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Airbnb Design Tips to Make Your Listing Stand Out

Planning an Airbnb makeover and don’t know where to start? We list 5 essential steps you can take to attract the right kind of guest.

When rushing to make your home guest-ready, it’s easy to overlook the importance of thoughtful design. Many hosts make this mistake - they throw together some bargain furniture, buy a few decorations from Amazon, and consider it done, forgetting that photos are one of the most important factors guests look at (next to location and price) when booking on Airbnb.

Guests will be able to tell how much thought was put into your rental, and will treat it accordingly. Good design shows your guests that you care about their wellbeing. It also makes them value your space more. Even though it might require some extra effort in the beginning, it will help you attract the right kind of guest, resulting in less damage and more revenue in the long run.

Don’t know where to begin? We list 5 easy steps to start approaching your Airbnb design more thoughtfully. Whether you’re planning a complete makeover or are just searching for inspiration to refresh your space, read on.

1. Come up with a plan

The key to good design lies in a plan. It doesn't have to be too sophisticated, but before you grab a paintbrush, you need to ask yourself a few questions. How do you want the space to feel like? What kind of interiors would match the vibe of the location? And, most importantly, what kind of a guest do you want to attract?

If your target is families with kids, you will want to make your space feel cozy, warm and ideally child-proof. If you’re after young professionals on business trips, a more minimalistic feel and ample working space should do the trick.

Once you know who your ideal guest is, do some research on what they like and start planning. Think of your location too - a marine theme is better suited for the Hamptons than Manhattan, while Victorian furnishings will look out of place in a highrise apartment.

Make sure to decide on your color palette and general style at this stage; and stick to it as you progress, so that the space feels cohesive throughout. You might even want to build a moodboard (or Pinterest board) that you can reference whenever you’re about to steer off track.

2. Build a solid foundation

All good design starts with a solid foundation. That’s also where you should spend most of your budget. Begin with high quality flooring and furniture in neutral tones - they will last longer and go well with any color accents you add later.

Focus on guest experience at this step. Make sure you buy a solid bed frame and a comfortable mattress. Build a kitchen that not only looks nice, but is also functional. When in doubt, opt for minimalism. In rental spaces, it’s always better than too much clutter.

3. Make your house a home

Once you have the basics in place, start adding touches of color and warmth. Think cushions, cozy throw blankets, rugs, table lamps, plants… Often just one or two of those extra details will be enough to make the space look instantly more inviting.

Make sure that those extra touches are consistent with the style and color palette you’re going for. And don’t overdo it - you want to make your home look warm, not cluttered. Ideally, follow the Swedish philosophy of lagom, meaning ‘‘just the right amount’, with a sprinkle of Danish hygge (warmth). Read more on Swedish design principles here.

4. Add a bit of character

Now that your rental has everything needed to guarantee a good stay, it’s time to think about making it a memorable one. How will you make your listing stand out among all the other Airbnbs out there?

As the owners of this Blockbuster Airbnb know, the answer lies in adding some character to your space. Too many hosts try to copy hotels and their uniformly accepted (but ultimately boring) style in their rentals, forgetting that guests book Airbnbs precisely because they’re seeking a different experience.

Start out by determining if there’s anything that already makes your home special; then enhance it by shaping the interior accordingly. Is it in a unique location or neighborhood? Hang local artwork on the walls, and maybe even offer a welcome basket full of local produce. Was it designed by a famous architect, or in a well-known architectural style? Get furniture, tableware or decorations that match those origins. Just make sure you don’t put anything too precious in the space in case a guest breaks it by accident.

5. Be their guide

Lastly, good Airbnb design is all about ease. Traveling is tedious enough - between packing, airport lines and figuring out local transportation - so make sure your guests can just relax when they get to your rental.

A good way to do that is to add signage throughout the space. Print out and frame wifi instructions, then place them somewhere in the living room. Create a document describing your check-out procedure and hang it near the entrance. If you have any security devices (such as the Minut home sensor), let your guests know - it will make them feel more secure.

Thanks to signs, your guests will always have all the information they need at hand, without having to search the app; and you’ll save time answering the same questions over and over again. If you want to take it one step further, you can also create a short guidebook to the neighborhood and leave it on the coffee table or the kitchen island.

Welcoming guests

Finally, once you have nailed your interior design, make sure the photos in your listing reflect that. Ideally, hire a professional photographer to show your home in its best light. As reservations come in, monitor if they’re from people in your target group. Once you welcome your first set of guests, ask them for feedback. That’s how you will really know if the design is working.

Check social media as well. When guests love a rental, they share it with others. Whether they write a favorable review, or post a picture of their favorite room, it’s always a good organic promotion for your home.