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Furnishing a Short-Term Rental with Michael Carron

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

How do you design and furnish a short-term rental property while maintaining a budget and also trying to stand out against competitors? If you are struggling with where to shop, how to find the best deals, or even how to stand out in pictures for marketing, then be sure to listen to episode 6 of the Selling Derby City Podcast.

Jonathan and Justin kick off the episode by sharing a few of their low-maintenance tips for exterior design. The exterior design is just as important as the interior design. The curb appeal is the first impression of the short-term rental property so you want to make sure it is attractive to potential guests.

Then, Jonathan and Justin have Michael Carron join them to discuss his expertise on all things interior design and the importance of it. Michael discusses how to differentiate between designing short-term rentals and residential homes, along with his top three tips, and so much more.

About Michael Carron

Michael and his wife have two children, a six-year-old and an eight-year-old. He is an interior designer, local to Louisville out of Evansville, Indiana, and has been an interior designer for almost a year now. Before becoming a full-time interior designer, Michael has a radio-TV and broadcasting background, and did several other things before this but has always really been fascinated by design. Through his values-based approach, Michael helps his clients design beautiful and comfortable homes with their aesthetics in mind. Learn more about Michael on his website.

Before We Begin

If you watch Selling Derby City on YouTube, then you will notice that Jonathan and Justin have a (temporary) new recording set up. Jonathan explains that they are having remodeling done on their house. Their friend, Dana McMahan, let them use the 3rd floor of a Victorian Airbnb located in Old Louisville in the meantime.

Dana McMahan is a food and travel writer and an Airbnb Super Host. You can follow Dana on Instagram and check out her website to see her rentals.


Exterior Design

Justin and Jonathan dive into the episode to talk about exterior home design. They share how curb appeal is just as important as interior design. It’s all about first impressions!

"You want to wow your guests from the very beginning. When they show up, you want them to say, “oh yes, this looks exactly like the pictures that I saw" and not "what the hell happened?"" -Jonathan Klunk

Low Maintenance Tips for Exterior Design

  • Plants & Trees: Hostas, Ornamental Grasses, Boxwoods, Japanese Maple, Evergreens

  • Mulch or pea gravel in beds

  • Hardscape or astroturf, if no grass is wanted

  • Fall & Spring Clean Ups

  • Refresh Mulch in Fall & Spring

  • Hire someone for lawncare i.e. mowing and weed eating


Interior Design

Jonathan and Justin conclude their exterior design tips and next introduce their guest, Michael Carron, and begin the interview process. Michael shares expert tips and strategies that you can use for interior design for a home or property.

Jonathan's first question for Michael: How do you separate designing a short-term rental from someone’s personal home?

" They are very similar, but they're not so dissimilar. Because I have an overall approach to design that's much more values-based, both of them always start with values questions. I think where we thrive our best is when we are surrounded by our values. I have a values assessment that I will send most of my clients, and they're questions that I've come up with based on my experience in life." -Michael Carron

Justin agrees and says, “I think that hotels feel very sanitized and very white and clean. But people who are staying in short-term rentals, they are wanting a more warmer, comforting, homey environment.”


Next, Justin asks Michael: What’re your thoughts on local interest in decorating? Do you decorate to represent your city?

"I think that you can reflect the culture, reflect the personality, and the unique identity of a community without being super kitschy." -Michael Carron

Jonathan agrees and gives the example of how Louisville and Kentucky are known for bourbon and the Kentucky Derby. Your guests are already immersed in the culture from the moment they step off of the plane. You can represent bourbon and horses throughout your property without being too over the top.

Justin's next question for Michael is: How do you stand out in pictures?

Michael says, "A lot of people are familiar with Instagram and follow designers on Instagram. It's all about vignettes. It's all about someone being able to see themselves sitting there, visualizing. It's about the vicarious experience."

Jonathan agrees with Michael and explains the importance of setting your property apart from the others.

“One picture of each room that kind of shows you the flow and then those vignettes. So you can say, "look at the care we've taken to put this together and how visually interesting it is." You're going to be able to immerse yourself in this.” -Jonathan Klunk

Michael's Top 3 Design Tips for Designing a Short-Term Rental Property:

  1. Prioritize for the things that are going to be used the most i.e. good quality beds, mattresses, dining room tables and chairs, etc and you don't want to have to replace them down the road.

  2. Things do not have to match- don’t buy a matching bedroom or dining room set. Shop vintage.

  3. Think about your ideal guest

"Just think about your ideal guest. Who would be staying there? And build all of your amenities, all of the little special things that you don't have to do, but just that go the extra mile and to say, "oh yeah, there's character, there's personality. That's where I want to stay."" -Michael Carron


These interior design tips flow right into the next topic. Justin asks Michael- For someone who is just starting out, where are the best places to shop online for furnishing? Local sourcing?

Michael suggests:

  • Ikea for chairs and decor.

  • Target, Lowes, Home Depot for decor- they all have online shopping to make it easier.

  • Wayfair and Overstock- shop by the reviews.

  • Amazon for other amenities- buy in bulk and ship quickly

"You want to be able to get that same linen. If it's bed sheets or if it's duvet or duvet cover. You want to be able to know that you can find that again. I like using, Quince and they are great for linens.” -Michael Carron


Going along with where the best places to shop, Jonathan asks Michael to share a budget range for furnishing a standard 4 BR/2 BA house.

"For a four-bedroom, two-bath would be probably 50 to 60, would be about normal. And now that is everything. That is bedrooms, bathrooms, from the toilet paper to the linens, and all of that stuff. And those are some really good quality pieces like we were talking about earlier. A good sofa, good chairs, good dining room table, really nice quality mattresses, and linens." -Michael Carron


Justin asks Michael: How do you maximize on bed count (sleeper sofas, bunk beds, "Heads in Beds")?

Michael discusses how you may be able to optimize with sofa sleepers and bunk beds, but if there is only one bathroom then all of those people will be uncomfortable and may leave a bad review. So keep in mind the actual functionality of the house.

Michael shares a tip of using a trundle bed that slides out from under the bed. Not only does this hide the bed underneath for visual purposes but it also keeps the area under the bed clean.

Jonathan adds, “you also need to have a seat at the table for everybody. If you sleep eight, you need a dining table for eight or to have a combination dining table and kitchen island. Everyone needs to be able to sit down if they cook a meal. Also upholstered seats. If everybody wants to sit down and have a conversation around the fireplace, watch a movie together, you should have enough sofas, chairs, and just different things for everyone to sit.”

Thank you so much for reading our blog post. We were so honored to have Michael Carron join us and share all things Exterior and Interior Design with you.


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