How to Turn Your Spare Room Into a Rental

Sophie Miura

Rental rooms are without doubt having a serious moment in the spotlight. This week, Super Bowl queen Beyoncé Knowles gave a social media shoutout to Airbnb to thank the company for her stay at its $10,000-a-night rental property in Los Altos, California, for the big game. The homestay start-up doubled its rentals over the last year, and now boasts over 1.4 million listings worldwide. So, it’s no surprise that there’s a boom in people turning their spare rooms into a rental space: It’s a simple way to create income and meet new people from around the globe. Scroll down for five fuss-free ways to turn your spare room into a stylish, versatile rental.

Travelers need ample storage space, but a common rental design mistake is misjudging the type of storage. Short-stay guests will likely leave their belongings in a suitcase and hang a few select items. Rather than take up space with a big wardrobe, opt for a modern, minimalist clothing rack or small closet. A nightstand with bench space and a catchall for jewelry and valuables will give the room a homely touch. Keep corner space free so suitcases can be discreetly stored away from high-traffic areas.

To make sure your room is practical, test it out yourself. Airbnb host Scott Shatford says he stays in his own rental every few months to make small improvements. "I put myself in the shoes of the most demanding guests and experience the home just as they would," he told Smart Company. "Whether it’s adding an extra blanket or including a bedside charging station, I’m always looking for those small and inexpensive improvements that can make a big impact," he says.

Bungalow 5 Tansu Nightstand ( $1185 ) ($799)

Clare V. Catch All ($169)

A simple way to breathe life into a pre-loved space is by updating the lighting. Homepolish designer Justin DiPiero says the key is layering light. “There should be general lighting supplemented with task and mood lighting. If your space has an overhead light, add a table or floor lamp,” he tells MyDomaine. Light can also be a great way to create the illusion of a bigger space. DiPiero says to get creative by “adding small puck lights to bookshelves or a string of bistro lights; it can go a long way!”

DiPiero has one lighting non-negotiable when designing a guest room: The color must be right. “When renting your room, you want your guests to feel at home. Don't use fluorescent lights as they come off cold and sterile,” he says. Instead, opt for incandescent bulbs for a warmer glow.

Arteriors Yasmin Table Lamp ($672)

Workstead Brass Pendent Light ($675)

When styling your space, consider what short-term travelers in your area might be looking for. Popular Airbnb properties often have dual-purpose features. Something as simple as a well-lit side table that doubles as a makeup space (or a dining table styled with stationery as a work desk) makes the room far more versatile. Swap chairs for stools that can be tucked away or stacked for extra space.

A well-positioned folding screen can also help create a dual-purpose room. Budapest-based interior design firm Position Collective transformed 323-square-foot room into a self-sufficient rental using dividers. To maximize the space, the design team elevated the bed and used a transparent fabric screen to visually segment the kitchenette from the bedroom.

Douglas and Bec Folding Stool ($289)

Giorgio Fendon Desk Set ($248)

As guests come and go, it’s inevitable that some décor will become worn and need special cleaning. Opt for accents that are removable, such as a rug. Rugs are easy to clean (or replace) if a tenant is messy, and if you have wooden floorboards, they will help curb noise. What’s more, if you decide to convert your rental space back, it’s easy to give the room a quick makeover by removing the statement piece and feel like it’s your own again.

When decorating, keep in mind the broad range of guests your space might attract. A gender-neutral palette is ideal and allows you to experiment with striking colored or patterned pieces. Start with a neutral or monochrome palette and enhance it with bold accents that add personality.

Kufri Tamarlane Rug ($600)

Savannah Rug ( $89 ) ($59)

A few personal touches could mean the difference between a beaming review and a mediocre one. There’s a reason why Airbnb’s Netflix and Chill room has gone viral: It offers an experience, with small extras like a projector and speaker system. Go beyond guidebooks and travel pamphlets, and style a side table with chic coffee table books, games, and a basket of travel essentials like spare chargers and earplugs. “It doesn't have to be a five-star hotel, but think about what you'd like to see if you were renting a room,” says DiPiero. “Fresh flowers on your guests arrival are key. Leave a pitcher of water and a glass by the bed and always make sure you have clean sheets and ample supplies on hand, should your guests forget anything.”

Juniper Books x Goop New York City Book Set ($685)

Serena & Lily Signature Backgammon Set ($198)

Have you transformed your spare room into a rental? Share your decorating tips with us in the comments below.

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