How to style a coastal Airbnb property

Near the end of last year, I had the task of transforming an empty two storied property on the Surf Coast in to an Air B n B holiday rental. It had previously been tenanted for a few years and required urgent renovations, repairs and cleaning before any styling or fit out could even begin.

While it sounded daunting at first, I knew we had a talented building team and I had full faith in them to get the job done. The project ended up taking about 8 weeks, and included gutting and renovating 2 full bathrooms and sprucing up 2 others. A full interior paint, a new front of house façade and pergola built, then a full style and fit out from top to bottom.

The end result was a big success, and as soon as the Airbnb listing went live the bookings started flowing, with guests literally on the way as beds were being made up and tea towels hung in place. It was a HOT property.

Since then, I’ve had people ask me where I’ve bought certain items and can I help them with styling their own properties. So, I decided to write a blog and share my tips, and hopefully inspire someone else to take that leap and create their own fabulous holiday rental.

First things first. You need to sit down and make a plan, and a budget is probably where you should start. How much are you going to invest in getting the property ready for paying guests? How much can you afford to spend on furniture, homewares and styling? Whether you use a computer, iPad or a simple notebook like me, you will need to do a room by room budget breakdown to ensure you remain on track.

Start by taking photos of every room and space in the house. If a room already has furnishings, what do you need to remove? What do you need to replace? What do you need to purchase? If your property is completely empty you will need to try and visualize where furniture will go and what items are needed to fill each room. This should give you a rough budget breakdown that you can use a guide

Before you buy anything, you need to work out the answers to these questions:

  1. Who is your target guest market? For example, is it families, couples, golfers, or just anyone wanting a relaxing coastal getaway?
  2. What items are your guests going to expect the property to have?
  3. What would make their stay more comfortable, more homely, more fun, more convenient, more memorable? Because your aim is to have them love it so much that they want to re book and recommend to their friends and family.
  4. What will the overall STYLE of this property be? And how can you make it stand out from all other similar rental listings in this location?

Your Airbnb also needs to be as clean and tidy as a hotel but feel like a home away from home for your guests. So how can you achieve that? Check out the styling and shopping tips I’ve listed here, and use this as a guide to get you started. I hope you will find this helpful.


From the minute your guests walk in the front door you want them to have a great experience. So think about investing in a new welcome mat and a console or hall table for placing their keys, phone or handbag.

A large wall mirror is a nice touch, they can check their hair or makeup on the way out the door. It also adds style to any space while also making a smaller entrance seem larger. For a coastal look go for round or arched wooden framed mirrors, or mirrors in cane or rattan.


When thinking of colour, try and have a theme that will appeal to a wide range of people. Not too masculine, not too feminine and not bright or garish. Aim to keep pops of colour soft and neutral. I don’t recommend too much white or very light soft furnishings and fabrics as they are going to get soiled by dirty feet or food/drink spills. But if you do go in that direction make sure covers can be washed and use a furniture protection spray. Add soft easy to wash throws to your sofas for extra protection. I purchased some great sofa and bed throws online at Temple and Webster, Adairs and Target.

Keep the same colour way and styling theme right throughout the property, this will make it all cohesive and create more of an impressive WOW factor overall. For this particular property shown, I went for neutrals with pops of mainly soft gold, muted blues, dusky pinks and earthy browns. If you are using a professional linen supply company they will provide all white bed linen and towels. All these colours really stand out against that stark white base.


Everyone loves a throw pillow, I recommend having loads of them for extra cosy comfort and for kids to use as floor cushions to watch TV or play games. It’s worth paying extra for quality cushions that have removable covers for washing, otherwise a bad spill can spell the end of a cushion, and that’s a waste of money.

Freedom and Adairs usually have a big selection and often have sales. Try mixing up plain fabrics with textured and printed to create interest. I chose lux velvet cushions from Adairs, and a gorgeous Palm Tree print to compliment the artwork and beach side location. They really make a statement.

Whatever the maximum number of guests is for your property make sure your lounge seating arrangement has a spot for everyone. An L shaped sofa is ideal for 6-8 guests and large Ottomans are perfect for extra seating.


A current big trend in beach side homes, think Byron Bay, Noosa and Surf Coast, is cane, rattan and raffia furniture and homewares. Styling with pieces like coffee tables, side tables, ottomans, mirrors or shelving will add a lovely coastal vibe. There are many online stores that now sell it. Check out Black Salt, Black Mango and Adairs. Also visit your local Bunnings, I purchased a great cane coffee table that was about half the price of other brands.

TIP: look at Facebook marketplace in the same location as your coastal property, you might find people selling good quality secondhand coastal style furniture. Not everything you buy needs to be brand new.


People on holiday generally like to have quiet time and space to relax, so try to include a spot that can be a dedicated chill out zone. Or even create multiple zones if your property is big enough. Think day beds with large cushions and throws, soft chunky armchairs, rugs with large floor cushions, somewhere to take a nap, read a book or have a glass of wine.

Speaking of books, a nice touch is to have a few quality hard back coffee table books available for guests to read, and they look so stylish sitting on side tables or consoles.
A basket or rack of magazines is also much appreciated on those rainy days when beach days are out, and don’t forget a selection of games for kids and families to enjoy.

Kmart and Target have all the classic games kids love. And let me tell you, their parents will be thanking you and the reviews will be glowing.


When styling bedrooms you want to include a chest of drawers where possible, you may have guests that want to stay a week or longer and need to unpack a bit more. Make sure you have good quality clothes hangers in the wardrobes, not the cheap plastic ones or the metal ones from dry cleaners.

Make a great impression and purchase wood hangers and silver clip hangers from Coles or Woolworths, they cost about a dollar a hanger. As a stylist I know how much people appreciate good coat hangers, its’ these little touches that give that hotel experience and make a difference. A wooden shoe rack in each wardrobe also looks great and keeps guests shoes tidy. Try Temple and Webster, Target or Freedom for shoe racks.
Add rugs, bed throws, side table lamps, and large baskets to make it feel homely. Jute rugs make a room feel instantly beachy and coastal, and muti coloured patterned rugs tend to hide a bit of dirt. My go to for affordable rugs is Temple and Webster, and Target can also be great for smaller rugs in areas with less foot traffic.

When styling bedrooms you want to include a chest of drawers where possible, you may have guests that want to stay a week or longer and need to unpack a bit more. Make sure you have good quality clothes hangers in the wardrobes, not the cheap plastic ones or the metal ones from dry cleaners.


Guests will sometimes have accidents or illness and bedding will get soiled, so always keep spare blankets and a few spare duvets locked away in your cleaners cupboard. With guests checking out at 10am and new arrivals coming in at 3pm there may not be time for cleaners to wash and dry those larger bedding items.

I recommend investing in easy wash, snuggly polyester blankets from Adairs, they come in a nice range of colours and unlike wool blankets you won’t need to dryclean them. If you have laundry facilities for your guests they may even be able to wash and dry blankets themselves. Too easy.

If you choose to use the services of a linen supply company for all your towels, bath mats and hand towels, they will always be plain white like a hotel. You can add accessories like toothbrush holders, soap dishes and soap dispensers in matching sets. Plain white, marble or terrazzo style look really great. And don’t forget to supply small rubbish bins, tissues and hair dryers.

Those little mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner, or body moisturizer and mini wrapped soaps are considered a “no go” these days, they aren’t great for the environment as they create so much packaging waste. I suggest buying large full bottles of products for each bathroom in a popular brand such as Sukin. It’s easy to replace and top up with refills, and you can buy it at Coles and Woolworths.

Other things to consider when styling an Airbnb. Keep all knick knacks to a minimum as these smaller homewares can get broken or go walkabouts. Avoid clutter as it’s harder for cleaners to dust and things can get moved around all over the place. Have drink coasters for guests to use to protect wooden furniture from being marked, and adding a few lush plants in large white pots will complete your coastal styling.

Lastly, I believe that property styling and presentation is JUST as important as the cleaning, so it can be helpful to have photos of your rooms printed out for your cleaners to refer to. Sometimes guests will move the furniture around and you want your Airbnb to look exactly like it has been marketed online.

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Get in touch if I can assist with your coastal Airbnb styling project, you can email me at