Total Estimated Furnishing Cost.
You’ve invested in your first short-term rental property that you plan to list on Airbnb. Wonderful! Now, what do you need to purchase to outfit it, and what will it cost you? How can you save money on the endeavor?
Many variables go into this process, such as location, size of the property, target market, what nightly fee you plan to charge your guests, how much you want to invest in the guest experience, and your other expenses such as mortgage, taxes, property-management and cleaner fees, Internet and utilities, and insurance.
This article provides an overview of the must-haves, advice on whether to buy new or secondhand and a rough idea (taking variables into consideration) of what you can expect to spend. Adapting a rule of thumb from a property investor who advises spending $15 per square foot to furnish the property, we suggest that $10-$15/square foot provides above-average ambiance for guests and that spending more than that isn’t necessary unless your goal is a high-end luxury.
Savvy hosts tend to turn to retail sources such as Wayfair, Walmart, IKEA, Amazon, Costco, and Overstock when buying new furnishings. For buying secondhand, they favor Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, garage and estate sales, and brick-and-mortar thrift/secondhand stores, such as Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity.
Ask your friends if they have furniture and household items they want to get rid of; you’d be surprised at how many people are looking to purge their extra stuff. What about your residence? Do you have items you’re not using that you could use in your Airbnb?
Kitchen Products: How to Furnish an AirBNB Kitchen
A significant factor in Airbnb kitchen cost is whether the property you’ve purchased comes with the major appliances – refrigerator, range/oven, and dishwasher. Fortunately, most do, but if the property you’ve bought is missing any of these or needs upgrading, you’ll need to factor their cost into your expenses for equipping the kitchen.
While these items are sold all the time through Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you take a risk that appliances bought through these outlets may not work as well as the seller claims they do. Buying appliances new and under warranty is usually a better bet.
Your other major expense is likely to be a dining table and chairs, especially if the home doesn’t have a dedicated dining room; these can often be purchased secondhand. Assuming you don’t need to purchase new major appliances, you get a good deal on table and chairs, and you are conservative with the items described below (at least to start), your initial startup kitchens costs could range from $1,000 to $2,500.
You’ll also need to supply dishwares, such as plates and bowls, beverage ware, flatware, pots and pans, and some basic cooking utensils. Here again, keep in mind your maximum guest count. If you allow eight guests, you must supply at least eight plates, bowls, drinking vessels (cups and glasses), and eating utensils.
Some of these items can be bought secondhand, but ensure they’re in good condition and in sufficient quantities for your guest count. Mixing bowls, measuring cups, cutting boards, items for food storage, potholders, and bakeware are popular extras.
You will likely want to supply some of the small appliances – toaster, blender, coffeemaker, microwave – that most guests are accustomed to in their own home kitchens. Similarly, consider supplying basic pantry items, such as salt and pepper, a few herbs and spices, olive and/or cooking oil/spray, sweeteners, coffee, tea, and vinegar.
Supplying condiments like mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise is a controversial topic among hosts because many guests don’t like to use products like these after they’ve been opened; however, those that come in a squeeze bottle or single-serve packets are acceptable to most guests. Dishwasher detergent and detergent for hand-washing dishes are essentials. Consider also dishtowels, hand towels, scrub sponges/brushes, and kitchen trash bags.
Bathroom Products: How to Furnish an AirBNB Bathroom
Because they typically don’t include much in the way of furniture, bathrooms are among the least expensive areas to furnish. Towels are the major expense here, and like bedroom linens, a significant supply of towels can protect hosts and their cleaners from the pressures of getting all used towels laundered before the next guests check in on same-day turnovers. Towels tend to wear out fairly quickly, so it’s always best to buy new; look for sales often in the towel world.
Other supplies in the linen category include bathmats, shower curtains, and special dark towels designated for makeup removal.
Most hosts supply at least some toiletries – shampoo, body wash, conditioner – and options include using the same pump bottles the liquids come in, generic pump bottles that need to be refilled, wall dispensers, or hotel-sized toiletries. These mini-bottles of body wash, shampoo, and conditioner are usually the most expensive option and are often disdained by both hosts and guests for their impact on the environment.
Refillable are economical but time-consuming to refill, especially conditioner, which is too thick to flow easily into a bottle or dispenser. Although some guests prefer bar soap, only tiny bars are economical because most guests won’t use a full-size bar that has been used by a previous guest, so the bar goes to waste.
Bathrooms benefit from small wastebaskets and toilet plungers. Optional but nice-to-have items include cotton swabs, cotton pads, tissues, and makeup-remover towelettes. Noting that some bathroom items appear under the Essentials section below, a cost range for outfitting a bathroom is about $500 to $1,000.
Living Room Products: How to Furnish an AirBNB Living Room
A significant key to furnishing the living room is the maximum number of guests you’ve determined your property will accommodate. If you plan to set your maximum guests at six, you need to be sure you’re providing sufficient seating for six. Typically, a 4-5 person sectional sofa, a couple of stuffed, comfortable chairs, and/or a loveseat can serve guest needs.
When guests want to put their feet up, one or more ottomans may be desirable. You’ll want end tables and possibly a coffee table so guests can put down their beverages and phones. The trend these days is away from carpeting, but if the room isn’t carpeted, you may want one or more area rugs.
You’ll probably want to provide a few lamps to supplement built-in lighting and window treatments (hint: One host we know saves money by using high-end shower curtains, which are easy to install and much cheaper than other treatments).
Unless your main selling point is to offer an “unplugged” atmosphere, a TV is a must for a living room, and if you’re offering multiple TVs at the property, the living-room TV will likely be the largest. If not wall-mounted, you’ll need a furniture piece on which to place the TV.
Décor items will add warmth and interest to the room; Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, garage sales, and secondhand stores are excellent sources for these. In fact, almost everything on the living-room list can be purchased secondhand; buying new is suggested for TVs. Total living-room cost estimate is $1,500 to $3,500.
Bedroom Products: How to Furnish an AirBNB Bedroom
Your biggest cost here, of course, will be the bed frame and mattress, with costs depending on the size of the bed. Secondhand mattresses aren’t a great idea, but bed frames may be. Because a good night’s sleep is critical to guest satisfaction, mattresses are not an area to scrimp on. Neither are pillows, which also add to the cost.
Varying, of course, by the size of the bed(s), the cost to furnish a bedroom can fluctuate significantly. We’ve seen costs as high as $7,000 for a high-end bedroom with all the bells and whistles; the budget-conscious host can expect a range more like $1,500 to $2,500, including TV.
Most hosts quickly realize that the best way to manage time for rapid same-day guest cleaning turnovers is to purchase duplicate (or even triplicate) sets of all bedding items – sheets, pillowcases, comforters, and duvet covers.
Unless you have a system that guarantees all linens and towels can be laundered between the time a departing guest checks out and the arriving guest checks in, you’ll want to invest in multiple linen sets.
Other bedroom costs include bedside tables, lamps, and décor items, all of which can be purchased secondhand. Many hosts furnish a TV in at least one bedroom, such as the primary bedroom. Pillow and mattress protectors are common bedroom items. Blackout window treatments may be desirable.
Home Essentials for AirBNB
Just what are the essentials for Airbnb? A good starting place is Airbnb’s own bare-bones list, which includes toilet paper, hand and body soap, one towel per guest, one pillow per guest, and linens for each guest bed.
If you click on the Airbnb Amenities category, you’ll see many more possibilities; for example, not just hand/body soap but also shampoo and conditioner. A good way to determine what essentials to provide is to ask yourself what you like to see in an Airbnb property when you travel. An Internet search on “Airbnb essentials” will result in multiple lists that hosts and experts have compiled.
Common essentials include an iron and ironing board, hangers, laundry detergent, one or more umbrellas, phone chargers and power strips, luggage racks, a full-length mirror, tissues, paper towels, tampons and pads for women, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hair dryer, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and smoke- and carbon monoxide alarms.
Note that almost none of these items can be bought secondhand; hosts often turn to such sources as Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and even the dollar store for these essentials.
The cost for essentials will vary widely based on how many of these items you decide to stock, but a reasonable average is $500 to $1000. Consider that you can start out with the bare-bones Airbnb requirements and continue to add as you begin to make money. Keep in mind that some items on the essentials list are consumables that regularly need replenishing.
Supply closets fall into two categories – those accessible to guests and those accessible only to host/property managers and cleaners. The largest category of either type of supply-closet items is cleaning supplies, and of these, a vacuum cleaner is the biggest single expense.
Even if your cleaners bring their own supplies or you keep cleaning supplies locked away from guest access, you’ll want to provide a small set of supplies to guests in case they need to deal with messes or spills – broom, dustpan and brush, wet wipes, Magic Erasers, trash bags, traditional or Swiffer-type mop, bucket, rags and/or sponges, hand-held vac, if not a full-size model.
Other items to consider stocking in the guest-accessible supply closet might be lightbulbs, batteries, flashlights, and a simple toolkit. A guest-accessible closet might serve double duty as a linen closet or laundry closet and therefore contain extra pillows, towels, linens, blankets, and laundry supplies, including pre-treatment products for stains, laundry baskets, hangers, oxy products, and dryer sheets. If you supply items for babies, such as Pack ‘n Plays, high chairs, and baby wipes, the guest-accessible closet might be their home.
A supply closet not accessible to guests might include a carpet cleaner in addition to a vacuum. It could also include all the cleaning supplies listed above and more, including toxic substances like bleach. Possibilities include liquid cleaning solutions, glass cleaner, cooktop cleaner, dusting supplies, a step ladder or stool, and toilet cleaner. Extra toiletries might be kept here.
While supply-closet initial costs may vary significantly, consider budgeting $1,000 to $1,500 for these items, including vacuum cleaners.
Cost of Fun Amenities for AirBNB
The category of “fun amenities” can run the expense gauntlet from pricey hot tubs and saunas all the way down to a cheap deck of cards. The sky is the limit, so the host must determine how far to go toward wowing the guest versus keeping costs under control.
Location may be a big factor here; if your rental is in a tourist destination, such as a beach town, where guests are likely to be away from the house all day and find plenty to do, you may not need much in the way of fun amenities. But if your Airbnb is in a locale where guests will be spending a lot of time at the home, you’ll want to ensure they have options for entertaining themselves.
Keep in mind that you may be able to recover some costs by charging guests to use certain high-end amenities, for example, kayaks or golf carts.
In addition to hot tubs, high-end items include ping-pong and pool tables. A popular indoor/outdoor game that is much less expensive is cornhole (tip: Get a weatherproof set; we know a host whose set began to fall apart after just two years, even when put away for the winter).
A multi-use net for volleyball, badminton, and pickleball is an investment that doesn’t cost much. Though some hosts worry about injury and liability, dartboards are a relatively inexpensive option, some with an alternate type of darts that don’t cause injuries. Flying discs (Frisbees) are inexpensive. Check the secondhand options for these games; Play It Again Sports (https://www.playitagainsports.com/), for example, has both online and brick-and-mortar options.
Indoor board games are not cheap when bought new, but people are always trying to get rid of them on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. In fact, some folks are so eager to get rid of not only board games but also puzzles and books (especially kids’ books) that they’ll give them away.
Consider asking in Facebook classified groups if anyone’s looking to give away games – or even ask both online and offline among your own friends. We’ve seen several game donations come about this way. Don’t forget inexpensive decks of cards.
Grills are popular and can be as cheap and simple as a small, portable charcoal grill or as pricey and elaborate as huge gas or pellet grills.
Firepits, too, can range greatly in cost, from built-in brick structures to cheap fire rings (not recommended if you are in a very fire-prone area). A good middle ground is a cauldron-style firepit with a lid. Accessories may include roasting forks.
While not exactly a “fun” amenity, a home-office/work-from-home area has become a popular amenity since the COVID pandemic and would require at minimum desk and chair and would benefit from very fast Internet, office supplies, and storage space.
Because “fun amenities” vary so widely in cost, it’s best to set a budget for what you can afford initially, knowing that you can always add more fun items gradually.
This article has described startup furnishing costs ranging from a low of $5,500 to a high of $9,000 for a one-bedroom/one-bath Airbnb, not including “fun amenities.” Experts say to add $1,000-$2,000 for each additional bedroom. Consider also the $10-$15/square-foot figure introduced at the beginning of the article.
The most important factor is your own budget, including your other Airbnb expenses. Create a spreadsheet with the items you need, price them out, and prioritize what you need based on what you can afford. And remember, you don’t need to do it all at once; you can start out with essential furnishings and supplies and add and upgrade as you grow more profitable.
Look for sales, deals, and freebies. Look for any costs that would be reasonable to pass on to guests, especially in the “fun amenities” category. Don’t scrimp on anything vital to a wonderful guest experience, but buy secondhand as much as possible.