The less you have, the better the experience for you and for your guests.
The Bedroom: What You Really Need
A Comfortable Mattress
This is the most important piece of furniture in your entire home when it comes to hosting Airbnb guests. It must be comfortable to sleep. More importantly, it must be clean. This is the one area NOT to skimp on when you are setting up your space.
The bed frame style isn’t as important as long as it works in the space.
An Eye-grabbing Comforter
I strongly recommend a bright beautiful comforter that will really pop in your photos of your listing. Bed Bath and Beyond has 20% off coupons regularly, and their stock of comforters is quite trendy. Look through their website for ideas of comforters that really stand out, since 90% of Airbnb listing photos are a photo of the bed. This is one area where you absolutely don’t want to skimp, but you can definitely get a great king set for $100 or less.
I do shake the comforter out once a month. If it gets any stains, I spot clean it. I once had a guest stain a comforter heavily with baby vomited, and I had them pay to replace it. You might consider a duvet cover if you want to wash it regularly.
High Quality Sheets
The color isn’t as important as the quality. I have 500 thread count sheets for my two king beds, and my guests rave about them. They’ve stood up well to a year and a half of guests. I actually got them for free off of Craigslist from someone who was cleaning out their house. This is a worthy investment if you’re serious about getting good reviews and repeat traffic. I also sleep in 500 thread count sheets, but I bought dark blue ones to match my ocean theme in my bedroom. Ahh, luxury.
For my twin beds, I have simple white twin sheets that I picked up at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for about $15 a piece. They are the soft microfiber. Don’t be afraid to unzip the package to feel the sheets before you buy them. (Just don’t go taking them out or unfolding them, and make sure you close the package back up again.)
The number one rule: Keep them clean! Wash them in between every single guest, and don’t let them sit around on the floor, in the dryer, etc.
This sounds obvious, but guests need a space next to the bed for their phone, books, tablets, etc. If the bed sleeps two, get a nightstand for either side of the bed. I used to only have one nightstand in the room, and then one day my kitchen was missing a chair. The guest had taken the chair into the bedroom to use as a second nightstand. Oops! I promptly purchased two simple IKEA Lack end tables. The clean easy lines work well in the space. As pieces of furniture, they are really easy to move and keep clean.
I originally had a night table with drawers, but I started finding guests would leave food or trash in them. Other times, there were spills that weren’t cleaned up. I wouldn’t always remember to clean them out in between guests. I realized (after plenty of unwelcome surprises for the times that I did remember) that it was time to get rid of the drawers.
You can put a lamp on one, or both, or neither. On the one hand, it’s an extra thing to clean. On the other, some couples want to be in bed even if they aren’t both going to sleep, so a small lamp allows them to turn off the overhead light. I got a pair of lamps for $25 from OfferUp for the master bedroom.
An Empty Closet or an Empty Dresser
Guests need some room to settle in and unpack. I’ve found that empty closets work really well for helping guests feel at home. I keep a bunch of wooden hangers in each closet. If you don’t have an empty closet in the room, empty the closet. This is a great chance to pare down stuff you don’t use and find another space for the things you do. After all, you don’t want to walk into the guest’s bedroom every time you need something.
Still no empty closet? The next best thing is an empty armoire or a dresser. Every single bit, empty for guests to use. It will make them feel comfortable and at home.
I would not recommend both a dresser and a closet for two reasons. First, more places for guests to leave things they can forget. Second, more things to clean in between guests. Third, sometimes guests don’t want to completely unpack a suitcase, and they need floor space for their bags. Fourth, your room may feel a little emptier, but the space is really quite luxurious. When there is not a lot going on, it gives the mind time to rest and relax.
Consider: A Mirror
My closet doors are actually mirror doors in every room, which really help make the space feel bigger. However, a wall mirror is also helpful for guests. That way, they don’t have to venture to the bathroom every time they want to use a mirror.
Shared bathroom? Definitely get a mirror. You don’t want to wait an hour for the toilet while your female guest is putting on make-up.
Consider: A Sitting Chair
Sometimes a nice chair can really add to the comfort of a space. Some people like to go to their bedroom to get away from guests, but aren’t quite ready for bed. Other people like to sit on a chair when putting on their shoes. I would not recommend adding a chair into the space for the sake of having a chair, but a lovely comfortable chair (and possibly another end table) that matches the room’s décor is a nice touch.
Don’t put in a chair if there is not a lot of empty square footage. Remember: Less is more.
Consider: Art on the Walls
When you have so little in the way of furniture, it can be hard to show your space’s personality. However, end table figurines can be broken and get in the way, glass vases and dresser top objects get dusty and take extra time to clean or get moved and have to be put back, and a lot of people don’t like clutter. Art on the walls solves every one of the problems. First, nothing to move. It’s attached to a wall, and it’s completely out of the way. Second, it adds personality to an otherwise empty space.
What Else? Nothing.
I literally mean nothing. Don’t stick random odds and ends or furniture that doesn’t fit somewhere else into the bedroom. Instead, sell the odds and ends, pocket the cash, and let your guests pay you more to enjoy the luxury of nothing.
If Your Guest Doesn’t Have Kitchen Rights...
A mini fridge, a small coffee maker, a couple mugs, and a small microwave will be a valuable addition to the space. However, it’s a much nicer experience for a guest to be allowed into the kitchen. It makes the entire experience feel more comfortable and luxurious. Many of your guests won’t be home much anyway, or will often go out. I’ve never had a problem with sharing a kitchen on my Airbnb travels.
If you are still on the fence about kitchen access, consider: not allowing kitchen access guarantees they will be eating in the bedroom, which means a potential for spills and stains they don’t clean up for a week. At least if it’s in the kitchen, you will see it and be able to clean it up and address it with the guest.
Bathrooms Need Minimalism
Germs spread really fast in the bathroom. Make sure any surfaces and objects are cleaned regularly, and don’t keep any sort of trinkets in the room. It’s fine to put art on the walls, but you don’t want anything else in there that people can touch with unwashed hands.
Empty, other than soap and one small basket of toiletries for them to use if they’ve forgotten anything. Clean the mirror regularly. Clean the counter thoroughly between each guest.
If you are sharing a bathroom, use a tub for your stuff that you pull out as needed, and always put your stuff away after. Clean the bathroom daily if it’s shared, or you will end up with poor reviews (even if they guest is the dirty one).
One shampoo, one conditioner, one body wash. That’s it. Do not use bars of soap for guests, because they are not as hygienic. I use Aussie shampoo and conditioner and have dollar store body wash. It’s what I use for myself, so if a guest were to complain, I would simply advise that while I feel it’s good enough for me, they are welcome to buy their own.
If you are sharing a bathroom, you can allow the guests to use your soaps. It shows good will, and the portion your guests use can be written off for tax purposes. If you have things you don’t want your guests to use, put them away. Put away anything else, including razors or other shower essentials. I recommend a shower bucket that you can pull out easily.
Make sure extra toilet paper is easily within access. Clean the toilet well in between each guest group. Consider putting a plunger and a toilet brush next to each toilet. Don’t put trinkets on top of the toilet.
Minimalism and Dining
Invest in a nice table and chairs. Get the largest size reasonable for the space. Too small, and it will look bare-bones. Too large, and it will feel overly massive. Don’t clutter the space with a bunch of extra furniture, side tables, buffets, etc. It is just more to clean for you in the long run. My only décor is art on the walls. Again, it’s something that doesn’t have to be moved, is not at risk of breaking, and won’t end up damaged later.
Clean off your table. A table runner, placemats, and one centerpiece can be a nice touch. However, if a guest wants to use the table, it’s no fun to move things. It makes a space look messy and disorganized. Additionally, items can be dropped or break, and sometimes guests don’t know where to move items to or don’t remember to move them back.
Salt, pepper, and napkins on the table can be helpful, but I still keep mine in a cabinet. If someone needs them, they will find them. I’d rather not have salt and pepper sitting out to get knocked over, and some people are using the table for games or other things where they would just get in the way and have to be moved. Additionally, a nice salt and pepper shaker are at risk of breaking when being moved, and the store containers they come in aren’t very pretty.
Minimalism in the Kitchen
Leaving out a coffee maker is a good idea because so many guests use it. Otherwise, aim for empty counters. Empty space is the most luxurious thing you can have. That means making sure that every object has a home and putting it back in its home.
Make sure your cabinets are organized well. Buy quality kitchen items that can withstand guest use. Don’t have three tools that do the same job, but instead pare things down. Remember that if something breaks, your guests will usually pay to replace it. Guests don’t always clean up perfectly after themselves, so the less duplicates you have that aren’t cleaned properly, the better. (Extra note: Put away anything fragile that you’d be devastated to lose and can’t replace. I switched out the door handle to my pantry with a handle that has a key, and I lock up my grandmother’s vase and some hand-blown glass from back in my art days.)
Whether your kitchen is stocked like a dorm room or you’re a gourmet chef, a guest will make do with what’s there. All you “need” is empty space in the fridge and freezer, a bottle opener and corkscrew, a pot and a pan if you have a stove, a baking pan and cookie sheet if you have an oven, some cooking utensils, a couple plates and glasses, and silverware. Be mindful of knowing your clients and advertising appropriately. If you have the bare minimum, don’t advertise a “well stocked” kitchen. If you want big families in a luxury space, you’ll need to stock the kitchen appropriately or risk negative reviews.
I keep magnets from my travels on my fridge, and have a couple photos, but otherwise the fridge exterior is empty.
Minimalism in the Living Room?
Seating, a living room table, and a TV are the bare bones.
Compared to all the minimalism in the rest of the house, my living room is a lot more decorative. I have a couple photos from my travels, my collection of sand from the beaches I’ve visited, holiday décor when appropriate including a giant spider web for the windows, magazines under the living room table, a couple figurines in the windowsill, and other things that make me feel at home. When it comes to the pillows and throw blankets, there are plenty. In my living room, I instead remember the concepts from minimalism: having plenty of empty space on the living room table, not overcrowding the front table with my sand collection, and not putting so many pillows a guest can’t find a seat. I find this a comfortable balance for me and for guests. At the end of the day, remember that it’s your home, and you can decorate it however you choose. Minimalism makes things easier and more comfortable for guests, but if that’s not you, and that’s not the way you want to live, then it’s not worth it.