Designing an interior for Airbnb can be a daunting task. After all, you want to make sure that your guests have a comfortable and enjoyable experience while they’re staying in your property.
But more than that, short-term rentals have become incredibly competitive in todays market. So you need to make sure that your Airbnb stands out from the rest – and one of the best ways to do that is to have an amazing interior design.
(Which is all part of your overall marketing strategy.)
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about interior design for Airbnb. We’ll cover topics such as taking measurements, creating floor plans, sketching designs, color theory, textures, negative space, and more!
So whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to improve your skills, read on for everything you’ll need to know.
P.s. if you find this article helpful, we highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the book, “Interior Design Master Class” by Carl Dellatore.
Table of Contents
Basic Principles of Interior Design For Airbnb
The world of interior design can be complex and confusing. Not only are there many different schools of thought regarding the theory and psychology for why things should look a certain way, but there are also an endless array of design styles to choose from.
As an Airbnb host, you likely realize the importance of having a well-designed rental property. But with so many different design options available, how do you choose the right one for your Airbnb?
The short answer: you design for your target traveler.
Keep in mind that the type of traveler who will be staying in your rental will have a big impact on the design. For example, if you’re targeting business travelers, you’ll want to design an interior that is both professional and stylish.
On other hand, if you’re targeting families or groups of friends, you’ll want to design an interior that is comfortable and inviting.
But what does that actually mean? And what does it take to design an interior that is both stylish and comfortable?
In this section, we’ll discuss the basic principles of interior design for Airbnb that many different professionals in this space agree on. By understanding these principles, you’ll be able to create a design that is both functional and visually appealing.
Color theory is the study of how colors work together. There are three main things to think about when it comes to color theory: hue, saturation, and value. Hue is what we usually call the color name, like red or green. Saturation is how bright or dull a color is. Value is how light or dark a color is.
The human brain is wired to respond to color. Different colors can have different effects on our mood and emotions.
For example, blue is often seen as calming and relaxing, while red is seen as exciting and energetic.
When it comes to designing an interior for Airbnb, you’ll want to consider the colors that you use carefully. The colors that you choose will have a big impact on the overall feel of your rental.
It’s why movies are “color graded” – because the different colors in each scene can set a specific mood.
You’ll want to do the same thing with your Airbnb design.
But just picking any random array of colors is not going to give you the results that you’re looking for. There are certain color schemes that work better than others because they’re more visually appealing to the human eye.
Here are a few popular color schemes that you can use in your design:
A color palette is a set of colors that work together. There are many different color palette options to choose from, but here are a few of the most popular:
- Monochromatic: This is when you use various shades and tints of the same color, and is quite popular in modern design.
- Analogous: This is when you use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as green and yellow, or blue and purple.
- Complementary: This is when you use colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. For example, red and green.
- Triadic: This is when you use three colors that are evenly spaced from each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow, purple,
Color can also be used to create contrast. This is when two colors are used next to each other to create an effect, such as making one color look brighter or making an object appear closer.
Contrasting colors are often used to make things “pop” or to draw attention to a specific area, or even to make an area appear larger or smaller.
For example, if you have a white wall and you want to hang a piece of art on it, using a black frame will create a nice contrast and make the art stand out.
If you’re trying to make a small room appear larger, you can use light colors on the walls and ceiling to create the illusion of more space.
And if you want to make a large room feel cozier, you can use dark colors to make the space feel more intimate.
There are many different ways that you can use color to create contrast in your design, so experiment and see what works best for your space.
The 60/30/10 Rule
The 60/30/10 rule is a popular guideline that many designers use when picking colors for their space.
Basically, it says that you should use three colors in your design, and 60% of the room should be one color, 30% should be another color, and the remaining 10% would be your third color.
In the image above, you’ll notice that the walls are grey (60%), the textures are red (30%), and the accent lights are yellow (the remaining color is used to create contrast and make the space more interesting).
This is a great starting point if you’re not sure how to use the colors that you’ve chosen, but remember that you don’t have to follow this rule strictly.
You can always experiment with different percentages until you find something that looks good to you.
Textures play a major role in interior design, and can be used to add interest and contrast to your space. There are many different types of textures that you can use, such as:
- Rough textures: These include materials like stone or wood, and add a bit of warmth to the space.
- Smooth textures: These include materials like glass or metal, and can make a space feel more modern or clinical.
- Patterned textures: These include materials like wallpaper, fabric, or carved tiles, and can add interest and depth to a space.
You can use textures in many different ways in your design. For example, you could use a rough texture on the floors and a smooth texture on the walls, or you could use a patterned texture on the sofa and solid-colored textures everywhere else.
Many Airbnb hosts go overboard and use too many different textures in their design, which overwhelms the space and can make it feel busy. So when using textures, a similar principle to the 60/30/10 rule can apply to create a balance in your design.
Patterns are another way to add interest and contrast to your space. Like textures, there are many different types of patterns that you can use, such as:
- Geometric patterns: These include shapes like squares, triangles, or circles, and can be used to create a modern look.
- Floral patterns: These include images of flowers, leaves, or other plants, and can be used to add a touch of nature to your space.
- Abstract patterns: These can be any type of pattern that doesn’t fit into the other two categories, and are often used to make a bold statement.
Many well designed Airbnb’s like to use patterns as a way to add some personality to the space.
For example, if you’re going for a more modern look, you could use geometric patterns on the walls or in your furniture. Or if you want to add a touch of nature, you could use floral patterns in your bedding or curtains.
Just like with textures and colors, it’s important to use patterns in moderation, as too many different patterns can be overwhelming.
Lines draw the eye around a space and can be used to create different effects. For example, horizontal lines tend to make a space feel wider, while vertical lines make a space feel taller.
You can use lines in many different ways in your design.
For example, you could use horizontal lines on the walls and vertical lines in the furniture to create the illusion of a larger space. Or you could use diagonal lines in the flooring or in the furniture to create a more dynamic look.
It’s important to note that lines aren’t just a byproduct of your own design, but also the architecture of the space itself. The lines of hallways, doorways, windows, and other features naturally occur depending on where the viewer is in the space, and can all be used to your advantage when designing a space.
Visual weight is the perceived heaviness of an object in a space. It’s often used to draw the eye to a particular spot in a design, and can be used to create different effects.
For example, if you want to highlight a piece of furniture or artwork, you could use a heavy object like a dark couch or a large mirror to create visual weight. This will cause the viewer’s eyes to be drawn to that spot, and can create a focal point for the space.
You can also use visual weight to create balance in your design. For example, if you have a lot of tall objects on one side of the room, you could use a heavy object on the other side to create balance.
It’s important to use visual weight in moderation, as too much can make a space feel cluttered or busy. So be sure to only use heavy objects where they’re needed, and use lighter objects elsewhere.
Anchoring is the use of a heavy object to create stability in a space. It’s often used to prevent a space from feeling too busy or cluttered, and can be used to draw the eye to a particular spot.
For example, if you have a lot of small objects on a shelf, you could use a large object like a vase or sculpture to anchor the space. This will make the shelf feel more balanced and prevent it from looking cluttered.
You can also use anchoring to create balance in your design. For example, if you have a large piece of furniture on one side of the room, you could use a small piece of furniture on the other side to create balance.
It’s important to use anchoring in moderation, as too much can make a space feel heavy or cluttered. So be sure to only use large objects where they’re needed, and use smaller objects elsewhere.
Negative space is the empty space around an object. It’s purpose is to create balance and visual interest, and can be used to highlight a particular object or draw the eye to a particular spot.
For example, if you have a lot of furniture in a room, you could use negative space to create balance by adding some empty space around the furniture. This will make the room feel more spacious and less cluttered.
When using negative space with lines, it’s important to create a deliberate line that leads the eye to the object you’re trying to highlight. For example, if you want to highlight a piece of art, you could use negative space to create a frame around it.
It’s important not to overuse negative space, as too much can make a space feel unfinished or empty. So be sure to only use it where it’s needed, and fill in the rest of the space with other design elements.
If you’ve ever seen a room and been drawn to a particular spot, then you’ve experienced the power of a focal point. A focal point is an object or feature in a space that takes center stage and draws the eye.
Focal points can be used to create balance in a space, and can also be used to highlight a particular object or feature. For example, if you have a large piece of furniture on one side of the room, you could use a small object like a lamp or vase on the other side to create balance.
When it comes to designing your Airbnb, focal points are especially powerful when you use them to showcase a particular feature of the room, such as an entertainment center or a beautiful view.
The general rule is to only have one focal point per room, as too many can make a space feel busy or cluttered. So be sure to choose your focal point carefully and use it sparingly.
Lighting is a topic that could be it’s own blog post (and probably will be at some point), because it is one of the most important. But for now, we’ll just touch on the basics.
Just like with photography where lighting can enhance or ruin a photo, lighting can make or break your space. The right lighting can make a space feel warm and inviting, while the wrong lighting can make it feel cold and uninviting.
There are three main types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent.
- Ambient lighting is the general light in the room that comes from things like windows and overhead lights.
- Task lighting is focused light that’s used for specific tasks, such as reading or cooking.
- And accent lighting is used to highlight particular objects or features, such as art or a fireplace.
When it comes to choosing light fixtures, it’s important to consider the style of your space and the mood you’re trying to create. For example, a chandelier would create a different mood than a floor lamp.
It’s also important to consider the function of the room when choosing light fixtures. You wouldn’t want to use a bright overhead light in a bedroom where you’re trying to create a relaxing atmosphere, nor would you want to use a dim light in a kitchen where you’re trying to prepare food.
Natural light is one of the most important factors in any space, and it’s especially important in an Airbnb.
Not only does natural light make a space feel more open and airy, but it can also help to show off your space in the best possible light (literally).
Unfortunately, the architecture of your home will dictate how much natural light you can have, but there are ways to maximize the light you do have.
For example, if you have a small window in a room, you could use a mirror to reflect the light and make the space feel brighter. Or if you have a dark hallway, you could use lighter paint colors or add more lighting fixtures to brighten it up.
If you have a lot of windows in your Airbnb, be sure to take advantage of them by using light-colored curtains or blinds that let in a lot of light.
Pay attention to where the natural light falls throughout the day, and use that to your advantage when deciding where to place furniture or other objects.
The difference between harsh light and diffused light is the difference between a bright, sunny day and a cloudy day.
Harsh light is direct and intense, while diffused light is indirect and softened.
Diffused lighting is often more flattering and can help to create a more inviting atmosphere.
There are several ways to diffuse light in your space, such as using sheer curtains, blinds, or shutters; using Frosted glass; or hanging objects in front of your light source.
If you’re using diffused lighting in a room with a lot of windows, be sure to take advantage of the natural light as well by opening up the curtains or blinds.
Often a byproduct of lighting, shadows can either enhance or ruin a space.
The key is to use shadows strategically to create the desired effect.
For example, if you have a piece of art that you want to highlight, you could use a spotlight to create a shadow on the wall behind it.
Or if you have an area in your space that you want to downplay, you could use a shadow to make it appear darker and less noticeable.
Just like with light, shadows can be used to create different moods in a space.
So if you’re trying to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, you would want to use softer shadows, while if you’re going for a more dramatic look, you would use sharper shadows.
But what are you supposed to do about unwanted shadows? Well, the first step is to identify the source of the shadow.
Is it coming from a light fixture? A piece of furniture?
Once you’ve identified the source, you can either move it or change the angle at which it’s pointing.
If moving it isn’t an option, then you can try using a diffuser to soften the light or adding more light sources to brighten up the space.
Even vs Odds
Have you ever wondered why some spaces just feel off?
It could be because the design is too symmetrical.
While symmetry can be pleasing to the eye, it can also be a little boring.
As they say, variety is the spice of life!
Our human brains are wired to notice patterns, so when we see something that is too symmetrical, our brains automatically try to find the error.
On the other hand, asymmetry is more interesting and can help to create a more dynamic space.
A grouping of 3 is the smallest number of objects that our brain can recognize as a pattern in, because a grouping of 2 is likely only a coincidence.
This is why you’ll often see asymmetrical designs in hotels or other public spaces, as well as odd numbers of objects used in a space. It’s why we use odd numbers for the number of tips a blog post contains, or for the number of items in a product photo.
If you’re looking to add some interest to your space, try using an odd number of objects or patterns.
The 5-7-9 Rule
Speaking of odd numbers, when it comes to furniture placement there’s a general rule of thumb that designers use called the “Five-Seven-Nine Rule.”
This rule states that no piece of furniture should be more than five feet away from another piece, no more than seven pieces should be in a grouping, and no more than nine pieces should be in a room.
This rule is a great starting point for furniture placement, but it’s not set in stone. You may find that you need to break the rules in order to make your space work for you.
For example, if you have a large piece of furniture that you don’t want to move, you may need to group your other pieces around it. Or if you have an oddly shaped room, you may need to get creative with your furniture placement in order to make the most of the space.
Symmetry vs Asymmetry
While symmetry and asymmetry are similar concepts to the evens vs the odds, they’re actually two different things.
Symmetry is when two sides of a space are mirror images of each other, while asymmetry is when the two sides are not identical.
Both symmetry and asymmetry can be used in design, but it’s important to know the difference between the two.
Symmetry is often seen as more formal and traditional, while asymmetry is seen as more modern and creative.
If you’re not sure which one to use in your space, a good rule of thumb is to start with symmetry and then add in some asymmetrical elements to add interest.
For example, you could use a symmetrical furniture arrangement and then add in an asymmetrical piece of art or a rug. Or you can use a symmetrical layout for your room and add in some asymmetrical pillows or throws.
Often, symmetry can be used as leading lines to draw the eye towards a focal point in the space, while the focal point is asymmetrical in design, which can be used to create a more organic and free-flowing feel.
Take note if anything doesn’t feel right and adjust accordingly, because this is a sign that your space is either too symmetrical or too asymmetrical.
Theme-ing Your Airbnb
Now that we know the basics of the theory used for interior design, let’s talk about how to put it all together in order to create a cohesive space.
Many designers over the years have used a combination of symmetry, colors, textures, etc. to come up with different “themes” to design a common mood, feeling, or style in a space.
You could even have a “beachy” theme with light colors and natural materials.
The options are endless, but the key for designing your Airbnb is to choose a theme that fits the location, type of property you have, and more importantly the kind of guests you wish to attract.
If you’re in a beach town, you might want to lean more towards a beachy theme. But if you’re in the city, you might want to go for something more luxurious or modern.
Below is a description of common themes used in interior design, as well as some examples of how you can incorporate them into your Airbnb.
A minimalist theme is all about keeping things simple and clean. The colors are usually neutral, like black, white, and grey. The furniture is sleek and the decorations are asymmetrical, if not minimal.
This theme is perfect for small spaces or if you want to make a big space feel bigger. It’s also a good choice if you want to avoid overwhelming your guests with too much stuff.
To incorporate a minimalist theme into your Airbnb, start by decluttering and getting rid of anything you don’t need. Then choose furniture that is simple in design and has clean lines.
For the decorations, go for something asymmetrical or abstract. And finally, use a neutral color scheme throughout the space, with pops of accent colors here and there.
A bohemian theme is all about being carefree and relaxed. The colors are usually bright and bold, like oranges, yellows, and pinks. The furniture is mismatched and the decorations are often vintage or handmade.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to feel like a home away from home, because it’s cozy and inviting.
To incorporate a bohemian theme into your Airbnb, start by mixing and matching different textures and layers. Then add in some vintage or handmade decorations, like tapestries, rugs, and pillows.
For the color scheme, go for bright and bold colors that will make a statement, with neutral colors as accents.
An industrial theme is all about being raw and edgy. The colors are usually dark, like blacks and greys. The furniture is made of metal or wood, and the decorations are simple but rustic.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to have a more masculine feel, similar to workshop or a loft.
To incorporate an industrial theme into your Airbnb, start by using metal or wood for the furniture and decorations. Then add in some simple but rustic elements, like exposed brick walls or concrete floors.
For the color scheme, go for dark colors with pops of warmer colors here and there. Usually for an industrial theme, you will want to limit diffused light in favor of harder shadows to create a more dramatic look.
A Scandinavian theme is all about being cozy and chic. The colors are usually light, like whites, creams, and blues. The furniture is simple but stylish, and the decorations are minimal.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to have a more modern feel without being too minimalistic.
To incorporate a Scandinavian theme into your Airbnb, start by using light colors for the walls and furniture. Then add in some simple but stylish decorations, like vases or candles.
For the color scheme, go for light colors with pops of darker colors here and there. And finally, add in some greenery to give the space a more natural feel.
A mid-century modern theme is all about being retro and chic. The colors are usually bold, like reds, greens, and blues. The furniture is simple but stylish, and the decorations are often geometric.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to have a more vintage feel without being too kitschy.
To incorporate a mid-century modern theme into your Airbnb, start by using bold colors for the walls and furniture. Then add in some simple but stylish decorations, like lamps or art prints.
For the color scheme, go for bold colors with pops of neutral colors here and there. And finally, mix and match different patterns to create a more eclectic look.
A tropical theme is all about being paradise-like and inviting. The colors are usually bright and bold, like greens, blues, and whites. The furniture is made of natural materials, and the decorations are often palm trees or other tropical plants.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to feel like a true summertime getaway.
To incorporate a tropical theme into your Airbnb, start by using bright and bold colors for the walls and furniture. Then add in some palm trees or other tropical plants.
For the color scheme, go for bright and bold colors with pops of neutral colors here and there. And finally, add in some natural elements, like shells or wood.
A glamorous theme is all about being luxurious and chic. The colors are usually bold and shimmery, like golds, silvers, and blacks. The furniture is often upholstered or tufted, and the decorations are often crystals or other sparkly elements.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to feel like a true Hollywood getaway.
To incorporate a glamorous theme into your Airbnb, start by using bold and shimmery colors for the walls and furniture. Then add in some crystals or other sparkly elements.
For the color scheme, go for bold colors with pops of neutral colors here and there. And finally, add in some luxurious elements, like leathers, velvet or fur.
A rustic charm theme is all about being cozy and inviting. The colors are usually muted, like browns, greens, and grays. The furniture is often distressed or antique, and the decorations are often Mason jars or other country-chic elements.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to have a more homey feel, like a cabin in the woods.
To incorporate a rustic charm theme into your Airbnb, start by using natural colors for the walls and furniture. Wood flooring or walls would be perfect for this look. Then add in some layers of textures, like throws or rugs.
For the color scheme, go for muted colors with pops of natural colors here and there. Lighting should be warm and natural, with plenty of harder shadows.
A fantasy theme is where you can make your Airbnb completely unique. It can be inspired by your favorite book, movie, or TV show. The sky is the limit when it comes to colors and decorations.
This theme is perfect for people who want their Airbnb to be a true escape from reality.
You may have seen the Hobbit house Airbnb that went viral a few years ago, or the Treehouse Airbnb in Georgia. These are both great examples of how you can use a fantasy theme to make your Airbnb stand out from the rest.
To incorporate a fantasy theme into your Airbnb, start by choosing your favorite book, movie, or TV show as inspiration. We’ve even seen Football themes created using a teams logo, jerseys, and footballs as décor with the color scheme to match.
Then decide on the colors and decorations that will bring that world to life.
You can incorporate any of the above styles into a fantasy theme as well, such as a minimalistic Star Wars theme, or a bohemian Harry Potter theme.
No matter what you choose, make sure it reflects the personality and style of the world you’re creating.
Implementing Your Design Plan
By now you probably have a good idea of the style you want to incorporate into your Airbnb. But how do you actually go about doing that?
In this section, we’ll cover some of the basics of implementing your design plan. If you aren’t blessed with the ability to put everything together in your head, you are likely going to need some tools to help you out.
- The first step is to take measurements of the space you have to work with. This will give you a good starting point for when you start sketching out your design plans.
- Once you have your measurements, you can start sketching out floor plans and furniture layouts. If you’re not confident in your drawing skills, there are plenty of online tools that can help you with this step.
- Once you have a basic layout, you can start playing around with color schemes and decoration ideas. This is where your creativity can really shine through. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to experiment.
- And finally, once you have everything planned out, it’s time to start shopping for furniture and decorations. This is where your budget will come into play. But with a little creativity, you can find everything you need without breaking the bank.
When we opened our first Airbnb, we had no idea how to take measurements. We just kind of eyeballed it and hoped for the best. But trust us, taking accurate measurements is crucial if you want your design to turn out the way you envisioned it.
We ended up with plenty of furniture that simply did not fit. Either it was too big and bulky, or we completely underestimated the space and it looked tiny in comparison.
So save yourself the headache and take accurate measurements of your space before you start sketching out your design plans.
The first step is to measure the dimensions of each room. You’ll need to know the length and width of the room, as well as the height of the ceilings, as well as window and door openings.
It would also be good to know where the height of your walls end and ceiling begins, and how much space is between the top of your windows and doors to the ceiling.
Once you have those measurements, you can start sketching out a floor plan. If you’re not confident in your drawing skills, there are plenty of online tools that can help you with this step.
Creating Floor Plans
Once you have those measurements, you can start sketching out a floor plan. If you’re not confident in your drawing skills, there are plenty of online tools that can help you with this step.
A floor plan is basically a to-scale drawing of your room that includes all the important details, such as doors, windows, and furniture. It’s a good idea to create a floor plan before you start sketching in where your furniture will go.
That way, you can make sure that everything will fit the way you want it to, and that you’re not forgetting anything important.
While many people do this by hand, there are also plenty of online tools that can help you create a floor plan. We highly recommend Planner 5D because it’s easy to use and it allows you to create a 2D floor plan and turn it into a 3D design.
Once you have your floor plan, you can start sketching in where you want your furniture to go. Again, there are plenty of online tools that can help you with this step. But if you’re feeling confident, you can always do it by hand.
It would be good to make section marks to break the rooms down into thirds so that you can follow the 5-7-9 rule that we talked about earlier.
Before you begin sketching, we recommend creating a Pinterest board of all the design elements that you love. This will help to give you a clear idea of the overall aesthetic that you’re going for.
Once you have your Pinterest board, you can start sketching out your design. We recommend creating multiple copies of your floor plan so that you can play around with different ideas.
And don’t worry if you’re not an artist. No one is expecting your sketches to be perfect. This is just for your own reference so that you can visualize what you want your space to look like.
Sketching out your designs is always going to be the best way to bring your vision to life. But if you’re not confident in your drawing skills, we recommend using a tool like the Planner 5D mentioned above.
This will allow you to easily make modifications to your design without having to start from scratch every time. You will also be able to create a 3D rendering of your design so that you can see what it will look like once it’s complete.
Finally, once you’re happy with your design, it’s time to start shopping for furniture and décor.
By going through this process, you should have a list of all the sizes and dimensions that you need so that you can easily find pieces that will fit your space.
And now your Airbnb is in the perfect position to get those glamour shots that will help you attract guests from all over the world.
Interior design is a huge part of Airbnb and can be the difference between a full calendar and missing mortgage payments.
By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a space that is both stylish and functional. And remember, the best way to get better at interior design is to practice, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to take your Airbnb to the next level, we recommend checking out “Interior Design Master Class” by Carl Dellatore, which you can get on Amazon.
It’s filled with over 100 design essays by top design professionals, and it’s a great way to learn more about the field of interior design.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about interior design for Airbnb. We hope that this guide has been helpful and that you’re now feeling confident about creating a space that your guests will love.