If you remember one thing from reading this chapter, remember this: there are major differences between rental property furnishings and residential furnishings. You don't believe me? Read on.
The furnishings in your rental property will sustain wear and tear on a much greater scale than your home furnishings. Like it or not, people simply will not take care of your rental property the way you do. It's just human nature.
You must also remind yourself that your rental property is not your home. You must be willing to repress personal taste a bit, in favor of what best meets the needs of your investment. Ask yourself three basic questions concerning the furnishings in your rental property: 1) are they appealing; 2) are they comfortable; and, 3) will they last.
While you are likely to select your home furnishings based primarily on personal likes and dislikes, your rental property furnishing selections must include appeal, practicality, and durability as part of the decision. Your rental property will be subjected to sand, suntan oil, salt water, mud, dropped food, parties, and spilled drinks (grape Kool-Aid is my personal favorite), just to name a few. Windows and doors will be left open, wet towels will be tossed on beds, ice-filled glasses will sit for hours on tables. Do you know the proper furnishings needed to survive this carnage?
One last though before we move on. Consider carefully where you purchase your rental property furnishings. As noted above, there are definite and critical differences between residential and rental property furnishings, and not every salesperson knows, cares or has the experience, to guide you in the right direction. For a variety of reasons, many will sell you the wrong furnishings: they have too much stock of a particular item; their profit margin is higher on a certain item; they simply do not understand the different requirements of rental property furnishings; etc.
If you are like most people, it is very difficult for you to restrict your personal preferences. Consequently, your furnished rental property winds up reflecting too much of your personal taste, and not enough of what the property needs to be successful financially. An interior designer can steer you down the proper path, and avoid this common pitfall. They can point you towards the things that work, away from the things that won't, and in general create a furnishings package that is fully coordinated.
If you're like most buyers, you bought your rental property to provide yourself an occasional gateway, hoping to keep it rented as much as possible to help offset expenses. Using an experienced professional to help maximize the interior impact is a logical step towards achieving that goal.
All this may sound like a bit extra effort, but remember: it's increased money in your pocket if your property is rented more, and refurnished less.
Now let's consider some specifics.
Many of the same principles apply to upholstered furnishings as to carpet. Select fabrics that are attractive, but more importantly, they need to wear well and hide soiling. Avoid light colors and polished cottons, instead steering towards heavier grade, patterned fabrics. The latest advance in fabrics are all-weather fabrics, originally designed for outdoor use, but now making their way inside.
There is no better example of the difference between residential and rental use than a sleeper sofa. A sleeper sofa in a residence gets used very infrequently (assuming your on good terms with your spouse). But in a rental property, the sleeper sofa will be utilized almost daily. For this reason, the sleeper mechanism must be able to withstand the wear of regular use, and the mattress should be comfortable.
A commercial sleeper mechanism and a reversible innerspring mattress are musts. The commercial mechanism will withstand the extensive use (kids like sleeper sofas as trampolines), and the reversible mattress will last longer, and give you a better night's sleep. Make certain that the mattress is rotated and turned on a regular basis for maximum life-span.
While fully upholstered chairs are often used in some areas of your rental property, dinning chairs should not be fully upholstered. Food and drinks are the biggest enemies of dinning chairs and barstools, so though should be given to appropriate fabric protection.
When the seat fabric does become soiled, or you decide to change your décor, simply have the seats (and backs) reupholstered. This is much less expensive than replacing the entire chair. Dining chairs and barstools should be armless unless you have plenty of room in your dinning area. Always keep in mind the scale of the room you are attempting to furnish, and reduce smooth traffic flow through your unit.
Case goods are your tables, nightstands, dressers, etc., and making the correct choice here can greatly reduce how often these pieces have to be replaced. For obvious reasons, case good pieces do not generally have to be replaced as often as upholstered goods. If you buy wisely, that is.
In your living room, bear in mind that there will often be someone sleeping on the sleeper sofa. Those persons need clothing storage, and to utilize the sleeper, they should be able to move the cocktail table easily. If the cocktail table is awkward to move, it may get damaged as people struggle with it. You can accommodate the clothing storage need with a television armoire in your living room. Consider something with a couple of drawers underneath where the television sits.
If you want to create a certain source of complaints, put inferior bedding in your rental property. Since people spend eight hours a day in bed, it makes obvious sense that you choose bedding that is comfortable. In the master bedroom, use as large a bed as possible without overwhelming the room, or restricting the room, or restricting normal movement in the room.