to decorate in a way that people from any background will enjoy your place. Avoid bold colors on the walls, flooring, cabinets and tile. Use light and bright, neutral tones. That doesn't mean everything needs to be white or feel sterile. The biggest piece of furniture in the room should be the guide to choosing wall and floor coverings. Paint is easy to change. If you need help, hire a designer or ask a friend whose opinion you respect.

Inanimate objects are a safe bet

Personal photos, scriptures, political affiliations, paintings of religious figures and the like should be kept out of your rental space. The less a guest can speculate about the owner of the property, the better. Landscapes for traditional homes, or modern art for contemporary homes are a good choice for wall décor. Although you may love nude sketches, some may be offended by it. Try to consider others' preferences when choosing art. Your Trump 2020 sign may be unattractive to guests. A Buddha decal on the wall is probably not the best choice.

Choose Furnishings Wisely

When choosing a sofa, remember to pick a textile that is easy to clean and easy to clean under. Sofas with short legs will require moving to clean the floor underneath. Leather or pleather is unappealing to many but is easy to clean. Another good choice is microfiber with Scotchgard. It is easy to maintain, but this is a less eco-friendly choice because it sheds. Try to buy secondhand when possible. Sofa beds are a great idea for maximizing income potential.

Coffee tables, dining tables and nightstands are necessary additions to your Airbnb. Make sure these are easy to wipe off. Wicker and rattan have become popular but they're impractical choices for the quick and effective cleaning that must be done in between guests. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that guests may not be conscientious about using coasters.

Rugs or Carpet

Whatever you wish to call them, they add warmth and coziness to the room. A living room may feel naked without an area rug depending on the size. The wise choice for a carpet is one that is large enough to bring the furniture and color scheme together. Vintage wool is a sustainable choice and easy to clean.

I've seen many blogs that say to use area rugs everywhere but I don't recommend that. Carpets and rugs are difficult to clean. Think about the safety hazard that rugs present. A guest may wake up in the night and can easily trip on a rug in the dark if it's on the path to the bathroom. Bath mats should be lightweight enough to be washed after every guest and kept folded on the edge of the shower or bathtub.

The Best Hard Finishes

If you're remodeling or building a room for a short-term rental, you must consider how your choices will wear over time. Although mosaic tile is beautiful, it is more difficult to clean than bigger floor and wall tile. Grout color can make or break how your tile job looks over time. White grout doesn't stay white for long.

Choosing countertops is important. Butcher block countertops will invite people to use it as a cutting board. Laminate is also susceptible to burn marks, cut marks, etc. White marble is beautiful but it stains easily. Granite and quartz are the most impermeable. Don't expect guests to read and obey instructions you have listed.

Make sure to have plenty of counter space in the bathroom for guests to put their personal effects on. Although pedestal sinks are attractive and affordable, there isn't much room for anything more than soap and a toothbrush. If you already have a pedestal sink, add shelving around the sink where possible.

When making flooring selections, the biggest consideration is ease of cleaning and wear and tear. Softwoods like pine scratch easily and will show marks from heels and scratches from animals, etc. As mentioned earlier, if you choose tile throughout the space, think about grout color and whether it will stain quickly.

Buying Linens

Linens refer to towels, sheets and all bedding. There is a lot to say about these. Some choose to use white everything for several reasons. First, they can be bleached which provides the maximum level of sanitation. Second, white looks clean and fresh. Third, all linens can be laundered together. However, some stains like mascara, are difficult to remove from white linens. Many hosts ask guests to remove makeup before using linens, even providing different kinds of wipes to encourage this. Yet, occasionally the white linens inevitably become rags thanks to impossible stains.

Some hosts prefer to match their linens to their color scheme. Occasionally guests will use towels with bleach (who knows why, maybe home hair bleaching?) and those linens become rags.

Make sure to have hooks or towel bars in the bathrooms for towels to dry on after use.

Providing plenty of blankets to guests is important for their comfort. Duvets are ideal because their covers are easy to remove and wash after each guest. If you live in a warm climate, duvets may be too heavy and a lightweight quilt is a good, easily laundered option. Although it seems like a good idea, plastic mattress covers are a definite "NO!" They are noisy and not breathable causing more perspiration throughout the night. Go with a cotton, padded, quality mattress cover.

The most difficult part of choosing linens is finding sheets that don't wrinkle and require constant ironing. Quality cottons tend to wrinkle easily while polyester doesn't wrinkle but isn't as breathable. Do research before buying.

Window treatments are also an important aspect of a room. Privacy should be provided in every room and bedrooms should have light-blocking treatments. I prefer black-out curtains for their ease of cleaning over blinds.


It may be tempting to buy the absolute cheapest of everything for your short-term rental but this isn't a good idea. Guests who choose an Airbnb with a kitchen may do so because they enjoy cooking and prefer not to eat in restaurants. These type of guests care about quality. Cutlery, cookware, and glassware should be of good quality. Consider buying secondhand if cost is a consideration.

One point many hosts don't consider until it's too late is what items are provided to the guest for cleaning and cooking. If you provide cookware that requires certain treatment such as non-stick pans, don't have any metal utensils near the stove. Choose wooden spatulas. Provide soft sponges not abrasive ones. Some guests may not realize the damage that can be done to a stainless fridge with an abrasive sponge.

That's all I can think of. Drop a comment if you would like to add in your own two cents.


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