I have 3 days to Furnish a STR. What would you do?

34 Replies

Hey all, 

So I am closing on a home today in Atlanta that I plan to stay in for a few weeks out of the year on and off, and rent it out to business travelers via short term leases, Airbnb, etc when I'm home in CA. 

Next weekend I will be out there and have all of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to furnish an empty house. Obviously I'm goign to need help. I'm not an interior designer, nor am I a good assembly guy. It could take me all day to put a bed together. I'm terrible. 

My priority is securing the home, putting up security cameras, Ring Doorbell, Smartlock, getting utilities switched to my name, internet, and the major furniture items (Bed, couch, dressers, etc.)

How would you guys tackle this? Have Ikea furnish the whole damn place and deliver and install? Are there better stores than Ikea that will do this for a SLIGHTLY higher price? I won't skimp on certain comfort items like the beds, coffee maker, etc. Anyone use TaskRabbit before? I like the concept of an Uber for laborers based on a review system. Just don't know anybody who has used them. 

Or should I focus on hooking up with a Superhost and just letting them run with it (costing me a fortune but no headaches). I absolutely don't know what I am doing on STR, and the price was right for me on this property to try it out for a year.



I have done the same and it is possible if you work LONG hours.  Pre-order as much as you can from Amazon (get a prime account if you don't  have one - free 2day shipping) and have it delivered on the day you arrive.  I'm not sure IKEA will provide furnishing services, however it is a great place to buy things including furniture, kitchen items, blankets, etc...  rent a large vehicle or truck - you'll need it if you go this route.  I would look for a furniture warehouse that has a website so you can pick out what you want and schedule a delivery on your arrival day.  Don't forget rugs, nightstands, beds, chairs, tables, etc.... Find a Kirklands store hopefully near by for wall art and items that will spruce your place up for photos.  Speaking of photos, either buy a DSLR or find a photographer to get started - you can always reshoot later, but photos are KEY to your success.  Do you have a cleaner?  Critial or kill your reviews.  I found my on a website called Nextdoor - put in your LA address and search for cleaners or post a request for referrals.  

Best of luck!


@Curtis H.   I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but I guess I'm saying it can't be done well.  I've done a quick setup before but was able to spend a few weeks securing all the items at one house and then drove them up in a uhaul to the new place.  It took a weekend just to setup the stuff I already brought with me.  

Regarding Ikea versus something else, it will depend on the area and who you are renting to.

Either way, I hope you post an update.  Would love to see how you did :)

Do what you can in the 3 days. Go home, and start buying things online. Have them shipped there. Then, return yourself in a couple weeks and set it all up. Anyone can learn to put together a bed.

If not, hiring a superhost or other competent STR owner is a good idea. They'd likely purchase a lot of it on Amazon/Ikea then fly there and stay there for a week or so while outfitting it as a rental. I have done this twice for my own out-of-state STR's. It was hard work and took longer than I thought. But it was actually a lot of fun and if I wasn't employed full-time I'd do it for you -- for a substantial fee.

You said you don't know what you're doing, yet you are closing in 3 days with no plan of action. Hopefully you are willing to shell out for someone to do it.

Perhaps an ideal scenario would be hire an AirBNB co-host and give it to them to run for a year (paying them a %) AS WELL AS paying them a nice chunk of up-front money to do the setup/staging. You kill two birds with one stone. And if they're getting the annual %, they are more likely to agree to do the setup.

Start reaching out to co-hosts and see where it goes.

Don't try to save a buck by assembling any furniture.  Your time is far more valuable.  Find a nearby furniture store that will deliver and assemble IN YOUR TIMEFRAME - some won't be able to deliver as soon as your window.

You'll want/need help.  I've done it before on a short turnaround and there's never as much time as you need.  Focus on the things that you only trust yourself to do (for me, that was setting up the smart lock and other tech items) and farm out the rest.  Have a clear priority list and focus on getting the essentials done - the things you NEED to get off the ground.  Then get people to do the rest for you as you can (whether it's via a handyman, TaskRabbit, or whatever).  

Amazon Prime is absolutely your friend. The more stuff you can get delivered (from Amazon or anywhere else), vs. having to pick up, the better. Excellent advice here from other STR operators. Good luck!

Agree spend that time finding someone who will work with you that's not a lot of time for what you want done.

What about rooms to go and order most all your furniture? They usually have a zero interest for so many months or years.

For the furniture component/furnishings, you may want to reach out to a local staging company.  Spoiler!  Many staging companies have partnership agreements with their product lines and will rotate their current inventories.  They will likely be happy to out-right sell you the furniture they are "retiring".  Large marketing firms also do this with all of their seasonal props (which can include bedroom sets).  Added bonus, staging companies likely have multiple sets of inventory with most of the items you need on hand.  It will cost you, but they also have the man-power to get it delivered, set up, and styled well.  There will be missing components, but it will optimize your time.

For security, I generally just default to ADT.  It is not the most cost effective, but they have remote wireless signals (no need for internet connection) with battery backups and remote viewing capabilities.  If you have a consistent internet connection, less of an issue but we deal with a lot of short-term situations which our local rep was able to help us deal with.  Previously, we went the DIY radio dialer security systems a few times and it just resulted in a handful of headaches.  Resolved that paying for a service is worth the headaches saved.

For lock-boxes, check out Vault Lock's e-lock solutions.  They offer one time pass codes, remote access, tracking, the whole nine yards.  There are all sorts of deadbolt solutions, but the reoccurring flaw with them is the access code has to be changed.  Can be a bear when managing remotely, the vault lock seems to be a solution to that!  DISCLAIMER: We just ordered a handful of these for our properties today (will update when we have some real-world experience to share). 

Amazon offers a 5% cash back card. With the amount of money I spend with them, it's worth getting.

Congratulations on closing on your home @Curtis H.  You can hire someone with design experience/services to take care of all of that for you. If you're going to be using the property as an Air BNB or other vacation rental, that means you need quality, durable furnishings, staged to make guests want to book your place, and (maybe) someone who can be responsible for turnover cleanup. If you're interested, feel free to reach out to me.

Good luck to you.

@Curtis H. Congrats on your deal! First thing, what neighborhood in Atlanta is this home located in? That will determine the level of furnishings you to need to have to compete with other short term rentals in the area. If you’re in a nicer part of town, ikea isn’t going to cut it...and in some more niche neighborhoods there is even a preferred style that people expect. I was born and raised in Atlanta and have been an active real estate agent for the past 7 years. My market is anything ITP (inside the perimeter of I-285) so happy to point you in the right direction on this if your recent purchase is in one of those neighborhoods. I also agree with what one of the other folks on this thread said about contacting a staging company.
How big? First get online see what is local to order from, delivery times etc. Pick one or two places and pick out your stuff. MEASURE doorways for entry and rooms before buying. Second the amazon reccommmendation.

So here in Illinois we have places that will rent you furnishings for a 2 br home for about 350 a month.  Good way to get started and as time goes by replace with things you purchase via the earnings of the Airbnb etc.   If you talk with them in advance the come in and place everything and everything is put together by them   all you would have to do is put the linens on the bed and place settings on the table. 

You guys are so damn awesome. These are all very helpful ideas. I have more money than time in this scenario, but I still have to be smart about it. If anybody has links to good articles showing what items to buy for STR on Amazon, that would be helpful. Also if anyoen knows good staging companies in Atlanta please let me know!

@Kelsey Mandus

I bought in Jefferson Park, which is a hot area for people who work in film/tv since there are several studios (Tyler Perry, Screengems, etc) in the area. I imagine that will be a larger portion of my guests, but who knows. I'm all ears to referrals, but only those with a proven track record doing exactly what I am asking for with STR. They don't have to be top 5 in their field type of stuff, just know what they are doing because they have done it before successfully.

@Mitch Coluzzi

Great great advice sir. Much appreciated. 

@Julie McCoy

Los Angeles stand up! Ha ha. You are so right and I think I won't try to be Superman in this instance. I almost feel trying to get it all done in one weekend is a recipe for disaster. I think my plan is to get the essentials done like major furniture, security, internet, etc, then get the rest done in another round. My first mortgage payment won't be until December 1st anyway, so no need to kill myself.

@Curtis H. Writing this to you from a set... haha  

If you think film/tv will be your main clientele, then my suggestion is focus on what people are going to want for mid-term stays of weeks or months - washer/dryer in unit would be huge, we don't get much sleep or time to do basic chores, so any convenience along those lines is important!  Kitchen essentials for any cooking.  Speedy internet and a really good TV for those who need to view footage would be important, and an Apple TV for easy casting of video from laptop to screen.  Dedicated parking and BLACKOUT CURTAINS.  

A lot of this is the same kind of thing any STR should have, but film/TV pros will especially appreciate things that will maximize their sleep time (at any time of day) and streamline everyday life chores like laundry and cooking. :)

@Curtis H. I would go to a large furniture store and tell them you want to buy a lot of floor models and have it delivered in 2 days. Ask for discounts. I manage a furniture store in Washington, every large furniture store has at least 2 or 3 rooms in each department that they need to liquidate. Obviously floor models are in stock. I would also try to stay away from particle board like ikea. You are out of state and furniture repair will cost you more in the long run. Pay a little extra for something decent, get a deal on it because it’s a floor model, and pay for the delivery and set up. Most stores can deliver in 2-3 days.
@Curtis H. Rooms to go is a competitor of ours so I’d hate to recommend them but they might be perfect for your situation. We are not in Atlanta

Order your beds from Casper, Necter, Tuft and Needle, Purple or one of those other high quality but affordable foam bed websites.  They deliver super quickly and on time.  And order the frame that goes with the specific bed you're ordering too.  It'll all arrive in easy to unpack boxes with minimal packaging, are so easy to put together (literally like unfolding two things and snapping a couple other things together), and are incredibly comfortable.  We got a Casper for our daughter as her first real bed and had a great experience with that.

I'm also a fan of OfferUp, depending on the item you may get someone who's willing to deliver the item for a small fee.  You may be better buying high quality used items in good condition vs. low quality brand new items.  

@Julie McCoy

You speak my language I see! Must be a Hollywood thing :-)

Yes I too am in the industry and those suggestions are dead on. Especially the blackout curtains. I always forget about the wrapping at 3am so yes sleep is CRUCIAL. Even some nice earplugs or white noise machine could be a nice touch (I think the neighbor has dogs from what I was told). 

@Brad Sicoli

Yeah I really don't want to go the IKEA route. While I don't have a ton of money, I have even less time. So I want things that won't need repairing anytime soon and can take a beating. 

@Michael Doerr

That is not a terrible idea AT ALL. I'm not trying to make a killing on this place, I really just want to pay the PITI and maybe a couple hundred profit after ALL expenses are paid. PITI is about $1100, or about 10-15 nights rented short term after all expenses and the furniture rental. I've heard short term film industry leases for a place like mine can fetch about $2200 per month furnished. $250-$300 a month is chump change and keeps my initial out of pocket low. Hmm. Food for thought.

I have furnished my AirBnB with cort.com. This is retired rental furniture, they set up everything for me, cost <4k to fully furnish 3 bedroom house.

If you have a smart look, you need a way to enter/delete codes remotely. You need to buy a hub. Also, buy nest or some other thermostat that auto turns off AC when tenants aren't there. Saves a lot of money in hot/cold weather.

As far as furniture assembly goes, my wife bought us a bed from Wayfair and Wayfair had an assembly option through Handy. Two guys came in and put the bed together in 30-40 minutes. Would have taken me two hours by myself.

This is how we furnish our STRs. My wife and I take our trucks and a trailer with an appliance dolly to an estate auction. We buy all the furniture and appliances we need to set up an STR. Gas grills, patio furniture, artwork and other things like that are bonus items. We have them on the trailer by 2:00, and they are in the house by 5:00. A good place to find labor is outside a box store first thing in the morning.

@Curtis H. I am a superhost and currently preparing my entire condo for superbowl in 2019 . All the while still renting out my guestroom/bath on Airbnb. My place is in an area called Castleberry Hill (downtown Atlanta). I’ve found that spare linens, coffeemaker (with coffee supplied), bath towels, hair dryer, shampoo, soap, tissue, paper towels, bottled water, and if you want to add an extra touch...a bottle of wine. Not endless supply but enough for a day or so. I’ve been more amazed at my client’s feedback about how much these small touches made their stays smoother and convenient. In the end, this has helped with my reviews and being a superhost over the past two years. I’m picking about my place so I do my own cleaning and prep. All the other advice you’ve received about furnishing your place sounds great so I have nothing to add there. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!!
@Sharon M.*picky

I have Zinia Green Tea mattresses in most of my rentals now, you can get them on Amazon, only a couple hundred bucks and I love them more than the Casper I sleep on every night.  For locks I like RemoteLock - it'll connect to your wifi without a hub and I can program them remotely.  The online interface is a bit clunky but it does the job, and the only issues I've had is right now my router is going bad at a cabin so it's having trouble connecting (the issue is with the router, not the lock).  However, the codes already on the lock are still there, so guests can come and go none the wiser.

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