Airbnb Furnishing

How to Create an Airbnb Guidebook (and why it matters)

This is your start-to-finish guide for creating a killer Airbnb guidebook. Don’t forget to check out our printable templates.

Why are Airbnb guidebooks so important for vacation rentals?

Firstly, Airbnb guidebooks represent one of the easiest ways to impress your guests and provide them with a great experience. The reason a guest chooses an Airbnb is not only for the physical living space but rather the host’s ability to provide insider tips. Chances are many guests aren’t from your city, and almost none will be from your local neighborhood. That means that they don’t know the local “go-to” spots that you probably know like the back of your hand! As a result, an Airbnb guidebook can offer that ‘local guide’ expertise giving yourself a competitive edge in quality service. 

(Need help setting up your Airbnb vacation rental? Complete a design request and you’ll get a design proposal within a day. All setup will be done for you in a day too.)

A good Airbnb host is like the concierge at a hotel.

They assist guests by providing answers to frequently asked questions. Additionally, it’s fortunate that one guest’s questions are likely shared by others.

  • I’m looking for a good bite to eat. Where should I go? Any standout dishes on the menu?
  • This is such a big city! What sightseeing attractions should I check out?
  • I’m sick and need cold and flu medicine. Is there a 24-hour pharmacy?
  • I am craving a good cappuccino. Does that exist around here?
  • I need to keep the kids happy. Any ideas?

The key to a virtuous circle of bookings is positive reviews. There’s no faster shortcut to a good review than providing a stunningly useful Airbnb guidebook. After all, communication, location, and value represent half of the review criteria that a host is assessed against. Thus, a guidebook demonstrates a communicative host with a great living space, who provides valuable guest experiences.

Meanwhile, you can proactively answer guests’ questions by creating a welcome guide that showcases the best your neighborhood has to offer. This kind of guidebook helps your listing stand out from the competition, too. Not only that, but it will also be publicly displayed on your Airbnb listing page (even before guests book your place). Additionally, you can print your guide and make it available in hard-copy format, once they arrive.

An Airbnb guidebook shows off your knowledge of the local area, reinforce your credibility as a host, increase bookings and maximize your nightly rate from guests looking to stay in great spots with reliable hosts.

But the best part? The beauty of a Airbnb guidebook is the value you provide your guests from a single small investment. You can reuse the guidebook with all future guests, and it shouldn’t need updating very frequently.

Therefore, as a low-cost, time-minimal investment, building an Airbnb Guidebook truly represents the low hanging fruit of your Airbnb success. So carve out some time to sit down with this post, and you’ll soon see a big difference the attractiveness of your property.

Let’s get started! Or scroll to the bottom to download the free template.


Step 1. Identify your target guests.


For example, are they primarily elderly vacationers? Families with young children? A couple on romantic getaway? Go back through your listings if you need a memory jog. In addition, think about age, gender, number of guests, budget, and their interests.

Step 2. Brainstorm relevant activities for them.


Find activities that fit the interests and budgets of the guests you identified. For multiple segments of guests, consider making two sections within your guide! Tip: You can find comprehensive community event listings on the Internet, like a town hall website, or on local bulletin boards. Think about the questions your guests have asked you about the neighborhood.


Food Scene (fast food, your local fave restaurant, iconic restaurants, local fave coffee shop, coffee shop near transit)
Sightseeing (historical places, novel attractions (World’s Smallest Toothbrush!)
Drinks & Nightlife (bar with a view of the area, the local bar, the swanky “it” bar)
Arts & Culture (art galleries and museums, famous schools and libraries (did a celebrity grow up in the area?)
Parks & Nature (parks, playgrounds, natural beauty spots like beaches, trails, or national parks)
Shopping (malls, notable stores (brands, locally made goods, or popularized spots)
Entertainment & Activities (movie theaters, comedy clubs, rainy day activities like bowling alleys)
Basic Essentials (in other words, convenience stores, grocery stores, delicatessens, pharmacies, phone and electronics repair shops)
Getting Around (nearest transit stops, best routes and running times to popular spots)
Bonus Tip: Consistently directing guests to specific restaurants or shops may also let you ask those shop owners for discounts that your guests can use! Keep in mind that not all owners will be interested, and your pitch will work best if you are bringing them significant traffic.

Step 3. Make sure your activities cover a dispersed regional area.


In other words, some of your guests will only want walking-distance attractions, whereas others want to explore the wider region. For instance, try to cover the best spots in your own neighborhood, but also include some unique places that aren’t. From art galleries to coffee shops, your knowledge can be a huge gift to your guests!

Step 4. Make sure you’ve catered for seasonal variance!


If your area is susceptible to seasonal tourism, definitely include popular seasonal points of interest like apple picking. However, look for ways to showcase the best of your location at all times of the year, whether it’s snowshoeing in the wilderness or free summer concerts at the park.


When you’re ready to add your complete guidebook to the online listing, here’s what you need to do.

1. Login to Airbnb.
2 In Hosting mode, select Listings from the top menu.
3. Click on your listing.
4. Click on Listing details from your listing’s menu.
5. Click the Edit button for the Guidebook section.

Now, you can add your guidebook in Airbnb.

Type the name of the particular place you wish to include within the relevant guidebook category. After that, Airbnb will automatically retrieve the official name of the place you wish to add, which you then select. Airbnb will also use Google Maps to pull the address and a map of the spot you want to list.

This is done on an itemized basis, so it can be a bit time-consuming. Subsequently, you can select a sub-category for the place. You can provide a short description up to 700 characters for each place you want to list. Use this space to let guests know why you recommend it, or an ‘insider tip’ they can use when they go. You also have the option to specify what the place is good for, for instance Families, Late Nights, Budget-Friendly, Peace & Quiet.

If you’d rather, just add a note to your listing that you provide a current, customized guidebook for your guests. Then print your guide and provide it as a hard copy. Above all, remember that if your guide doesn’t appear in the online listing, it can’t attract guests!


You can download this post in worksheet form to do offline! In fact, we recommend it — sit down with a cuppa and imagine a perfect experience for your guests.

Additionally, many hosts use blank printables to communicate essential info to their guests, like the wifi password. Some are great framed behind glass so your guest can use a whiteboard marker on it, like a checkout to do list.

Welcome Page Printable

Guest Planner Schedule Printable

Host Contact Info Printable

Wifi Printable

Recommendations Printable

Airbnb Checkout Instructions Printable

Do Not Disturb Printable

Remove Shoes Printable

Airbnb Feedback Printable

–> Complete Airbnb Printables

Either way, congrats! By creating an Airbnb guidebook, you’ve just taken an important step towards happier guests, better reviews, and increased bookings for your vacation rental or Airbnb.

Finally, do you need help setting up the Airbnb with the right furniture? 

Setting up an AirBnb is no easy task, Furnishr can design and set up the entire home for you in a day. Simply complete a design request, and you’ll receive a proposal with 2-3 designs for all the rooms in your unit. 

Furnish Your Airbnb

Related Posts:

This has been an (edited) guest post from our friends over at Padlifter.

Advice & Ideas Design Tips

Looking to rent furniture in NYC? Think again.

Ahoy! Is your apartment empty? Are you looking to rent furniture in NYC? Then welcome, you’re in just the right place.

At first glance, choosing to rent your furniture may seem like a perfect solution! After all, most digital nomads and millennial workers prefer to own less and experience more. Lots of people imagine that renting furniture is obviously better because it costs you less money up front, and ultimately someone else is responsible for it. Sounds good, right?

However, before you rent furniture in NYC, there are a few things you should know first. Renting is not always the best way to save money or build the lifestyle you really want! It may solve some of your problems at first, but in the long run it may not be the ideal solution it, either for your apartment or your bank account.

a big room with brick wall and art, a light gray couch, a carpet and big windows with a view of the city

Our Evaluation Process

So, here is an overview of all the pros and cons of different furnishing companies. Four are rental companies and one is not.

We review offerings from Feather, Cort, Furnishr, Mobley, and Fernish. Unfortunately, Fernish does not cover NYC, but all the other companies do. Each company offers a unique blend of three factors: price, quality, and efficiency. Ultimately, the choice to rent or buy will depend on your budget, how relatively stable your housing is, and how much time you have to oversee the furnishing process. Take into account how long you can commit to renting the furniture for, as shorter leases are costlier. And be sure to take into account your personal squick factor, and read each company’s sanitization guideline thoroughly.

We hope this guide helps you make an informed decision! Whether you buy or rent your furniture in NYC, we’re excited for you to find some awesome furniture for your new place.

How long are you thinking of staying in the city?

Cort offers the most flexible furnishing packages, whereas Furnishr makes the most sense if you plan to stay put for more than a year.

How much money are you prepared to pay out?

Our cost index is an overall calculation of how much you end up paying for your furniture. Cort is the costliest, because of added fees and higher rent-to-own retail price. Feather and Furnishr are the most cost-effective choices for renting and buying your furniture.

What kind of quality do you want in your furniture?

Mobley’s selection of furniture lots of veneered MDF and polyester upholstery, which do not hold up well under daily use. Furnishr gets you the highest quality furniture for two reasons: they purchase directly from trusted manufacturers, and your furniture is 100% new and not used like rental furniture.

How easy do you want the furnishing process to be?

chart of ease or difficulty to rent furniture in NYC
Mobley’s website was the most difficult to use of the companies we tested. They also offer less value for customers when it comes delivery and set up. Fernish, Feather, and Cort offer similar processes where the customer selects individual pieces of furniture to create a room. Furnishr’s consultation process is a bit sleeker, and their white-glove delivery and 24 hour installation is hard to beat.

Finally, what are your sustainability values?

Mobley and Cort are the least environmentally friendly companies on our list, due to the materials used as well as sanitization and shipping practices. Furnishr only requires a single delivery, since you’re purchasing the items outright, which reduces packaging and shipping impacts. Feather and Fernish are committed to reducing plastic packaging and reusing furniture at the end of its lifecycle.

Okay, so let’s break this down even further.

Four of these companies offer furniture for rent, with the option to rent-to-own. If you want to rent furniture in NYC, then only three of those companies will cover you (Feather, Cort, and Mobley). The final company, Furnishr, covers most of North America and offers outright purchase of furniture. Most of the rental companies have fair policies around damage. Most will be happy to fix up small scratches and get out stains, and all rental furniture has to undergo a robust sanitization process between rentals.

So now that you know the basics, let’s see if any of the scenarios below apply to you.

If you just moved to the city and started a new job, you might be a Type One: You are fairly location-insecure, and you don’t mind medium quality furniture with a fairly low monthly cost. If that’s you, then you might like Mobley or Feather. The major con is that you’re putting money into someone else’s pocket. Another drawback is that the lower quality furniture might make you feel like you’re living in an IKEA house, except the furniture doesn’t even belong to you. Pros? By renting furniture in NYC, you spend less money up front. Plus, someone else will take away your furniture whenever you decide to move.

Here’s another type of customer. Type Two: You like to keep a low environmental impact, but you’re working with a moderate budget. In this case, you should check out Feather or Furnishr. Feather is a rental company, but they’re committed to reducing plastic packaging and keeping furniture out of landfills. Furnishr is a comprehensive furnishing company, so you work with a designer and then purchase your items upfront. If you’re not sure about living in NYC in the future, then look at Feather. But if you aim to stay in the city, then choose Furnishr. Buying furniture can actually have a lower net environmental impact than renting. That’s due to the repetitive shipping, packaging, and sanitization processes required by rental companies. If you wanted to rent furniture in NYC to reduce your environmental impact, you may want to see how Furnishr compares.

Type Three: You’re busy, you’re ready to invest in quality pieces, and you’d rather spend a little more money upfront than deal with returning your furniture in the future. If this is you, Furnishr is the company for you. Whereas all companies on our list offer some kind of style consultation and set-up, Furnishr is the only one that works off your actual floor plan. They also coordinate a white glove delivery and clean up. Another perk? Furnishr works directly with manufacturers, so you get the absolute lowest price on the items you choose. Companies like Mobley and Feather base their rent-to-own prices on retail price, rather than manufacturer price. So, you’ll probably end up paying more for your items with rent-to-own than if you buy outright with Furnishr.

If you’re still feeling unsure, just think about what your future self wants. Big lights, big city….

Will your future self want to move cities every six months, leaving everything behind? Rent furniture in NYC.
Will your future self want to own high quality furniture, with the option to resell it if you move? Buy furniture in NYC.

big windows, yellow couch, assorted seating

Overall, rental companies can be a great stop-gap option for furnishing a place on quick notice. But “furniture flexibility” can also be overrated, especially if you don’t feel like putting money into someone else’s pocket just to have nice things. It can definitely start to feel a bit soulless to be surrounded by what is technically someone else’s furniture.

If you’re feeling the financial stress, we get it! You want to invest your hard earned cash in stuff you can actually afford, which will actually serve you in the long-term. So if you can’t afford all new furniture and you have the time to look around, then there’s no shame in thrifting. But if you don’t mind spending several hundred dollars a month to temporarily own nice-looking furniture, then have at it and don’t look back.

Either way, best of luck with your move!

Advice & Ideas

Moving in Winter: 4 Tips to Save You Stress and Ensure Success

Moving in the winter doesn’t have to be scary! With good planning, you may actually discover that winter is the best time of year to move. So whether you’re happily relocating for a job or unhappily house-hunting, don’t let the cold weather get you down! Follow our top four tips for moving in winter, and save yourself the unnecessary stress. You’ve got this.

1. Plan Ahead Like a Boss

If you’re moving in the winter, there are two major things you should consider planning around: the weather will be unpredictable, and you’ll have fewer hours of daylight. So, check the weather reports religiously, but make a moving plan that is flexible! Find a sitter for your kids and board your pets. Schedule your move for a few days before you actually need to be out. And schedule it early, so you make the best use of daylight hours. Make sure the utilities will be turned on in your new place, so you don’t arrive in the cold and dark. Have a strong flashlight or headlamp if you know you’ll need to move into the night.

If your area gets snow in the winter, check the plowing schedule for your neighborhood to ensure your movers have access. Finally, make sure you stock up on all the supplies you’ll need to conquer a frigid moving day: warm clothing and anti-slip winter boots, extra bubble wrap for your fragile objects, plastic tarps to protect your floors, salt for sidewalks, hand warmers, old towels, and a good stock of hot drinks.

2. Bundle Up Your Stuff

In cold weather, certain materials become more brittle and vulnerable to breaking. So if you’re moving quite a long distance, you should pay extra attention to these objects because they’ll likely be exposed to the cold for hours at a time. What kind of objects? Dishes and glassware are especially vulnerable in the cold. You can double wrap these items in bubble wrap or blankets for extra protection. Musical instruments, especially string instruments and wooden instruments, are also vulnerable to warping in rapid temperature changes. Wrap these carefully with insulated blankets.

Electronics are also quite vulnerable to the cold. If possible, try to make room in your car for an electronics tub. Your laptop, cameras, and other electronic items will fare much better in a temperature-controlled environment. Make sure to leave out your gloves and winter boots while packing! And remember to set aside your phone charger or power bank, since cold weather drains your smartphone battery much quicker, and you’ll need your phone on moving day.

If you have a house and are moving quite a long distance, you may wish to consider a container packing solution like Big Steel Box. They drop off a large shipping container curbside or in your driveway, and you simply pack it at your leisure. The company then picks up the crate and moves it for you. If you’re moving in the winter, make sure you look for a container company that has strong, durable containers. Aluminum can buckle under heavy snow, and lesser quality metals can rust or leak. Depending on where you’re moving, you may wish to leave behind your large pieces of furniture and start fresh in your new city with new furniture. Believe it or not, this can actually be cheaper than moving all your furniture. If you need help deciding which items to bring or leave behind, start with this article. Another option if you’re moving a long distance is to use Amtrak trains to ship boxes. This can actually cost you a lot less than using the postal service or hiring a moving van.

3. Prepare Your House for Slush

Moving in winter? Protect your floors from last-minute water damage by grabbing some tarps to contain the puddles.

Before moving day, spend a few hours preparing the inside and outside of your house for a wet move-out process. Start with the inside. You can buy plastic tarps from the hardware store, or you can buy some shower curtains from the dollar store. While you’re out, grab some coffee or apple cider to keep you warm on moving day. At home, lay down your plastic sheeting and secure it with tape. Make sure there’s a protected path all the way from your front door to the kitchen and the bathroom. If you’re keeping hydrated on your winter moving day (which you should be!), you don’t want to find yourself negotiating a sudden urge to pee with the need to protect your security deposit. Make it easy to leave messy shoes on and still use the necessary. Keep a stack of old towels by the front door, to sop up puddles and to protect items from damp weather on their trip from your home to the van.

You’ll also want to turn the heat off in both your old and new houses. Rather than wasting money on heat that will escape through open doors, we recommend putting a space heater in the bathroom. When you wake up on moving day, use a crockpot to keep a hot beverage available. A mug of hot cider can help keep you, your friends, and your movers in good spirits even in the worst of weather. Finally, make sure the outside of your home is ready for moving day! Whether you’re hiring movers or not, a safe walkway is absolutely essential to a successful moving day in winter. So shovel your sidewalk and driveway, and sprinkle salt to prevent slippery surfaces. Set out some snacks, a flashlight, and your power bank, and you’re all ready for moving in winter.

4. Work with Movers

We definitely recommend hiring a professional moving company if you’re moving in the winter. Good companies will have trained their employees in safe moving procedures for slippery conditions. Plus, many companies have different rates for winter and summer. Moving in the winter means that you’re more likely to get a lower rate as well as your preferred date, since demand is lower in the winter. However, keep in mind that tipping is especially appreciated in wintertime. Why? Companies don’t always pass their rates down to employees. Winter can be a miserable and even dangerous time to lift heavy boxes and drive a big moving van. Numb fingers, biting wind, and icy roads are all hazards of the job that deserve extra compensation!

That being said, make sure to listen to your movers if they express discomfort with moving in bad weather. They likely know more than you do about the equipment and their ability to complete the job safely. This is another reason to plan your move for a few days ahead of time. If bad weather forces you to reschedule, it won’t be the end of the world. Keep an eye on the weather and call your movers a week ahead of time to make a contingency plan.

That’s all!

Looking for more resources about moving?

Moving to a new city? Check out these tips for making your new city feel like home.
Furnishing a new place? Look at this post on furnishing in order.
Do you have cats? Make sure you read our tips for moving with cats.
Planning a move across the country? Start with our comprehensive moving checklist.

If you want a comprehensive cost breakdown of furnishing an apartment from scratch, this article’s got you covered.

Advice & Ideas Design Tips

Small Living Room Layouts: 7 Interior Design Tips to Maximize Small Spaces

Small-space living is pretty much the new norm for most people in 2020. It seems like units keep getting smaller in order to accommodate more people moving to urban areas. But how do you design a small space or decorate a tiny house? Good news! Living in a small space doesn’t mean you need to feel cramped or cluttered. By applying interior design principles and choosing the right furniture, we can help your small space feel big. Furniture should spark joy, right? This article focuses primarily on a small living room layout, since that’s where people spend most of their time at home. But these layouts and space-saving tricks can be applied to small studio apartments, or even small master bedrooms.

From storage units to coffee tables, from task-based lighting to clever furniture arrangements, take heart! We’ve got interior design tips that can help you make any small space feel bigger. Use this list to help you make the most of what you’ve got. How do you make the most of a small master bedroom? What furniture should you get for your studio apartment?

We’ve got you covered, whether you’re moving into a new place or just feeling smothered by your current layout. Scroll to the bottom for specific layout ideas, or read on for general tips on maximizing any small space.

If you’re furnishing a space completely from scratch, then give us a call for your complimentary consultation. Our team of designers can combine your floor plan with your style preferences. We order, ship, and set it all up for you, all in a single day. Seriously, it’s as amazing and easy as it sounds.

1. Work vertically

A small living room layout featuring two small plants and an open black bookshelf with assorted bags, books, and trinkets.

Less is more! Please don’t cram a bunch of wide, bulky furniture inside your small space. You can use one or two larger pieces to anchor your space, like a low comfy sofa or your bed. But too many chunky pieces and you’ll start to feel like the floor is disappearing. So keeping that idea in mind, look around your space. What pieces of furniture could you replace with a more lightweight version? Is there anything taking up horizontal space that could be reconfigured or replaced with a vertical version? Consider downsizes your bookshelves, choosing drop-leaf tables, selecting smaller coffee tables, or swapping out for smaller lamps.

Many small-space dwellers have folding or stacking chairs on hand, which can come out when needed but stow away minimally otherwise. Nesting tables achieve the same effect; they appear when you need them, but hide when you don’t. Another good trick is to hang your curtains from the ceiling, and not from the window frame top. This helps the room feel larger. To maximize space, make sure your small space layout includes furniture with storage. More on that later.

2. Use light materials for a small living room layout

an open concept small living room layout with kitchen with marigold colored curtains, a small glass topped dining table, and a low gray sofa
A glass-topped coffee table, white walls, and light fabric on the couch and curtains help the small space to feel larger.

Glass or open shelving are classic interior design tips which can make small spaces feel bigger! If all your furniture is made of dark wood or black metal, you may start to feel closed in. In a small living room layout, consider using lighter materials to lighten the sensation of furniture on your eye. Glass, light colored wood, open shelving, and light colored metal like copper or silver are all great ways to keep the air flow moving.

Reflective surfaces help bring more light into the room, too. They can also help with clutter because all your stuff will be more visible! If you’re a messy person (no shame!), consider using some stylish banker boxes to categorize and contain your items. Additionally, look for furniture with exposed legs rather than pieces that are flush to the ground. Floating shelves have the same effect. This can help your room feel more spacious and balanced.

3. Use appropriate patterns and textures

a small living room layout features a couch, lightly patterned rug, and open shelving with books and photos
Check out the neutral pattern on that rug! The lines create a sense of order and roundedness, but the slightly organic wobble and the color palette keep the room feeling warm and welcoming. It’s important to use pattern sparsely in small living room layouts.

Vertical stripes can be a good choice in small spaces because they create an illusion of height. Dark colors can make spaces feel smaller, because they swallow light. Wanna hear a clever interior design tip? Paint your ceiling a slightly lighter color than your walls. This creates a feeling of lightness overhead. Keep darker colors closer to the ground, or at least below eye level. An oversized, bold print can do wonders for a small space. Something like a large poster, magnified typography, or even a big cut of fabric or wallpaper framed. Remember that when you work too small, and bring in too many small knickknacks, it just creates clutter. Try to balance big with little in your small living room layout.

4. Storage units, or furniture with compartments

Furniture with built-in storage is an efficient and stylish help for small living rooms, especially if they provide additional seating.

Look for ottomans with storage, and you can easily sock away blankets, books, and living room clutter. We love shelving units that have open shelving on top but enclosed storage on the bottom. There are even some couches that have storage beneath the seat! End tables are a great way to create more storage. For example, rather than choosing a table with a heavy top and a drawer, choose a side table with a slim top and a second low rack underneath. This open structure allows you enough room for a lamp and a cup of coffee on top, and plenty of room below to keep your reading materials or even your laptop.

Coffee tables are a really challenging (but exciting) opportunity to nail your small space living room layout. Look for a tiered coffee table (one that has a second level of storage), preferably open and not closed. The exception to this is if your side table is against a wall. Otherwise, a glass top or light colored wood can help expand the feeling of space, while still offering more spots to keep things. As a last result, you can just stack things underneath your existing side table or coffee table, whether you have a second shelf or not. Store books, a basket for electronics or blankets — corner shelves are also a great way to utilize otherwise empty space. Say it with us: no more wasted space!

5. Task-based lighting can make a small living room feel large

How many light sources can you spot? There is a lamp for task lighting by the two arm chairs and another by the keyboard. Plus, see the two mood lights by the sofa and the general light source in the chandelier.

Interior designs are really good at layering lighting. But you can learn how to do it, too! There are several categories of lighting: general, ambient, task, mood, and accent lighting. And don’t forget to incorporate natural light! Think about how you currently use your small space, and let your own living habits to guide your lighting design. Are there areas where you need focused light, perhaps for reading? Are there any special architectural features in your space that could be highlighted with some accent lighting?

Using wall sconces is a great way to free up floor space, but check with the building first about drilling. There are plenty of good temporary options for mounting light fixtures, like stick-on hooks or command strips that could easily hold a minimal light and cord. For general and ambient lighting, look for lamps that direct light upwards and spread the light around the room. But to make the most of small spaces, look for ways to layer your lighting. Layered lighting offers a complexity of texture while also creating specific, private-feeling areas in which to do your tasks.

6. A small living room layout is better with zones

This small living room layout features a built in counter, but in a studio space it would be easy to use a low cabinet to create a separate kitchen and living room. By orienting the sofa away from the kitchen, you create a different zone for lounging.

You really can create smaller nooks within a even a small space. Clever furniture arrangements and rug placements help designate specific, separate areas for activities. You could even utilize furniture on wheels if you’re the sort of person who will happily do a bit of rearranging before a party. For example, a bar cart on wheels could move from the living room to the kitchen to make room for guests. A side table with wheels could be moved from beside the couch to in front of it, providing you with a mobile desk when you work from home.

What furniture should you get if you’re in a studio apartment? Look for tall open bookcases like IKEA’s KALLAX line. You can use these to create a separate bedroom zone! The main benefit of open bookcases is that they still let in natural light. They also offer storage from both sides, so you could designate some shelves for living room displays and others for your personal items. Lighting can help you create specific task zones, too (see above). If you’re in a studio apartment or bachelor, use a couch or open shelving to separate the kitchen area from the sleep zone. Low cabinets around the outside of your sofa could even double as a dining table or desk.

7. Invest wisely in essential furniture

By investing a high quality sofa in a neutral material, your furniture can last you for years and endure the fads.

Our main tip for furnishing any space is to invest in the essential furniture. What do we mean? It’s a good idea to spend more money on pieces you will have for 10+ years, like your sofa and a bed frame. Spend a bit more for higher quality materials and a timeless style.

That means you can afford to spend a bit less on accent pieces, like side tables and lamps. These don’t need to be as durable, and you can feel free to swap them out every few years as your taste changes. If you have kids or pets, you’ll definitely want to invest in durable pieces with storage since smaller pieces may get knocked over or knicked. If you want to know cost specifics, check out our comprehensive post about how to furnish an apartment with price breakdowns.

Specific ideas for your small living room layout

If you want floor plans, check out The Spruce for some cute illustrations of different ways to layout a small living room. Forbes also has some ideas about how to layout furniture in a small living room.

Otherwise, peek through the gallery of ideas for small living room layouts for inspiration!

And if you are relocating and need some help, our company can create a layout for any size space. Our interior designers get you the best deals on high-quality furniture, and they know how to maximize small spaces.

Drop us a line at Furnishr, and we promise to make it worth it!

If you are preparing for a move, you may also like these posts:

How to Move to the United States from Overseas
A Moving Out Checklist: The Painful Furniture Decision

Advice & Ideas

How to Move to the United States from Overseas

America home to more than 350,000,000 million people, and more than a million people immigrate into the country every year. While the U.S. may not be perfect, it’s easy to see why people want to move here for both professional and personal reasons. Of course, working toward the American Dream will be a struggle, but before that even happens you’ll have to get here! If you are considering a move to the United States from overseas, here are some tips to make the transition as easy as possible.

Get to Know Your New Home

America is a large country with a wide variety of climates and cultures. New York has harsh winters, intense people, and a lot of business opportunities. It is also exceptionally welcoming. There is a lot of culture, but it is also rather expensive. On the other hand, consider a small town in Alabama, which might be much more cost effective while offering less professional opportunities. Generally speaking, people in the South are quite hospitable but do tend to be more conservative. So, if you come from a vastly different culture, you may not find a quick embrace by the community. It’s a good idea to learn about the cultural climate of where you plan to move, as well as the weather patterns. This will help you figure out what best suits your family, and help you know what to expect when you arrive. And when you finally get here, try to walk around and explore your new city in person!

Learn English

Here’s something that most people in America don’t even know: English is not the official language of the United States! There is no officially recognized language. However, learning the predominant language will definitely ease the transition for your family. Before you arrive, it’s a very good idea to learn as much English as you can. Since this article is written in English, you’re probably off to a pretty good start. Many people in the United States speak informally, so you’ll want to learn the common slang of the area you move to. This changes rapidly, so try to keep up. A great place to start is YouTube channels or another online language learning tool like italki or Duolingo. Many cities have free English conversation classes for newcomers, so don’t let your level of English deter you!

Get Your Stuff Here

When making such a big move, it’s crucial to think ahead about the practical things. One of the most important things to plan is how to get all your stuff from one country to another. Luckily, there are companies that can help you store and transport all of your items. For example, portable shipping containers offer you a chance to pack all of your things in a single storage apparatus. Not only is it cost effective, but you get a large amount of control over the packing and unpacking of your items. 

Alternately, you could leave most of your large items behind and hire a local company to furnish your new space. Furnishr is a company that covers almost all of the U.S. and Canada. Furnishr offers a comprehensive furnishing solution. All you need to do is provide the measurements of your space and choose your style preference by taking a quiz. Their team of designers and network of shipping partners will deliver and set up all your furniture in a single day. You can check out their look book to see other rooms they have furnished, and see if Furnishr could be right for you. Will you need a home office? Here’s how to plan for that. Curious how much it might cost you to furnish your new apartment? Here is a step-by-step guide with a cost breakdown of furniture.

Before packing up, try to sell everything you don’t need. One of the biggest items you may want to think twice about is your car. You can’t drive it across the ocean, so what are your options? If you need to have it in the U.S., one viable option is to ship it overseas to your new home. While it can be slightly expensive to transport the car internationally, people who love their car will find it worth it. Additionally, you can use the car as a vessel to transport a large portion of your family’s belongings. If you are moving to a city with great public transportation, you may wish to leave your car behind. 

Get Ready for New Measurements

For some reason, the United States is one of very few countries in the world that doesn’t use the metric system. You should be prepared to adjust to a different way of thinking and measuring. Start learning things like inches, feet, miles, cups, and gallons to prepare yourself. It’s easy to get a conversion app for your phone in those moments you need help. The weather scale is also different. The United States uses Fahrenheit, not Celsius. To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, there’s a simple formula. Just deduct 32, multiply by 5, then divide by 9. A general temperature guide in Fahrenheit is that under 32 is quite cold, between 32 and 50 is cool moderate, 50-65 is warm moderate, over 65 is pleasant, over 80 is hot, and over 95 is really hot .Finally, shoes and clothes will also be organized with different size labels than you’re used to! A great way to learn about American sizing is to visit a shop as soon as you arrive and get help with a fit. Try things on religiously until you get used to the new sizes.

Get Insurance

You will also need to get healthcare. The United States does not have free health care, but most employers do offer health insurance. They will take the cost out of your check. You usually get a couple of options to choose from. For people with health concerns or families to care for, you probably want to choose the most extensive coverage to be prepared.

It is also the law to have car insurance in the United States, if you plan to drive. Liability insurance only covers the other driver. If you want more coverage, you’ll have to pay for it.

Finally – Welcome to the United States!

Overall, the United States is truly a great place to live. The country is a beautiful mix of industrious determination, creativity, and inclusivity. Welcome, and we hope you succeed here!

Hopefully these tips help, and we wish you good luck in your move to the United States from overseas. If you need any help with moving overseas or furnishing your new home, please reach out to Furnishr. We would love to help make your move as easy as possible.

Advice & Ideas Featured Uncategorized

Furnishr’s 2019 Year in Review

Furnishr is a startup company, which means that we are constantly striving to tweak and improve our services! Our goal is that each and every Furnishr customer experiences delight, ease, and a highly personal touch. And over the last 12 months, we have made some truly awesome improvements to the Furnishr customer experience. So here is our 2019 year in review!

We can’t wait to share with you all the ways we’ve made it better to do business with Furnishr.


We ask a variety of questions in 10-15 different ways to understand our customers’ style profiles. You know those ‘What’s My Style?’ quizzes on Buzzfeed? Well, the Furnishr version is a legit upgrade! We show you real rooms with real furniture that you can buy. And we use branching logic in every quiz, so you never get some random result. The best part is that every customer has a slightly different result. So, you’ll never get exactly the same room as someone else! Your space is different, and your style is different. This tweak to our process has been amazing, and that’s why it has the #1 spot in our Year In Review. We love starting off the consultation process with a treasure chest of rich, personalized style info directly from our customer.


We showcase different look book photos to see what appeals to users. This gives our customers a sense of what different items and arrangements can look like in real life rooms. You can review Furnishr’s previous projects to judge our style for yourself. You can point out furniture items you really love and would like us to incorporate in your own room. The look book is a great way for customers to quickly, and on their own time, evaluate their design options and figure out their own style. Plus, anyone can click on a look book photo to peek inside the back end! You can see a price breakdown for each object in the room, and read about the manufacturer and dimensions of each piece. How’s that for an inside look?


Furnishr co-founder Karen Lau.

This year, we visited lots of manufacturers in person to source the best quality products and newest styles for the upcoming season. What does this mean for customers? Our direct and exclusive relationships with manufacturers allow us to offer our customers up to 20% off the MSRP (or sticker price) of furniture. Plus, our firsthand research means that we can find the most trustworthy and reliable industry partners to produce and deliver your furniture. We’re really proud of this one. In 2019, it’s pretty rare for a furnishing company to have personal industry relationships. Most companies nowadays are comprised of a large warehouse and a fulfillment center. But not Furnishr. We get to know the people we do business with. This helps us stay ahead of the curve and deliver the best customer experience available in the market today.


We improved quality control by testing products over a 1-year period to see how they held up. This is another way that a startup company like Furnishr gets the edge on bigger, warehouse companies. We want to ensure that every single product we bring into your home is built to last, as well as stylish. You deserve more than laminate bedside tables that crack when you put too many books on top! We are committed to continuing our quality control experiments in future years, as we add more manufacturers to our list of trusted partners.


Visit us on Instagram and get design inspo tips for every room in your house!

We kicked our blog and Instagram feed (@furnishr) into high gear and began providing in-depth designer-approved tips and inspiration. Because we believe in good, accessible design for everyone! Whether you’re ready to work with Furnishr, or whether you’re just interested in design — you are welcome in the Furnishr family. Check out the blog for top quality advice, ranging from how to start renting out an Airbnb to easy-to-implement furnishing trends from the 1970s. Same deal on insta. We’re here to inspire, and we’re so happy to be growing our online community of design-minded pals!


Okay, this may seem boring, but it’s actually super duper cool! We are now sorting Furnishr customers into better lists, so that we only email you with relevant info.

For instance, maybe you took our style quiz but you’re not actually moving house yet. In this case, you’ll only get the fun design inspo content and an occasional invitation to start your custom room process. On the other hand, perhaps you’re already enjoying the Furnishr room you bought earlier this year! In that case, we won’t try sell you another room. Instead, you’ll receive a referral code and an insider peek into Furnishr’s upcoming developments (hint: we’re moving into commercial spaces!). We may even invite you to be featured on our blog!

If you’re reading this, we are so grateful for you. Startup companies like us rely on having good relationships and good service records to grow. Furnishr’s commitment to you is that we will always keep learning! We promise to improve every day, every year, and to deliver the absolute best furnishing experience on the market.

And that’s our 2019 Year in Review!

We love hearing about your best moments, too. Feel free to share your 2019 Year in Review highlights in the comments below, and we might feature you over on Instagram.

Have a safe and happy new year, and see you in 2020!

With love,
The Furnishr Team

Advice & Ideas Airbnb Furnishing Design Tips Featured

The best home design shows on Netflix: a complete ranking

No matter your home design kink — renovations, home improvement, interior design, or simply snooping on other people’s houses — we’ve got you covered with our complete (and highly unofficial) ranking of the best home design shows on Netflix.

Criteria, you ask?

Our main criteria is whether the show is actually enjoyable to watch. As a result, this list includes both binge-watching pleasure and popcorn-throwing criticism in this criteria (but not whether it offers actually useful home design advice). We personally watched at least two episodes from each show listed below. Sadly, not all shows will be available in every region (some are only available in the USA and not in Canada, for instance).

So, cozy up, queue these up, and start scheming about your dream home!

Our team will be waiting on the other side to help with all your furnishing needs. Velvet sofa? Check. Hammock chair? Check. The best home design shows are only the beginning of your journey.

1. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

If you’re at all interested in architecture and travel, you will love this show. It is the perfect way to start off your home design binge with some inspiration. Each episode features a top-to-bottom exploration of four extraordinary homes around in the world. The unique angle of this show is that the architect is interviewed, along with the owner. You’ll get a glimpse into the jungle homes of famous cinematographers, and oceanside dwellings of reclusive designers. Piers Taylor (architect) and Caroline Quentin (a comedian) host the show, and it’s actually delightful to see them explore and revel in each new space. This is definitely one of the best home design shows on Netflix.

2. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Now that you’re all fired up and filled up with beautiful imagery, it’s time to ease your transition back into reality. What better way than dear, gentle Marie Kondo? Each episode features Kondo helping someone tidy up their home, and in the process their life. As a result, it’s surprisingly poignant, and it’s a great way to begin growing curiosity and empathy for your stuff. From the grieving widower in a huge messy house to the family cramped in a small apartment, you’ll find tearjerkers and tidying tips in each episode.

3. Grand Designs

Grand Designs

This show, amazingly, began production in 1994 and is still going strong. It’s hosted by Kevin McCloud and each episode follows people in the process of building their dream home. The show features a great diversity of locations and designs, and it’s a great peek into the challenges and triumphs of managing a renovation process. Honestly, McCloud can get a bit annoying to watch, especially in the earlier seasons. But it’s worth it to see the family pull through, solve problems, and discover that their house building process is actually a home building process. As far as Netflix’s offerings go, this is one of the best home design shows.

4. Amazing Interiors

Amazing Interiors

This is an American reality TV show. Keeping that in mind, this show is actually a really sweet reminder that it’s okay to let loose and be yourself in all your weird wackiness. Each episode features three different spaces that may look ordinary on the outside, but have a uniquely quirky interior hidden within. There’s something for everyone, including baseball aficionados, medieval LARPers, and cat-lovers. The home owners are full of passion, and most have no design training whatsoever. Plus, there’s no host or narrator so it’s easy to binge and scrub ahead to the bits you actually want to watch.

5. Interior Design Masters

Interior Design Masters

This is a British reality TV show, so expect something a bit more refined than the American counterparts. It is honestly so fun and stressful to watch! Amateur interior designers compete against one another for a chance to win a commercial design contract. There is such a huge variety in personality and skillset, and it is nail-biting to watch them try to collaborate and finish their rooms by the deadline. It’s an elimination series, so at the end of each episode they send a designer (or two) home. The briefs are always interesting, and the hosts are encouraging but critical. It’s a great show for sparking your own inner designer. Make sure the fridge is stocked before you start this series, as you’ll want to watch them all in a row.

6. The Apartment

The Apartment

This is the longest running reality competition show in Asia! It’s a little like Big Brother meets Interior Design Masters. Most the contestants are influencers, not designers. If you’re into a little drama with your design, you’ll like this show. It’s worth watching just to immerse yourself in a totally different world where the coveted prize is a luxury apartment in Kuala Lumpur. The details are less important than the drama in this series. Because of that, The Apartment is fun to watch with friends or just to have on in the background while you do other stuff. It wouldn’t normally fall under a best home design show ranking, but it’s too fun to leave out.

7. The Great Interior Design Challenge

The Great Interior Design Challenge

Similar to Interior Design Masters, this show pits budding interior designers against each other to win a major design contract. But there’s a fun addition to their challenge. In each episode, each designer is surprised last-minute with an object that they must upcycle and then incorporate into their schemes. Like The Great British Bake Off, it is delightful to watch contestants help and encourage one other while under major stress. Judges Sophie Robinson and Daniel Hopwood hit the perfect tone which balances mentorship with tough love. Another one that’s easy to binge watch and shout at, we highly recommend this series as one of the best home design shows on Netflix.

8. Fix It and Finish It

Fix It and Finish It

This is a home reno show with a heart. Plus, it features the sweet (and easy on the eyes) actor and host Antonio Sabato Jr. This series is a fun and low-key way to enjoy some rapid-fire transformations and feel-good finishes. It follows the classic TV reno process, even though some spaces are not houses but RVs or cabins. First, homeowners talk about their needs and then a team of builders and contractors swoops in to quickly transform the space. The reveals are nice, but don’t expect to feel highly motivated to take on your own projects after watching this show.

9. Cabins In the Wild

Cabins In the Wild

This four-episode series has a bit of an odd premise: designers compete to create designs for themed, portable pop-up hotels in the wilderness. For example, the first episode is all about dragons, where a “cabin built to resemble a dragon’s eye faces off against a dragon’s claw.” But if you’re interested in more quirky spaces, or wide open spaces, then you’ll probably like this show. You never know what to expect and the final designs are guaranteed to surprise and delight.

10. Reno My Reno

Reno My Reno

Pure catharsis. This series features Dave Depencier (and his team) who swoop in to rescue amateur carpenters from their building mistakes. It’s not as mean as it sounds, though. Most of the guests are happy to have help and gracious about learning the correct way to drywall or insulate their cottage. This one is a good mix of practical reno tips, non-toxic masculinity, and a good ole dose of DIY spirit. The best part of Reno My Reno is that the original ideas come from the owners themselves, and the hosts are just there to help them bring their dreams to life.

11. Instant Hotel

Instant Hotel

An Australian reality TV show, Instant Hotel is a competition where homeowners have to turn their homes into instant hotels. Having someone else live in our homes is an idea which most of us have considered at some point, whether for income purposes or the pure satisfaction of offering good hospitality and design. But this show takes it to a whole new level. TV Guide described Instant Hotel as one of the “pettiest” reality shows — so if you’re in the mood for that, then buckle up and get ready to cackle and groan. Everyone’s a little bit annoying, and the points and the judging structure are illogical. But if you like your design shows to have a bit of personality, then check out Instant Hotel.

12. Stay Here

Stay Here

Okay, we know this is a controversial last-place ranking, as a lot of people actually love this show. Stay Here is about makeovers, or how to turn a space into a profit-generator. It features well-known designer Genevieve Gorder from Trading Spaces, and it’s one part design show and one part business consultation. That being said, the home design element of Stay Here is actually quite weak. Most of the makeovers are quite quick and simplistic, and geared towards curb appeal and making money quick from the mass market. Frankly, it made my stomach turn to see someone get so little joy from design and focus so much on making a profit. If you want to transform a space of your own, you’ll find actionable tips on this show. But if you want to be delighted by innovative design and ingenious creativity, you may want to look elsewhere.

Honorary Mentions

We couldn’t fail to mention these delightful shows, which don’t fit squarely into the ‘home design’ niche.

Check out these shows if you’re a sucker for transformation, both personal and literal. Each series is highly enjoyable and easy to watch. You’ll be left with a natural high and a gentle determination to transform the world, starting with yourself.

Love Your Garden
“Alan Titchmarsh surprises deserving people across Britain with transformations to their outdoor living spaces. Alan and his team of experts nurture neglected grounds and turn them into stunning gardens while shoveling out handy hints and advice.”

Big Dreams, Small Spaces
“Monty Don works with amateur gardeners to help them create the garden of their dreams.”

Queer Eye
“More than a decade after the original series went off the air, Netflix reboots the “Queer Eye” franchise with a new Fab Five and a new setting, trading in the concrete jungle of New York City for communities in and around Atlanta. The style experts forge relationships with men and women who often have different beliefs from them, leading to moments of social commentary interspersed with style advice. Advising people in need of lifestyle makeovers are food and wine specialist Antoni Porowski, interior designer Bobby Berk, grooming consultant Jonathan Van Ness, fashion designer Tan France and culture expert Karamo Brown, who reality TV fans may recognize as one of the housemates on “The Real World: Philadelphia.”

How to Live Mortgage Free with Sarah Beeny
“Sarah Beeny meets inspiring people who’ve escaped mortgages quickly by using some clever and simple tricks.”

Money for Nothing
“Winner of `The Great Interior Design Challenge’, Sarah Moore gets brought into more renovation projects on the show ‘Money for Nothing’. In this series, Moore meets different people up and down the UK who are throwing out what they consider to be worthless goods. In each episode, the designer takes three of these worn-out, overused goods and gives them a new life. The items are transformed beyond recognition and given a bespoke edge, which in turn gives them a higher value. Any profit made on the products sold is returned to the original owners.”

Happy binge-watching! And remember that if you start to feel inspired, we are here to help. Take our style quiz or get a custom room design from Furnishr’s interior designers with all your fave prints and textures.


Helping the Homeless at Christmas

Our company, Furnishr, is a furnishing company. We and our clients have the privilege of being housed and warm. This holiday season, too many people are unhoused or struggling to pay rent. It is indeed a luxury to even have a house to furnish! 

So we have put together a list of organizations in Canada. They all focus on helping the homeless and advocating for affordable housing.

Because if you’re like us, as the holiday season comes around, you feel a desire to give back in some way. After all, we’ve all had the experience of buying something and walking right past someone less fortunate.

So if you have a safe and warm place to celebrate the holidays, we hope you’ll consider donating. Helping the homeless is easier than you think.

It must be said that a one-time donation is nice, but it doesn’t really impact long-term outcomes. You could get involved with a community housing initiative near you. Or get involved with advocating for tenant rights and affordable housing. Talk to your local lawmakers about their policies. Ask them how they are helping the homeless and managing the housing crisis. Keep in mind that the temporary influx of well-meaning volunteers around the holidays can actually be really challenging.

Want to work at a soup kitchen for a single day during the holidays? Sounds good at first, but that means that someone has to teach you how to do it. They have to give you a volunteer orientation, and work to your schedule. And all this for the payoff of just a few hours’ work. If that’s all you can offer, great. But otherwise, a more impactful way to help is to become a more long-term volunteer.

At a minimum, smile and engage with the homeless folks you see! Carry gift cards to places like Tim Horton’s, or TTC tokens to give away. The winter holidays are an especially hard time to be unhoused. This is true because of the cold and also cultural expectations around family and joy. 

This holiday season, far too many shelters are at full capacity. But no matter where you are, we can make an impact!

Here are the four housing organizations we recommend most.

    This is a registered charity and social enterprise which redistributes gently-used furniture and housewares. Donors in the community give items, and families and individuals experiencing furniture poverty receive them. Their clients include women and children leaving shelters, the formerly homeless, and newcomers and refugees to Canada. Revenues are generated through their furniture removal service, which is run as a social enterprise. This funds their charitable activities as they work to end furniture poverty “one sofa and one family at a time.” Their vision is a world in which everyone has access to a furnished home.
    Founded in 1972, Wigwamen Incorporated, a non-profit and charitable organization, is Ontario’s oldest and largest urban Aboriginal housing provider. Wigwamen is committed to providing decent, safe and affordable housing to thousands of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families, singles and seniors. It shouldn’t be the case that settlers on native land are housed whereas native peoples are not. 
    This organization proudly provides secure and affordable supportive housing and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Toronto Area. Fife House recognizes that access to secure and affordable housing is a key determinant for the health and well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS. They offer supportive and transitional housing as well as homeless outreach. They accept donations, and they also host many drag events to raise money for housing.
    This is an interfaith program that strives to respond in a meaningful way to the basic physical needs of shelter, food and warm clothing for the less fortunate members of our society. It also responds to the deeply human needs of compassion, dignity and feelings of self-worth. Out of The Cold Foundation supports the Out of the Cold participating agencies. These include churches, synagogues and other groups that provide safe havens for the poor and homeless of our society. You can support them with cash donations or with warm clothing for the homeless.

Below are other organizations throughout Canada which focus on affordable housing, furnishing, or sheltering people from violence.


ReStore via Habitat for Humanity
Niagara Furniture Bank

Affordable Housing and Low-Income Housing


All-Together Affordable Housing in Belleville
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services
Blue Door Shelters
Cambridge Shelter Corporation
Homeless Connect Toronto
House of Friendship in Kitchener
Houselink Community Homes 
Inn from the Cold 
Mainstay Housing
Matthew House Ottawa for refugees
Multifaith Housing Initiative in Ottawa
Out of the Cold Foundation
Parkdale Neighborhood Land Trust
Performing Arts Lodge for sheltering artists who have low income, age or disability
Redwood Park Communities in Barrie
Romero House for refugees in Toronto
St. Vincent Place Men’s Shelter in Sault Ste. Marie
The Inn of the Good Shepherd in Sarnia 
Toronto Community Hostel
Wigwamen Incorporated
Windsor Homes Coalition Inc.
Yonge Street Mission
Youth Without Shelter


Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association
Horizon Housing Society 


Bowser Seniors Housing Society
Journey Home Community for refugee claimant families
Kaslo Housing Society 
Lookout Housing + Health Society
Lumby & District Senior Citizens Housing Society 
M’akola Housing Society on Vancouver Island
Neighborhood Housing Society in Vancouver
Pacifica Housing
Port Alberni Shelter Society
Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby
Squamish Helping Hands 
Tivka Housing Society 


The WestEnd Commons in Winnipeg
Today House in Steinbach 


Habitat for Humanity NWT

* You may notice that Salvation Army isn’t anywhere on our list. Their organization has a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and we feel there are better, more local choices to support with your cash and your time.


Women who are escaping domestic violence are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless during the wintertime. But by donating to a women’s shelter, you can help women and children find a safe place to spend the holiday.


Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society
Odyssey House Women’s Shelter 
Rowan House 


Amata Transition House Society
Campbell River & North Island Transition Society
Greater Victoria Women’s Shelter Society


The exterior of an Anduhyaun building. The word means “our home” in Ojibwe.

Anduhyaun Inc. in Toronto
Bethesda House in Durham 
Cornerstone Housing for Women in Ottawa
Couchiching Jubilee House in Orillia
Dawn House in Kingston 
Leeds and Grenville Interval House
SafeHope Home in Ajax
Sakeenah Homes for Muslim women and children
The Women’s Center Grey Bruce Inc. in Owen Sound 
Women’s Habitat in Toronto
Wyndham House for youth in Guelph
YES Shelter for Youth and Families


Women in Transition House in Fredericton


Adsum for Women and Children
Juniper House
Third Place Transition House


Assistance aux femmes in Montreal
La Sortie / The Way Out 
Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal
West Island Women’s Shelter

Organizations which are helping the homeless who are affected by alcohol and drug dependencies, or who experience mental health challenges or a disability

Alpha House Society in Calgary 
Alternative Residences Alternatives in New Brunswick 
Main Street Project in Winnipeg
Cape Breton Community Housing Association in Nova Scotia 
Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society in BC 
Home on the Hill Supportive Housing in Ontario
House of Compassion in Toronto 
Accessible Housing Calgary
Safe Families Canada

Hospital home-away-from-home housing

Mark Preece Family House

For people affected by disasters

ShelterBox Canada 

As you can see, this is quite a long list. It is sad to realize that these organizations formed in response to the needs of millions of people who find themselves vulnerable to homelessness.

Our hope is that we reach a time when shelters are no longer necessary. We imagine a world where everyone has access to a safe, warm home. And the organizations listed above are helping to build that world by helping the homeless.

Whatever your reason for giving this season, we wish you peace and joy.

Advice & Ideas Uncategorized

Holiday Party Tips: Office Edition

How to survive and thrive at your holiday office party

The holidays are a busy time, and it’s easy to find yourself feeling too sick and tired for a holiday office party. Even Santa takes a good rest each year. But you deserve to celebrate all your hard work! So try to watch your health this month and take care of yourself, okay pals?

Prepare Yourself

It’s a good idea to think ahead to the day of the holiday office party. For example, if you’re an introvert, you might try not to schedule other social events in the days surrounding the party. And you could let your housemates know that your nervous system will need some quiet alone time when you come home that night. If you get a plus one, think about who will be good company. Etiquette says you should check with your significant other — but maybe they don’t actually want to attend! Maybe instead, you have a close friend who would love to see inside your office and meet your work friends.

If you get low blood sugar or have dietary restrictions, try to have a snack before the party. And if you work for a big company, review LinkedIn for a refresher on your coworkers’ names and job titles. If you experience social anxiety (or if you find your coworkers boring or intimidating), it’s totally cool to prep some conversation topics. Talk about your holiday plans and ask about theirs. Ask if they do winter sports or if they like to bake. Otherwise, make sure to hydrate, dress comfortably, and get ready to cut loose!

At the Party

When you arrive, try to talk to new people, and try not to talk about work. But mostly, focus on having a good time and celebrating all your hard work! After all, this party is supposed to be a reward for everything you’ve achieved on behalf of your company. So enjoy it! Emily Post encourages you to say hey to your boss. It’s totally okay to take the opportunity to connect with upper management who you might not usually see in person. But don’t try to impress them by reciting all your achievements. Instead, impress them with your restraint, your calmness, and your conversation skills. Try sharing what you’ve been working on all year, what you love about the company, and asking them about their career.

This might sound lame, but try to check in with folks about social media posts. I know, I know, it’s almost 2020 (!), but you never know what people are going through. For instance, maybe someone cuts loose and drinks more than they anticipated. Or perhaps they’re stepping out with a new partner but it’s not quite public news yet.

Do not rely on alcohol as social lubricant. Some office parties don’t even offer alcoholic drinks, since it can be tempting to overindulge. Here’s a Pro Tip: Don’t interrogate people who aren’t drinking! Maybe they’re pregnant. Maybe they’re an alcoholic. Or maybe they just don’t feel like it! In the end, it’s none of your business if people choose to imbibe.

Lastly, have an exit plan, and try to say goodbye to folks before you leave. Want a real pro tip for nailing office parties? Show up at work the next day in top shape. Hangovers don’t feel nice and they don’t prove anything.

If you’re on the planning committee

This can be a really good way to make sure the party is good! Order the food you like! Bring in a bunch of adoptable puppies! Being part of the preparation process can help you feel more excited to attend. If you’re the planner, you have the opportunity to prioritize accessible activities, eco-friendly decor, and food from local businesses.

And remember, it’s really nice to let people know ahead of time what to expect from the party (dress code, food, activities, duration). Sharing this information increases the likelihood of people actually showing up to the holiday office party. It also gives you the opportunity to get credit for your hard work. Some people have kids and pets, and they need plenty of warning about parties. Ask the company if they’d consider offering a babysitter stipend. Alternately, the company may wish to cover cab fares home to ensure folks can celebrate and still get home safely.


Nobody likes to be forced to participate in games or activities. PLEASE don’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do! It’s generally a good idea to balance high-energy, collaborative activities with low-key solo activities. For example, everyone can enjoy the opportunity to win a door prize via raffle ticket. You could give away extra company merch, or see if any coworkers can contribute tickets or goods. Maybe they have a side hustle making jam! This can be a great way to foster relationships at the end of the year and spotlight people for who they are outside of the office. Setting up a basic photobooth is another good way to encourage people to celebrate. Just set up some lights, add a basket of props, and people can take their own photos.

Too often, gift exchanges become inappropriate and awkward. If you do a white elephant or Secret Santa gift exchange, consider setting a theme like books or edible treats. No more fluffy nipple clamps for Barb the receptionist! Another option is to do something charitable as a team. Donations of canned food, socks for the homeless, or toys for needy children are a good way to give back together.

Finally, to encourage bonding and gratitude (and increase retention!), you could invite people to do some professional reflecting on their best moments of the year and their career goals for the New Year.


We recommend finger food and bite-sized snacks for a holiday office party. Whether you’re getting it catered or preparing the food yourself, smaller servings reduce waste and allow people to eat exactly the amount they like. It’s really easy to buy stuff in bulk and then portion it into smaller servings (like a brownie pan cut into cubes with toothpicks, for example). If it’s a potluck, here are some ideas for easy, impressive, and inclusive dishes to bring.

You could send around a Google Survey to collect people’s dietary restrictions. Either way, try to include some halal, kosher, vegan, GF, keto foods. You could also look for a local food truck to cater your event. Winter can be a slow time for them, so this is a great way to build relationships while supporting local businesses. Cookie decorating is a fun and low-key holiday activity! Buy a bunch of premade sugar cookies (or support a local bakery) and grab some sprinkles and frosting. Remember to ask people about their food allergies beforehand, or plan to have stuff on hand that everyone can eat.


A super way to make your holiday office party inclusive is to offer non-alcoholic drinks. I’m not talking about boring cranberry ginger punch or sparkling water.

A selection of non-alcoholic cocktails from Toronto-based Temperance Cocktails.

Check out Temperance Cocktails for high-quality, beautiful, thoughtful recipes, ingredients, and party services for people who don’t drink alcohol. If you’re in Toronto, they can come to your party and make gorgeous non-boozy beverages. If you’re not, they can ship them to you! Please please please, remind your boss that you need to have non-alcoholic drink options at your holiday party.


Only put up what you feel like taking down again at the end of the night. And remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas! Wintery decor is plenty festive and more inclusive. Also, climate change is real and single-use plastic is not cool — it can be easy to put up seasonal decorations without relying on Dollar Store plastic ornaments.

For instance, you could grab your office projector and play classic movies like It’s a Wonderful Life on a blank wall. Set out paper and scissors for people to make their own paper snowflakes. Hit the thrift store for some gently used garlands and kitschy globes. We recommend a simple color scheme to keep things classy. This also makes it easier to coordinate and delegate if a group of people are buying decor separately.

Feeling Lazy?

If you really want to avoid doing any intense party planning or decorating, then just do in-office stuff. For example, you could organize a casual in-office advent calendar countdown. The company could give away gifts on each day leading up to the last of work before the holidays. Items could be simple, like tangerines, candy canes, tickets to a play, or hot cocoa packets. You could do an in-house catered lunch and invite people to wear ugly holiday sweaters. Set out a wintery puzzle for anyone to work on. Surprise your employees and decorate the conference room, Elf-style.

A woman smiles at the camera in front of her office space, which is decorated for Christmas with inflatable figures and twinkle lights.

You could also organize a desk-decorating competition, or a lunch hour cookie cocoa meeting. Or book an out-of-office activity and avoid having to clean anything up! The boss could schedule massages for everyone. Suggest taking your team to a holiday-themed escape room and then going out for pizza. Make sure that it’s an accessible space, and you’re done and dusted!

Alternatives to Holiday Office Parties

Alternatives to holiday office parties? We’re glad you asked!

Consider doing something family inclusive. Why not open up your office party to employees and their families? The holiday season is always busy, and all too often people spend more time at work than with their families. Float the idea with your team and see if they’re interested.

Or, don’t do a holiday party at all! Typically, large corporations have held their annual parties around Christmastime to celebrate the end of the fiscal year and hand out year-end bonuses. But we live in 2020, and most of you reading this probably work for more interesting companies. So why couldn’t the company plan their big annual party for summer instead of winter?

In the end, a holiday office party is all about celebrating hard work and coming together as a team. So we hope you enjoy yours! Happy holidays from Furnishr.

Advice & Ideas Uncategorized

Santa’s House: A North Pole Master Bedroom by Furnishr

It’s a question that every child ponders when Christmas comes around: What does Santa’s house actually look like?

Many design firms have presented their ideas for Santa’s North Pole abode. But too many of them fail to account for the realities of how Santa’s home would actually need to function to survive in the Arctic.

For example, what kind of geographic limitations would Santa be subject to? How does Santa mitigate the historical and ecological implications of living in the North Pole? And what sort of day-to-day habits would Santa’s house need to provide for?

Santa is truly a magical man, a larger-than-life legend. After all, Santa does more than just deliver presents on Christmas Eve! He lives in the North Pole year round, plotting the perfect Christmas and tracking snow into his semi-underground home. We feel Santa deserves a space which is eco-friendly, cozy, relaxing, enduring, and which balances tradition with innovation.

So, here it is!

Furnishr presents to you our 2019 vision: Santa Claus’s North Pole master bedroom.

A Bedroom Fit for the Arctic

At the risk of sounding obvious, we have designed a custom sleigh bed for dear St. Nick. But this is no ordinary sleigh bed!

Santa’s bed offers warmth, storage, and darkness to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Their four-poster bed features an animal-hide upholstered headboard with ornately carved wooden accents. Big, thick glass windows let in lots of natural daylight and warmth from the sun. Heavy, luxurious velvet curtains can be drawn around the bed to provide darkness during the long and bright Arctic days. Santa also employs smart glass film, so he can shut out the daylight whenever he needs to.

Swedish-style cabin-bed drawers are hidden beneath the mattress, to store extra clothes and blankets. A bedside heated clothes butler (also known as a suit valet stand) helps to keep Santa’s outfit warm and wrinkle-free.

A heated valet stand keeps Santa’s suit warm and dry all year round.

Santa’s house stays warm by being smart, and working with the environment rather than against it. His home utilizes eco-friendly geothermal heating to keep the temperature up (and costs down). Santa has built relationships with the local Sami people, and he has traded with them for animal hides and beautiful handcrafted woolen blankets.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus trade with the Sami for blankets to keep them warm.

Santa’s home is built partly into the ground, which enables him to grow his own food year round. We have it on good authority that Santa is partial to mushroom stew.

Smart Santa

Santa is a humble guy, but he also likes to experiment with new technology.

He relies on solar panels to collect sunlight, which in turn powers his lamps, his smart alarm clock and tablet. He particularly loves his wireless speaker system (Santa has a not-so-secret penchant for the Gipsy Kings). Santa can take his music to go, seamlessly moving from bedroom to sauna without missing a beat. Plus, all his devices are synced up with the elves in the workshop, so Santa can easily send ideas and manage toy production from his bedroom.

His smart doorbell allows Santa and Mrs. Claus to see who is at the front door. If it’s an elf knocking, Santa can automatically unlock the door. But if a sneaky human child shows up at the North Pole, Santa can speak over the intercom and send the child home, all without revealing himself.

Santa is just like the rest of us. He sometimes gets depressed during the long days of winter darkness, when the earth is turned away from the sun.

So, Santa uses a special lamp for light therapy. After all, Santa knows that taking care of his mental health is the key to delivering Christmas joy for millions of children around the world.

Captain Christmas

Santa loves to stay organized. His job is his whole life, so Santa keeps a desk in his bedroom.

Truly, it takes a special person to keep track of the List, plan an annual round the world trip, and stay in a good mood!

When Santa sits down to think about Christmas, he can make himself an espresso with his desk-side espresso machine and enjoy some traditional Swedish ‘coffee cheese.‘ Santa can flick on his elf-made banker light and spin his treasured vintage globe to plan his route across the ocean. His desk is the perfect place for Santa to show off his annual Christmas vision board, or to display toy inspiration sketches for the elves.

When he needs to do some research, Santa rifles through a box full of neatly filed and categorized letters from children. A framed black and white photo of Santa with his crew of reindeer has pride of place. A mini countdown to Christmas calendar magically counts down the days until the big event.

Two pairs of well-worn wooden snowshoes are proudly mounted on their closet door. These come in handy when Mrs. Claus goes to her master kitchen to bake, or when Santa tromps over to the reindeer barn to run flying drills with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.

Near his desk, prints of Arctic wildlife adorn the walls, including sketches of a fox, a puffin, and a polar bear. There are also a traditional Finnish kantele and a willow flute. Santa and Mrs. Claus sometimes enjoy playing music together on cozy winter nights.

It’s chilly outside, but Santa keeps it cozy inside with cheerful illustrations of Arctic animals and traditional Nordic musical instruments.

Finally, a telescope lets Santa stargaze, or bask in the glorious Northern Lights that illuminate the surrounding tundra.

Happy holidays from the Furnishr team!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like this related post: It’s a Wonderful Life: Everything You Didn’t Know About the Furniture from the Holiday Classic Film.

> For more interior design inspo, follow us on Instagram @Furnishr.

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Advice & Ideas Featured Uncategorized

It’s a Wonderful Life: Everything You Didn’t Know About the Furniture from the Classic Holiday Film

The movie It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday classic, re-watched by millions of people every year. Set in the 1930s and 1940s, it wasn’t actually a box office success during the time of its release. But now, it’s seen as a quintessential holiday film with lessons about the meaning of life and the role of community in lifting one another up.

a still image from the film featuring a man, woman, and child in front of a Christmas tree in black and white
Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart, and Karolyn Grimes, in the roles of Mary Hatch, George Bailey, and Zuzu.

Need a plot refresher?

The film is about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), and set in the fictional upstate New York town of Bedford Falls. We follow George as he grows up, falls in love, and has a family of his own. Meanwhile, he struggles to keep his father’s small business up and running. But circumstances lead to George finding himself on a bridge making a suicide attempt on Christmas Eve. However, George’s wish to no longer be alive summons his guardian angel, Clarence, from the heavens! Clarence gives George a glimpse of what the world would look like if he had never been born.

The production design and set dressing for It’s a Wonderful Life is a fantastic feat of world-building. A little known fact is that the special effects team won an award for their noiseless “chemical snow” recipe. At that time in Hollywood, most fake snow was made with cornflakes which crunched. This required that actors dub their lines later on. It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed on a set in California during a heat wave, so they really needed a realistic, quiet snow!

A sign with drifts of snow announces “You are now in Bedford Falls”

But back to the furniture.

The crux of this film is the relationship between the Bailey family and their community. And we’re about to explain how the furniture deftly illuminates this theme. It’s a Wonderful Life is about the complexity and richness of small town relationships. It’s also about how to make the best of life when times are hard, like during the 1930s and 1940s.

George Bailey’s Childhood Home

George Bailey sits with his parents at a dining table, where a beaded pendant lamp hangs.

He grew up in the 1920s, and the furniture in his childhood home reflects this era. Or rather, it reflects the Victorian-style design elements that George’s parents probably inherited from their parents. We see two beautiful beaded hanging lamps, one in the living room and one hovering over the Bailey dinner table.

They are most likely made of slag glass, and resemble the popular Tiffany lamps of the time. We don’t see much of the elder Bailey home, but it does feature sensible, solid wood furniture. We get the feeling that their style is definitely a holdover from Victorian “country-style” decor.

Another example of a hanging pendant lamp, with beaded string and slag glass.

Mr. Henry Potter’s Office

Mr. Potter is the nemesis and polar opposite of George Bailey. Potter is a greedy banker, hoarder of wealth, and ignorant of his community. His office is full of ostentatious displays of his money. It includes two busts of Napoleon, one portrait of himself, statuettes, books, and ornate wood furniture. The height and build of Mr. Potter’s desk accommodates his wheelchair. On his desk, you’ll notice two telephones, assorted papers and pens, and an odd-looking contraption that is actually an old-fashioned letter sealer.

Henry Potter sits at his banker’s desk, as George Bailey gestures angrily at him.

But the major design element in Potter’s office, visible in almost every frame with him, is Potter’s ornate office chair. In fact, this style of chair is actually known as a “throne chair.” This is a clever nod by the designers to Potter’s elevated sense of self. This banker’s chair is French-style, 19th century, and probably carved out of oak or walnut. The chair’s high back and ornate design commands attention and intimidates whoever is sitting across from Potter. This is especially visible when George meets with Potter, who offers him a high-paying job in exchange for liquidating his family business.

This is a brilliant example of how It’s a Wonderful Life uses furniture to contrast George Bailey’s humility and Henry Potter’s excess.

Mary Hatch’s childhood home

George and Mary sit together on a low settee, in Mary’s childhood home.

Mary’s childhood home is delightfully airy, and features several really evocative pieces of furniture from the time period. The first is her carved wood sofa, or settee, in the living room. This is a Rococo-style piece which became quite popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The lace doilies pinned to the back cushions give it a homey feel, and it sits quite low to the ground.

Take a look at the scene pictured above in It’s a Wonderful Life, where George and Mary are sitting together on the settee. You can see that Jimmy Stewart’s knees actually come up much higher than his waist!

An example of the style of carved sofa visible in the scene above, featuring ornate wooden carvings on the back and arms as well as a low, open seating area.

The second major setting in the plot is the telephone area in Mary’s home. At the base of the stairs, we see a marble-top wood table beside a floral armchair. It is here that Mary receives the phone call from Sam Wainwright while George is moping in the living room. This style of marble-top wood end table was a very common piece in homes from this time. And as the 1940s rolled around, florals quickly came back into fashion. We’ll highlight more floral motifs in the new Bailey family home further down (Zuzu’s petals, anyone?).

Mary speaks on the telephone. Around her, we can see the carved settee in the background. Next to Mary is a marble-top wood table and a floral armchair.

“That drafty old house!” – Honeymoon Edition

320 Sycamore is the address of the abandoned, grand old Granville house. This is where George and Mary first throw rocks through the windows and make wishes after the dance.

George and Mary stand outside what will become their future home, 320 Sycamore.

Later on, the couple chooses to give up their honeymoon savings to keep the Building & Loan business afloat. Mary gathers some accomplices, and surprises George by transforming 320 Sycamore into an impromptu bridal suite. The home is still dirty, drippy, and mostly unfurnished, but Mary sets a beautiful dinner table and lights a fire. She sets up a bed with two pairs of slippers, and turns down the blankets.

It’s a pivotal moment in the film – George shows up miserable, and keeps referring to it as “that drafty old house.” But Mary eventually wins him over with ingenuity and love. They enjoy a staycation honeymoon together in Bedford Falls.

Mary waits for George in their “honeymoon” suite at 320 Sycamore.

It’s not clear how long the house has been abandoned. We can clearly see some outdated design elements during these honeymoon scenes. Mostly though, Mary has probably scrounged clean furniture from around town. It’s a Wonderful Life is full of moments where a character relies on their community. They also re-use objects around them to solve a problem.

The Bailey Family Home – It’s a Wonderful Life

Spoiler alert! 320 Sycamore eventually becomes the new Bailey family home. They work together to clean and update the home, and soon Mary has three children, Janie, Zuzu, and Tommy. George is still in a miserable state trying to preserve the family business and resenting his more successful friends. For him, 320 Sycamore is still a symbol of everything that has gone wrong in his life. When he’s frustrated, he still calls it “that drafty old house”.

The loose filial on the newel post on the Bailey staircase is a plot device in the film. Whenever George climbs the stairs, it pops off in his hand and he hatefully jams it back on. But his perspective changes after Clarence shows George what life would be like if he’d never been born. In a poignant moment, George returns to the family house and races up the stairs to see Mary. As he does, the filial once again pops off into his hand, but this time he grins with joy and kisses it gratefully.

George smiles joyously as he replaces the loose filial.

This location serves as the heart of the rest of It’s a Wonderful Life.

It is here that the Bailey family prepares for Christmas eve together. This is where Mary is seen calling the police to look for George when he goes missing. And it’s here that the community comes together to help save the business and celebrate George Bailey.

Mary speaks on the telephone, and the three children are seen playing in the living room.

There are some really cool furnishings here!

First we can spot a lovely 1930s-era radio cabinet over by the Christmas tree. There is an Anthropologie-style butterfly collection mounted above the radio cabinet. The overmantel by the fireplace is a classic feature of homes from earlier years. It has clearly been lovingly restored by the Baileys.

A 1930s style radio cabinet that resembles the Baileys’ cabinet.

We see a sweet toile-style wallpaper throughout the house. Capra gives us a glimpse of Mary applying the wallpaper atop a ladder in a reno montage.

Mary applies new wallpaper to their new family home at 320 Sycamore.

The couple’s bedroom features a classic 1930s-era wrought iron bed frame.

Mary and George lay together in their bed, and she’s about to tell him she is expecting their first child.

In the rest of the house, there are several hanging lamps. These resemble slightly updated versions of the ones in the elder Bailey family home. And there are several highly unique carved wooden display cabinets in the lower level of the Bailey home. They also have a piano, on which Janie practices Christmas songs during the tense family confrontation before George leaves.

Mary rushes up the stairs, past the group of men who want to arrest her husband. A carved wooden shelving unit is visible.

Zuzu’s Bedroom

In Zuzu’s bedroom upstairs, we see flowers almost everywhere. In the scene where she asks George to paste the petals back onto her dying flower, we can see a floral motif throughout. There are flowers on her bed frame, on her bureau, and even on her wallpaper.

The overall theme of the furniture in It’s a Wonderful Life is to make do with what you have. The film takes place during in 1930s and 1940s, as World War Two was dominating the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of the country. Many materials were diverted to the war effort, so people made do with hand me downs from previous generations or DIY projects.

The Bailey family were clearly heroes in this effort. Even though the final scenes takes place in the 1940s, much of the Bailey furniture looks like it’s from the 1930s. Another example of this theme is when George sent his brother to school and stayed behind to run the family business. The Baileys lived small but they were generous, offering up their personal savings to keep the community bank afloat. Mary embodied this theme when she fixed up an old abandoned house for their honeymoon, and eventually it became their permanent home.

The finale takes place on Christmas Eve 1945, after World War Two has officially ended. The Bedford Falls community got news of the Bailey family’s situation with the Building & Loan, and on Christmas Eve they flood their home with well wishers who come bearing cash gifts.

The Gift of Community

A bell hanging on the Bailey Christmas tree is about to ring, signaling that Clarence has finally gotten his wings.

The film ends with a bell ringing, and Clarence the angel gets his wings. George reunites with his family, the community saves the business, and George rediscovers the true meaning of life.

Indeed, It’s a Wonderful Life!

Do you like this style of furniture? We foresee a lot of 1940s style elements coming back into style this year, and the DIY trend will simply never grow old! Let us know in the comments if you learned something new.