Home Design Your Best Life - 52 Week Series Finding Freedom Week 26: Equipping Our Vacation Rental

Finding Freedom Week 26: Equipping Our Vacation Rental

by Phia @ Freedom 101

So we’d defined our search criteria. Found the perfect place. Managed to get a firm purchase contract. Suddenly we found ourselves facing the slightly overwhelming task of equipping our vacation rental. In just 3 weeks.

Why such a tight time frame? Well, we’d scheduled movers to take everything up to the property at the beginning of the New Year, in hopes that we could get the property set-up and rental ready before our annual trip to Hawaii.

Which had been long booked, and was rapidly approaching.

We’ve stayed at our fair share of vacation rentals, so we wanted to incorporate aspects of our favourite experiences into our own property. First and foremost, we wanted things to feel comfortable and luxurious. Both for our own stays, and for our future guests.

That meant we wanted high quality products, with great durability, but at reasonable prices. Oh – and it all needed to arrive at our house in less than three weeks. Fortunately for us, the majority of the unit came furnished, with a basic kitchen set-up.

To complete the furnishings, and on site amenities, we set an aggressive budget of just $15,000.00.

Thank goodness for Google. Mike and I dove headfirst into researching recommended mattresses, bedsheet’s, pillows, linens, you name it.

Where to Start???

Ok – when it came to equipping our vacation rental, the obvious place to start seemed to be with the existing furniture.

What came with the property that would work with our overall plan?

Fortunately for us, the answer was, almost everything. The living room was fully equipped, and would merely need some accent decor/artwork, and a couple extra chairs.

It was a similar story in the dining room.

The kitchen came with all the major appliances, and some basic dishes/pots and pans etc. But we would need to purchase small appliances, tupperware, a proper knife block, and few other odds and ends.

The bedrooms were where we really needed to do some work. The master bedroom was well set-up, but the bed situation in 2 and 3 wasn’t going to work with our overall goal of being able to have two families stay at the same time.

We’d have to remove the existing full and single beds that occupied those rooms, and upgrade them to a second master bedroom, and bunk room.

First Up – Buying the Beds

In order to purchase the bunk bed, and the queen bed, we checked out a TON of places. Direct Buy, Ikea, Costco, Wayfair, Amazon, and a long list of local furniture stores.

While the cheapest options were definitely at Ikea, they also looked like they came from Ikea. For solid wood products that were a step above, but still reasonably priced, I found Wayfair offered the best options.

We picked up a solid wood, navy blue twin over twin bunk, complete with a third twin trundle on sale for just $940.78. And a solid wood, white coastal queen bed frame, also on sale, for just $671.99. Both had the higher end feel we were hoping for, but with a very beachy, cottage vibe.

Next Up? Mattresses

This was probably the most research intensive purchase we made. With so many options on the market, and a ridiculous range of prices, it’s hard to know what’s what on the mattress scene these days.

We wanted something super comfy for us, but that would appeal to a wide range of preferences too. We also wanted something that would last a long time, and hold up to the wear and tear of short term rentals.

After reading endless online reviews, we narrowed down our options to Ikea, Sleep Country, Endy, Casper, and Nectar. With the last three being online mattress companies.

We tried the Ikea options. They were decently priced, but frankly, we found they didn’t look great, and weren’t super comfy. Sleep Country has tons of options from all the major mattress brands, and we’ve bought from them on multiple occasions before. But with the rise in online mattress companies, the brick and mortar stores just can’t offer competitive pricing.

That left us with the online mattress companies.

Unfortunately, our top pick, Nectar, doesn’t ship to Canada. They would definitely have been our first choice. With a forever warranty, and a 365 day trial period, they blow everyone else out of the water.

Down to Endy and Casper. Both Canadian made, which is awesome, and affordably priced. Mike and I were pretty nervous to order a mattress we hadn’t tried in person. But as it turns out, you CAN try these companies out before buying. I guess they’ve figured out that some people NEED to try out a mattress before they are willing to make a long term commitment.

Endy teamed up with Urban Barn, and because they only have one mattress style, it’s super easy to pop in to your local Urban Barn and test one out.

Meanwhile, Casper has teamed up with a number of stores, and all three styles were available to try out at our local Hudson Bay.

We both prefer a firm mattress, so the Endy was heads and shoulders the winner. The Hybrid Casper was nice, but still a bit too soft, and almost double the price of the Endy.

Taxes in we picked up one queen and two twin mattresses for just $2279.20. Not bad.

If you’re in the market for a new mattress, definitely check Endy out. If you decide to buy, please use my referral link. You’ll save $55.00, and I’ll earn a referral fee. Win-win 🙂

Getting Rid of The Old Beds/Frames

The beds that needed to go were both high-end, and had hardly ever been used. We couldn’t bear the idea of disposing of them.

Instead, we decided to keep the full bed and use it for when our toddle grows out of his little bed (which is coming way to quickly).

And we were also able to find a local family who was in need of the twin bed. They were able to arrange to come and pick it up from the cottage, which was a huge help to us, and they were very happy. Win – win!

Linens & Towels

On to linens and towels. Turns out you need a lot of linens and towels to run a short term rental. After talking with the cleaning company we had sourced out through local referrals, we decided the best option was to have two sets of EVERYTHING.

Essentially, this would ensure that even on tight turn arounds, the cleaners could just strip all the linens, set up the second set, and take the dirty stuff away for offsite laundering. This would also ensure we wouldn’t be paying hourly fee’s to have a cleaner sitting on site waiting for laundry to finish, which is a common occurrence.

Since we were planning for the cottage to house up to seven guests with a total of five beds, this translated to a hefty amount of linens. We ended up buying:

We wanted this stuff to feel nice, but for really good prices. We also wanted it to be able to survive repeated washing AND be easily replaceable when needed.

After some extensive price comparison and product review research, we settled on buying almost everything from Amazon. A large chunk of it was from the Amazon Basics collection, which is affordable and well reviewed. Because I have an Amazon Prime membership, all the shipping was free, and took only a few days.

After having unpacked it all, and put it through it’s first wash, I have to say I’m super happy with our selection. It feels high end, without the high end price. All in – we managed to get everything for $1648.52.

Small Appliances / Kitchen Stuff

Then we moved on to equipping our vacation rental with everything we needed in the kitchen department. Fortunately the property came with some nearly new plate wear, utensils, glass ware, and pots and pans from the previous owners. So we started our purchases with small appliances and a high end knife block.

While Christmas doesn’t seem like the best time to be doing all of this, the sales worked in our favour. We waited for a mass sale at Canadian Tire, and managed to pick up a $700 21 piece Lagostina set for just $139.99, and a $200 Ninja blender for just $99. With the addition of a knife sharpener to go with the block, after taxes, eco fee’s and all the jazz, those items rang in at $279.71.

While we generally prefer Henckle knives, the deal and quality of the Lagostina’s couldn’t be beat. Plus it was nice to get a set that had eight steak knives, rather than the usual six. Making sure we had enough on hand to exceed our maximum guest allotment. We also prefer Vitamix blenders over anything else, but we knew it would break our hearts to spend $800+ on a blender, and then find that renters had ruined the non-dishwasher safe jug. So affordable ice crushing (and dishwasher safe) Ninja it was.

For appliances, we sprung for the looks first baby blue Smeg toaster, coffee maker and tea kettle. This stuff isn’t cheap. But it sure is beautiful. And it certainly jives with our overall beachy/cottage vibe.

Luckily we were able to find a store that had them all on sale for 20%, so we saved a few bucks there. At a total of $656.52, it was definitely our indulgence purchase for this property.

Some bakeware, cutting boards, Tupperware, a popcorn machine, miscellaneous kitchen gadgets and $440.52 later, we had outfitted the kitchen to meet the needs of even the most discerning cook.

Patio Furniture

Luckily the patio also came equipped with several composite Adirondack chairs, a sofa/chaise lounger, and a nice Weber BBQ. Saving us several thousand dollars in purchases right there. But the previous owners didn’t want to leave a beautiful patio table and chair set, so we were stuck replacing those items.

We looked at THOUSANDS of table sets online. Finally, we found what we were looking for on an obscure website I had never heard before called Article. The table was a bit pricey at $1668.22, but it was the exact farm style that we were looking for.

We bought chairs separately, and after scouring multiple websites, we landed on a set of chairs from Canadian Tire. Priced at $175.00 a chair, we waited until Boxing Day hoping for a sale, but no luck. Six chairs rang in at $1108.60.

Door Lock – Yes This Is Uber Important on A Short Term Rental

We knew we would need to get a remote lock that we could access from home. So after a ton of research and product comparison, we decided on the Encode by Schlage.

This is not your average lock. With built in wi-fi, and no bridging connector required, this lock allows you to remotely add and store up to 100 door codes. Open/close the door remotely. Receive automated notifications every time the door is opened, and by whom. AND restrict codes to various time frames and days. IE: the cleaning company gets their own code, that only works during the days/times we specify within the app.

Essentially, this thing is a short term land lords dream lock.

It’s also not cheap. $349.00 before tax.

But Mike managed to work his Craigslist magic, and found one for $160.00

We already love it so much, we’re buying one for our house, and another for our current tenants. It’s amazing.

Decor & Artwork

Because making wooden signs is one of my hobbies, we were able to save a decent amount of money on decor by pilfering through my existing stock, and making a few new custom pieces.


We also went shopping at a couple stores that were closing out, and managed to pick-up some additional lamps, art work and decor for $689.32.


There’s a lot of stuff that falls into the miscellaneous category, that can add up quickly.

Wall anchor’s to hang the decor, spackling and paint for touch-ups, basic spices, paper straws, parchment paper, and hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, toilet paper, paper towels, q-tips, cotton swabs, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toilet bowl cleaner, air freshener spray, extra toothbrushes, razors and toothpaste for guests that forget theirs.

Much of these items will need to be re-stocked on a regular basis, so while I’ve included them here from a initial set-up cost perspective, many of them will be recurring expenses based on tenant usage.

To purchase all of these items, in sufficient quantity to get us through our first summer, rang in at $783.41.

Don’t Forget About the Vacuum Cleaner

Last but not least, we wanted to get a vacuum cleaner for the property. While the cleaners would bring their own, we also wanted to ensure there was one on site for longer term guests, and for ourselves.

I am a huge fan of the Dyson brand. I have owned one of their slim sticks for over 8 years, and it’s still going strong. Not to mention their hair dryer, and their newest addition to the line-up, the Coanda hair kit, are downright amazing.

Their warranties and customer service also happen to be fantastic. So I knew we’d have to go with a Dyson. But how to get one without paying $800+? Again, Christmas season was on our side. I searched the flyers and found a massive sale at our local Canadian Tire blowing out the Dyson Animal at a paltry $388.60. About half its usual price.

I had to wait for 20 minutes with my tantruming 2 year old while an employee searched the back for the last one they had in stock. But it was worth it. 30 minutes later I was driving away the proud owner of my new, half price, Dyson Animal. And with a slightly quieter toddler. Score.

So – How Much Did Equipping Our Vacation Rental Really Cost?

Well – I can’t give you a grand total without mentioning that I also did a HUGE clutter clear at our current house looking for anything we could repurpose for use at the cottage.

We sent up puzzles, games, books, a couple arm chairs, kids toys, extra life jackets, beach toys/umbrella, decor items, a Bose sound system and some kitchen gadgets. All of which probably saved us around $1000.00.

Those savings aside, the actual expended cost of equipping our vacation rental came to $11715.39.

Overall, we are pretty happy with our initial budget and what we spent. There’s no doubt, we probably could have cut the final number by about half if we had just bought everything from Ikea. But given the price point of the property, I think we would have felt that decision in our future tenant reviews, and return clientele.

I’m also certain I could have done better had we bought more on Craigslist, but after several searches I just wasn’t finding anything that matched the beach vibe we were going for. And with the time constraints we were facing, waiting for the perfect items to show up just wan’t going to work.

As it stands, we spent a bit more upfront, but hopefully we’ve selected items that will withstand the use. And make everyones stay very enjoyable.

Thanks For Reading

As always – thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check back next week when I delve into the intricacies of financing a vacation rental when you are retired in your thirties. It’s a barrel of monkeys.

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