First and foremost, can we just acknowledge how difficult it is to stock and design a short term rental?! There are so many rules, so many design challenges, so much second guessing, so many outside factors to consider, and so dang expensive. I personally stage a few houses a year, whether it be for a flip property or preparing a listing for a client, and each time I find myself being overwhelmed. That is until, I had my ever so faithful checklist I refer back to constantly. My checklist breaks down the rooms, from ceiling to floor, and has item reminders like- lamps, coffee table decor, shelf items, etc. This list has helped me stay organized and sane. But it doesn't make the furniture any less expensive.
p.s. I'm wearing a mask because we are in the middle of a pandemic. And it's required to shop. In stores. Near people. In Oregon.
When considering all the items I need, my first thought is to always to check my local department store clearance section! For me, that's Fred Meyer. They have a close-out furniture section and I can find small items on a regular basis. No kidding, I found a faux solid wood rustic lamp once for $5 in the clearance section! WHAT A STEAL. I had found a similar lamp at World Market for $99! That is not in my humble budget so you can imagine my excitement when the clerk at Freddies rang me up for just the low low price of a Lincoln! If I get creative enough I also find some cute table top decor items in local grocery stores or farmers market, rare but the opportunity exists. Keep reading and find out my must-shop-at places for finding affordable furniture.
Of course there are also some online 'department stores' you can try- Wayfair and Amazon are some of my go to stores. With some clever online shopping paired with the creative ways below, I was able to furnish my 1,200 square foot AirBnb Cabin on Mt Hood for less than $2,500.
1- Home Stagers or Designers Warehouse Sales
This is probably my top choice. Home stagers/designers KNOW what works and what looks good. So naturally the design challenge is a little less complicated. They are constantly updating their inventory and trying to keep up with new trends so they update their warehouses 2 or 3 times a year leaving you with some nicely discounted high end items.
2- Department Store Closeout Aisles
I mentioned this above. Some department stores have great discounts on their furniture that gets turned over seasonally which amounts to big savings for you. To reiterate, yes it may be last seasoned items, but you can definitely make some timeless pieces work. I find pillows, throws, fake plants, utensils/dinner ware, and rugs are always great finds here!
3- Big Name Outlet Stores
Sears Outlet Store used to be a great stop-in for me- especially when I was trying to find good appliances for a cheap price in a flipped-property that I intended to Airbnb out- in other words, a home that needs a fridge. Also.... Right before JCPenny closed down- they moved a bunch of their tools, appliances, and furniture pieces to a warehouse for an outlet shop, a sort of "fall off the truck store." It's a beauty to save $300 on a $900 fridge, I promise. Be in the know of what stores are closing in the area and look for outlet stores- usually in more urban areas around metro regions.
4- Antique Stores
If staging warehouses are my top choice- Antique warehouse shopping is my favorite. Antique stores are usually filled with much older, donated, or warn down items! So if you're looking for that sort of aesthetic, this is a must stop shop for you. Its pricing is one bar up from garage sale shopping but, it's all under one roof- I can easily find several pieces needed to decorate in one trip. Plus the items are usually inspected for care and the pieces are usually worth the extra cost. Nice thing is the prices are never set in stone either, so put your poker face on and haggle, baby!
5- Garage Sales
I know I am talking about the obvious here, but it's worth mentioning. Garage sales are great for smaller pieces- never couches or blankets, stuff like that- they're almost always too warn or too far gone to save. Wood pieces, chairs, picture frames, art, books... all great finds at garage sales and usually for around a buck. Spend less, make more.
6- Estate Sales
Estate sales are different than garage sales, they're usually hosted by professional companies, items are usually cleaned, and they are generally packaged or wrapped for you. Estate sales particularly in retirement communities are my favorite because their quality of furniture I find is much more valuable. The next best spot for estate sales is where the higher priced homes are! Furniture here will give you a lot of mixed choices- the couches are usually in much better condition. Hint Hint.
7- Business Closing Sales
You can find closing sales for companies all.over.the.place. COVID19 has made it even harder for business owners to stay in business. It's sad, but true. And they've got furniture they need to get out of their leased or rented spaces asap. They need to sell these items and quick which means bottom dollar prices for you. This also puts a little money back in their pocket so it's not a total loss. The big bonus here is not many people shop this route. Just be quick because closing sales last less then a couple of days before items end up in the dumpster. You will find stuff like board games, coffee mugs, tables/desks, chairs, curtains, etc.
8- Offer Up / Facebook Market Place
I have two faves and one least fave. Online purchases are probably my least fave. You have to arrange to meet, inspect the item for purchase, go back and forth on the price, and you may not even leave with the item you put all that effort into! Wasted. But all is not lost. Sometimes you can really get a slamming deal. Online purchases are great for smaller items- toys, books, chairs, end tables, and decor/art... sometimes. Some items take cleaning up or fixing, but if the price is low enough- it just might be worth it.
Now go shop til you drop. Just kidding, you're on a budget.