How to Design Your Rental on a Budget

Nov 9, 2022 | Design Tips

It’s the age-old question: how do I get my home to have a designer look without a designer price tag? In the STR industry, the stakes are higher right now and investors are asking themselves this very question to ensure their listings stand out – without breaking the bank. Well guys, given that we’re obsessed with interior design but have been on a budget for oh our entire lives, we just so happen to be very equipped to answer this question: How do I design my rental on a budget? Prepare to be two cents richer! 

Rule #1: Get up and get it. 

Good things come to those who wait. But don’t wait. I am probably one of the most impatient people I know, at least when it comes to turning my house into a home or my rental into a “magazine-worthy” listing. Through much trial and error, I’ve been able to achieve both over the years, and here’s what I’ve learned – when you’re on a budget, you can make a home pretty in the now, and gorgeous later on. 

An online world of beautiful decorative objects and furnishings can be limited to a planet about the size of a pea depending on your budget. FOMO can blur your vision and easily discourage you. I know firsthand how frustrating this can be, but if you learn where, when, and how to find certain things, that pea-size planet has a lot more treasure on it than you may think. 

Get ready for a true booty call, dear reader. 

THRIFT STORES…are your new bestie. And set you apart from the restie.

Rule #2: Be brave.

If you’ve ever been the victim of a near accident resulting from a horrible female driver that took a sudden swerve into your lane which happened to be next to a random thrift store, that was me. My sincere apologies.  

In all sincerity, our designs would be lacking without our frequent stops at any and every thrift store or flea market. We strut those aisles in slo-mo like we’re walking the red carpet…with the boldness and authority of a peacock. Usually in sweatpants. I digress. 

Depending on the thrift shop you enter, I know it can feel like stepping into your great grandmother’s sitting room, or even an episode of Hoarders, but DON’T TURN AROUND (cuz you’re gonna see my heart breaking..). It can and will be worth it! Dig deep for that inner strength, you brave warrior. You are on a mission and you can do this – we’ll make sure of it! With our voodoo. Or guidance or something.

Rule #3: Embrace the unknown.

My favorite part about pulling up to a thrift shop is not knowing what I’ll find. Brass framed photo of a random family of five? Check. Grandma’s basket of ivy? Oh yeah. Well-worn shoes for days? You betcha. But don’t let these smells..err… things distract you from your mission. Hidden amongst all that discarded junk is a fond object that will be the perfect touch for your space. And that, my friend, is how you set your rental apart from the rest.

Now, we understand that entering a store without knowing what you’re looking for can actually have the opposite effect on people and be very unpleasant and stressful, so we’re here to provide you with some focus and direction! Write this down, warrior.

Rule #4: Find quirky objects. 

Vases. Trays. Old books. Wooden pieces. Weird objects. Brass animals. Stools. Antique chairs. Vintage paintings. Even glassware if you need it – especially barware. BAG IT.

You don’t have to know where you’re going to put it. If you find an object – or an object finds you – just get it (if it’s the right price). 

Once you’re home, take a look around. There are probably some holes that need filling in on places like your coffee table, bookcase, or dresser. Check out our Wildcat Pinterest boards for ideas. We be wildin.

Free Photo of Vases Stock Photo

Rule #5: Know thy discount stores. 

  • Dirt Cheap
  • Homegoods
  • TJ Maxx
  • Marshalls
  • Ross
  • Hobby Lobby 
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Big Lots
  • Ikea
  • Target (specifically sale/clearance section)
  • Kirklands (amazing clearance sales)
  • Sarah Sells (Nashville, Memphis, Burmingham)

The list goes on. We have found amazing deals and you can, too! Sometimes it’s hit or miss, but stores like these get new inventory in several times a week, so keep that chin up and those eyes on the prize!

Free Interior of retro styled room with vintage furniture and decorative elements Stock Photo

Rule #6: Think outside of the box. 

Last but not least, you don’t have to be a major DIY-er to think outside the box when decorating your home on a budget. Personally, I’m not a big on DIY because I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, but there are some great shortcuts I’ve learned over the years that have saved me a lot of mula. 

For example, I bought this beautiful calendar earlier in the year and I love the photos so much, I save them once the month had passed. With one picture I particularly liked, I found a frame I already had and cut the calendar print down to size, and voila.  To see the tutorial of this, click here. 

To hang a print with even less trouble, try these magnetic poster hangers (be sure to check the dimensions). 

I also like to look for things like small wooden or leather trays when I’m at a thrift shop; they add a layer of texture that really warms up a space and adds depth to it. Even if you can’t figure out what you’ll use a “found” piece for, if it’s a good price, just grab it. When you get home, play around with different decorative items to see what works. Maybe the tray serves the purpose of holding the remote controls on the coffee table, or a vase on that bookcase, or even a faux airplant. The more you play around with items like these, the more they’ll start to make sense in your space! 

Well kids, I hope you now feel equipped and inspired to go spruce up your rental or home on a budget. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on our Instagram – we love to hear from you! 

Most short term rental owners are overwhelmed with what it takes to design a profitable listing. Wildcat Interior does this for you so you can focus on guest relationships and maximize earning potential. Book a free discovery call.

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