Whether your Airbnb is a tiny studio or a sprawling vacation home, we’d bet that it’s the living room that ties your entire space together. It connects the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, and unlike these other rooms that have a more singular purpose, the living room serves as the multifunctional catch-all for the rest of your guests’ activities. It’s also likely to be the room in which your guests will spend the most time (at least while they’re awake!) and consequently, will often be the first room that pops into their mind when they think back to their stay at your Airbnb.
The key to creating a great Airbnb living room boils down to flexibility and beauty. You want to provide your guests all the building blocks to kick back and relax, whatever that might mean for them: reading a good book, binge watching their favorite show, enjoying a family game night, opening up a bottle of wine. It’s also the space guests will use during all those in between moments, a spot to answer a few emails while their partner finishes getting ready or where everyone sits down to figure out which restaurant to try for dinner.
Given all the time your guests will spend here, the living room should be a space that simply feels good to be in: beautiful, uplifting, warm. It should offer an invitation to linger, whether that means taking it slow in the morning or staying in for a movie night instead of going out. In this way, a well-designed Airbnb living room offers yet another advantage over a hotel room. Whereas hotel guests often feel like they’re missing out on something when they stay in their rooms, a carefully crafted Airbnb living room can feel like a destination in its own right. Here’s the comprehensive living room essentials checklist to help you create just that. As always, you can support bnbNomad by using our pink affiliate links below!
A Place to Flop
For us, this is the definition of living room: a place to flop that is not the bed. Usually this means a couch of some sort, but if you’re space is tiny and even a loveseat would be too big, a comfy chair and footrest will do the trick. We’ve seen hosts round out the sitting area with all sorts of fun pieces: papasan chairs, rocking chairs, L-shaped couches, stately leather uprights, and even a matching pair of swivel rockers upholstered in blue crushed velvet. Futons and sleeper sofas (this one was beautiful) are also a great option to extend the number of beds in your Airbnb. Just be sure to keep an eye on how any living room fabric fares overtime. You want guests to go Oh! That looks comfy!, not Hmm, when do you think that was last cleaned?
Coffee Table or End Tables
…Or both, if you’ve got the space. When a guest sits down with a cup of coffee or bottle of beer, there should be an easy spot to set it down. (If you want to avoid condensation rings, make sure you position out coasters in all the convenient places.) We adored a little stand shaped like this that easily pulled up to a chair or couch, creating a flexible surface we used constantly. Nesting coffee tables are also a great option to enable guests to expand or shrink the surface area they need. And if you’re super pressed for space, we’ve even seen hosts tuck a thin table along the backside of the couch, just big enough for a few coasters, a book or two, and tv remotes.
For many folks these days, the epitome of rainy day relaxation has become launching Netflix and binge watching the latest season of their favorite show. These guests will often have a laptop or mobile device with them. Just make sure your internet password is easy to find, and consider including instructions about how to reset your router in case there’s a glitch during a guest’s stay. We also always encourage hosts to post their internet speeds on their Airbnb so guests know what to expect. (If you’re not sure what your internet speeds are, this post will walk you through each step.) Investing in a strong signal can attract business travelers as well as Netflix enthusiasts.
Build flexibility into your lighting so your guests can adjust their surroundings to the activity at hand. In addition to a strong overhead light, position several lamps with softer light throughout your space: a floor lamp in the corner, smaller lamps on the end tables, and maybe a reading lamp near any standalone chairs. As movie nights start or evenings wind down, a little bit of lamp light can go along way. Shop lamps here.
Whether you’ve compiled your local recommendations in your house manual or have assembled a collection of pamphlets or guidebooks, set materials like these in arms reach of the couch. We also love beautiful coffee table books about the area we’re visiting. Your guests will plop down to relax and the next thing they know, they’ll have ten new ideas for what to do this afternoon.
One of the most versatile pieces of decor, throw pillows are where it’s at. They immediately brighten up the space, make any seating area feel finished, and are appreciated by every guest who sits down to find their lower back supported. You can even use throw pillows as an opportunity to bring your location into your space. The anchor throw pillow above was the first thing we noticed when we walked into a beautiful Airbnb in Rhode Island. Shop throw pillows here.
Tossed over the back of the couch or chair, the quick addition of a throw blanket immediately improves any movie night, late night reading, or early morning work, especially if you live somewhere cold or your place has spotty heating. Just remember to clean these blankets between guests, and if you have a blanket basket, take extra care to keep it looking fresh and appealing.
A small collection of books has been one of the most consistent living room additions we’ve seen throughout our Airbnb travels. We’ve seen short story collections, classic novels, how-to manuals, inspirational books, photography collections, history books, even a guide to London’s Best Pubs (which we then took it upon ourselves to find!) Take this opportunity to share your own favorites with your guests.
What are your favorite games? We’ve stayed at places with a deck of cards, a collection of board games, and even a decked out video game console in the basement. If you’ve got family-friendly amenities, add in some games for kids as well. If you want to go above and beyond, ask families booking with kids how old they are. Maybe there are a few items around your own home that are perfect for their age. This level of personalization won’t go unnoticed. Shop board games here.
Ok, a TV doesn’t always match a living room’s style, and we’ve loved our stays in plenty of spaces that don’t have one. But if you do, consider enabling guests to watch their own online shows with a smart TV or a Roku (which we’ve loved). Guests can login to their own Netflix or Hulu accounts and pick up where they’ve left off. We’ve even stayed in one Airbnb that set out a long HDMI cable, so we could connect our laptop to the big screen. Remember to set your remotes out in an obvious place, and include instructions in your house manual if their use isn’t obvious. Shop Smart TVs here.
Best Kept Secrets
We’d opt for hard floors over Airbnb carpet any day, but you want the living room to feel soft and welcoming. A large area rug will tie any living room together visually, providing a splash of texture and color. You can even place a super thick felt rug pad underneath to create a luxurious feel for barefoot guests. We discovered this multicolor rug in an incredible farmstay Airbnb in upstate New York. Odin spent almost our entire month long stay on it.
If you’re working with a smaller space, the easiest way to open it up is with mirrors. Position your mirror where it will catch the most natural light. In London, our host had seemingly doubled the size of her small living room/dining room area by covering an entire wall with full-length mirrors. Not only did it make the space feel huge, the mirrors were lined up with the room’s one narrow window, which quadrupled the natural light in the room. Shop wall mirrors here.
A little plant greenery will liven up any living room. Our very first Airbnb had several beautiful plants nestled in the corner. It was a small space, and during our ten days there, we noticed the plants constantly. If you often have guests for longer stays and are worried about watering, consider succulents. Same effect, less work.
We’ve seen this trick a several places now: speakers with either an audio jack cable laid out or bluetooth enabled. This is one of the quickest ways for a guest to personalize the space: they can connect to their own music and create the ambiance they’re after, whether that’s lively music during dinner or soft background music in the evening. We even had one host who set out a record player with selections from their collection. The living room offers all sorts of opportunities to infuse bits of your personality.
Airbnb fireplaces are more common than you might think! We’ve used wood and gas fireplaces, enjoyed big hearths and tiny stoves. If there’s an amenity to set your guests up to enjoy correctly, it’s the fireplace. Create a fireplace basket that has everything your guests could need: wood, kindling, matches, fire starters, excellent instructions, and a fire extinguisher, just in case. We used the fireplace nearly every day while visiting a rustic Airbnb in New Mexico, because our host went out of his way to make sure we had everything we could need to enjoy one of his home’s best features.
Last but not least, the living room is the perfect spot to set out your guest book. (We loved this nautical themed guest book.)This is the room where your guests will take the time to actually enjoy the stories previous guests have shared and reflect upon their own trip. Place it in arms reach of the main sitting area, and leave a pen nearby to encourage guests to add their own story.
Thanks so much for reading our living room checklist! Just click the graphic to download your own copy. If you’re looking for more checklist help, take a look at the ones we’ve created for the Airbnb bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. If you’re an Airbnb guest, what else do you like to find in the living room? And if you’re a host, what else have you added to your space? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and until next time, happy hosting!