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Vacation Rental Styling

How Much Does It Really Cost to Furnish an Airbnb or Vacation Rental?

“I just bought a 3-bedroom house in North Carolina that we intend to transform into an Airbnb. The house is empty and we are just beginning to buy furnishings. Can you tell me how much it will cost to furnish the whole house approximately?” – 1 Chic Subscriber Marla Christie

Today’s article is a response to 1 Chic Retreat subscriber, Marla Christie, who recently asked how much she should budget for furnishing her vacation rental.

It’s a great question and one we get all the time when working with clients.

Obviously, every budget is different, but one thing stays consistent: virtually everybody underestimates the furnishings budget.


I think it’s because owners tend to account for the big item price tags and ignore the rest. For instance, they assume they need a sofa, but they don’t account for the side table and reading light beside it; or they put a bed and mattress in the spreadsheet without the accompanying box spring, mattress protector and bedding prices.

“Oh, I forgot about that,” they sigh.

There’s always a little more than one expects.

And it all adds up.

In an effort to impart some realism into the equation, I’m going to share a master bedroom – with ALL required elements – we recently put together for a client, to illustrate typical costs.

It’s part of a larger project, a 5-bedroom house in San Diego, we hope to reveal next year. In the meantime, here’s  the nitty gritty…..


vacation rental furniture

Laid-back California design concept

We and our client settled on an airy, laid-back California design concept for the house. People come from all over the world to enjoy the sunny San Diego weather and we felt this theme perfectly reflected the Southern California lifestyle and would be most appealing to people looking to book.


Our client is drawn to canopy beds, the contrast of lighter and darker woods, and tribal rugs. This bedroom’s look is the vibe we are going for:

1 chic retreat features amber interiors

It helps when there’s a clear design direction when decorating a room. This room by Amber Interiors serves as inspiration.

Now that the design blueprint is in place, let’s pull it all together. And I mean everything (you’ll see what I mean).

1. The Bed – $995

We chose a canopy bed because they are a big hit with guests, who view them as extra cozy and luxurious. This one is sleek, neutral, and made of solid pine. It’s a great price for a solid, well-made bed.

Another nice little extra about this bed is the fact that you don’t need a boxspring, so we can erase that expense from the spreadsheet. Yay!

1 chic retreat canopy bed

Nelson Eastern King Canopy Bed $995 from Living Spaces

2. The Mattress – $1,395

Comfort, comfort, comfort is our motto when it comes to mattresses. Do not skimp. Ever! Cheap mattresses, although tempting to keep costs down, are a guarantee of poor reviews. Worship your guests’ backs and deliver high-quality mattresses in all rooms where adults sleep. We have partnered with Custom Comfort to create a mattress that we know delivers incredible comfort for a good price.

vacation rental mattress

Our recent collaboration with Custom Comfort has produced a dual sided mattress with both firm and lofty options. The cover is all natural cotton. The one above is going in our client’s master bedroom.  1 Chic Retreat King Mattress, $1395.

3. The Mattress Cover – $56

Perhaps the best investment in prolonging the life of a mattress is a mattress cover. We recommend the Evolon Elf Brand because it feels like cotton, is washable and breaths well (critical for quality sleep). Always avoid protectors that crinkle. Guests should never notice a mattress protector.

airbnb mattress protector

This dust mite, bed bug and allergen-proof mattress protector from Evolon is the bomb for prolonging the life of any mattress.

4. Four King Pillows – $105 ($52.50 for a set of two x 2)

Always furnish two pillows for each guest, just like hotels do. Why?

  • Many people like to sleep with two pillows – one under the head and one beside them.
  • People like to read in bed and like the support of two pillows.
  • Two pillows on top of each other makes a bed look fantastic when made.

We recommend Standard Textile’s pillows. They offer fantastic comfort and you can wash them and they retain their shape.

vacation rental pillows

We used Standard Textile’s Chambersoft king pillows in our client’s master bedroom. They are fantastically comfortable and retain their shape wash after wash. Set of two – $52.50, 1 Chic Retreat Marketplace

5. Three Sets of Sheets – $352.50 ($117.50 x 3)

airbnb sheets

Centium Satin Sheets are our go-to brand for vacation rentals and Airbnb’s. They withstand wash after wash and feel great.

We use Standard Textile’s Centium Satin sheets. After trying out many more brands than we can count, Standard Textile remains our #1 choice. They withstand wash after wash and feel lovely against guests’ skin.

We recommend three sets for every bed – one on the bed, one out for a wash, and one in the owner’s closet.

6. Two Duvet Covers – $100 ($49 x 2)

Our go-to duvet cover is the Ofelia Vass by Ikea. It’s white and goes with everything. We love it because you can wash it along with your white sheets when needed. Our favorite thing about it though is it always looks crisp, even though it’s naturally rumpled. See this article to understand what I’m talking about.

vacation rental duvet

The Ofelia Vass duvet cover from Ikea is our go-to option. It’s “rumpled elegance” personified.

7. Comforter – $125

We think the most luxurious and comfortable beds are those comprised of a comforter within a duvet cover. It’s just a guaranteed way to make a bed look amazing AND be comforting for guests. We chose a lighter comforter, the Luxsoft Comforter by Standard Textiles, for the milder San Diego weather.

vacation rental bedding

The Luxsoft Comforter, by Standard Textiles, is our go-to favorite for milder weather vacation rentals. $125 1 Chic Retreat Marketplace

8. Two Larger Decorative Pillows – $160 ($80 x 2)

22″ square decorative pillows, one for each guest, are key for a good-looking bed. Not only do they look fabulous, but guests can lean against them while lounging in bed. I sound like a broken recording, but again, don’t cheap out here. Good quality pillows are key for an overall stunning look.

vacation rental pillows

Hmong Tribal Batik Print Textile Pillow. These look effortlessly chic and definitely launch your room into “boutique hotel” territory. $80 each. 1 Chic Retreat

9. One Smaller Decorative Pillow – $125

We like to put one coordinating slightly smaller pillow between our two main decorative pillows. It gives more dimension to a bed and elevates it into superstar status.

vacation rental pillow

24″x14″ Hmong Batik Lumbar Pillow, $125 Etsy

10. Two Nightstands – $490 ($245 x 2)

Nightstands should be in scale with regard to the size of the bed. A king bed requires a minimum of a 24″ width. We chose a distressed chest with a 31″ width, perfect for the large scaled canopy bed.

1 chic retreat cape may chest

The Cape May Chest is an ample nightstand at a bargain price. $245 at Joss and Main

11. One Table Lamp per Nightstand $300 ($150 x 2)

Our client wanted simple, glass lamps in the master bedroom and we agreed they went well with the design concept.

vacation rental lighting

We picked out simple glass bedside lamps with burlap shades. $150

12. Large Tribal Rug – $663

Rugs are critical in bedrooms because people walk around barefoot. We favor going big and placing it under a bed so it sticks out at least 2 feet on either side of the bed, and provides a nice padding at the foot of the bed as well. Our go-to favorites are big tribal rugs, such as this vintage Afsahri. Why? They are virtually indestructible and don’t show stains. They are thick and therefore feel nice under bare feet. They are also a relative bargain considering the size and workmanship.

1 chic retreat rug

12′ x 9′ antique Persian Afsahri rug, $663

13. Chest of Drawers – $250

Dressers are where you can save money if you go vintage. Vintage dressers sometimes need a coat of wax or paint, but in the end, can be of better quality than new dressers in the same price range.

We selected a mid-century chest of drawers that we think delivers great style at a great price.

vacation rental furniture

Mid-century 4-drawer tall dresser, $250 from Loveseat, our favorite San Diego and Los Angeles vintage purveyor. Similar new dressers of this quality would cost well over $1,000, so we saved big here.

14. Bench (for Bottom of Bed) – $675

If space permits, we recommend a bench in a master bedroom or any bedroom used by adults for that matter. Guests can sit on them to put their shoes on or place their clothes on top. They make a room look edited and well thought-out.

Yvet Bench 1 Chic Retreat

Moroccan patterned bench, $650, available through 1 Chic Retreat


15. Artwork – $185

Every bedroom needs some artwork. You don’t need a lot; however, what you do have, must be impactful and beautifully framed. Photography is always a hit with guests, especially serene, stunning landscapes, like this one from Melanie Shaul.

minted art 1 chic retreat

‘Foam from Above’ by Melanie Shaul. Framed in natural raw wood. $185 Minted is one of our favorite sources for art because they offer framing along with the works; it’s very convenient as it eliminates a trip to an art framer.

Word of Warning: Never mount photography on canvas. It’s tacky and ruins a good thing. Stick to traditional, simple frames.

16. Ceiling Light – $239 (on sale)

Pretty ceiling lights are important in bedrooms. We suggest avoiding any light with bare bulbs above a bed. The Capiz from Westelm is large scalded for drama and has a subdued light.

airbnb lighting

Capiz Flushmount Light, West Elm, $239.

17. Dresser Table Lamp – $175

Don’t forget a table lamp on the dresser, folks. Your guests like lots of options when it comes to lighting.

vacation rental lighting

Surya Lamp, $175, 1 Chic Retreat

18. Blackout Curtains – $278

Blackout curtains ensure your guests both sleep soundly and sleep in. Beware though! There are a lot of tacky blackout curtains on the market! We love simple, flax linen blackout curtains from West Elm. They look great and make the room adequately dark. Zzzzz.

vacation rental curtains 1 chic retreat

Belgian Flax Linen Curtain – Natural, 96″ length, $139 each West Elm

19. Curtain Rod – $197 ($180 rod + $17 for rings)

Curtain rods should look handsome, sturdy, and expensive (although they should not actually be expensive). The idea is to make your guests guess that you have not skimped anywhere in the room, least of all on the curtain rod.

This one is one of our fav’s!

The Copenhagen brass curtain rod is handsome as heck with its juxtaposition of wood and brass. $196 Crate and Barrel

20. Faux Fig Leaf and Vase – $58.50

We always put a little greenery in every room and especially favor faux botanicals for owner’s convenience. A chic white vase is always a great choice, especially with the California Casual design concept.

airbnb flowers

This West Elm faux fig leaf is fantastic paired with a white vase. Fig leaf, $31; Vase, $27.50

Grand Total = $6,924

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

However, if you think about each and every one of the elements mentioned, it’s clear you need all of them. If you skimp, the room is going to feel like it’s missing something.

Is there a way to do it cheaper? Absolutely! If you have the time and the inclination to shop Craig’s List, you can reduce price tags on some elements. Read this article on how to do that.


No one likes to think about exactly how much it’s going to cost to furnish an Airbnb or vacation rental, which is exactly why I wrote this article. Breaking down one room sheds some big-time reality light on setting a realistic budget for the rest of your rooms.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Scroll below and let us know! We love to hear from readers!






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