You Can Rent Your Home Decor Instead of Buying It, but Should You?

So you want a total home decor refresh, but you’re reluctant to drop the big bucks to turn your home into a Pinterest-worthy palace? You may be in luck: Rent the Runway, an online rental service that provides designer clothing and accessories for a fraction of the purchase price, is teaming up with West Elm to rent out chic home decor.

Starting in June, a selection of 26 West Elm bedroom and living room bundles (including comforters, quilts, shams, decorative pillows, and more) will be available to rent under the Rent the Runway umbrella,

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These home decor bundles will be available only through Rent the Runway subscriptions. The company’s two subscription plans currently cost $89 a month for four rentals per month, and $159 a month for unlimited rentals. Customers who are particularly attached to a specific rental they’ve chosen can keep it for as long as they want and eventually purchase the pieces at a discounted price.

Yet as convenient as renting your home decor sounds, it raises plenty of questions, too. For example: Will it be better for your wallet to rent instead of buy? Heck, is it even hygienic to put furnishings in your home that have touched countless other people and pets? Here’s what to know about renting your home decor.

Does it make sense financially to rent home furnishings?

While renting home decor may seem like a cheap and easy way to switch up your style each season, it may cost you a pretty penny if you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, according to Alex Lavrenov, a New York City–based real estate agent with Warburg Realty.

“If you buy a home with the intention of owning it for a long time, it makes sense to just purchase your furnishings,” he says. “It may very well be that you will spend more renting one piece over 12 months than that same piece would cost you outright.”

Instead, Lavrenov predicts that home decor rentals will have major appeal for short-term renters.

“Renting furnishings really only makes sense if you are renting for 30 to 90 days maximum,” adds Amanda Carlson, lead interior designer and home stager with Southern Athena, in Nashville, TN. “It may be used by people in larger cities that tend to apartment-hop more often because it gives them freedom to change up their decor quickly each time they head to a new space.”

However, Carlson also points out that furnishing rentals could be a game changer for potential sellers looking to update their decor before they list their home.

“But I would still urge homeowners to hire a certified home stager to work on this process with; they are the expert on what is appropriate for each space,” she says.

What home decor is safe to rent—and what should you avoid?

Although Rent the Runway dry-cleans rental furnishings once they’re returned, Carlson would still be cautious about putting fabric items like pillows, blankets, and comforters in her home.

“It is always easier to rent nonfabric items such as tables and consoles,” she says. “I personally worry about animal hair and dander getting down into fabric goods and then still being there once the product is rented to someone with a pet allergy.”

Bryan Stoddard, creator of home improvement site Homeware Insider, also suggests avoiding fabric items and always checking a rental service’s cleaning policies.

“People must understand that rented items have often seen some use,” he says. “It might feel uncomfortable to rent items that, for example, you can sit or [lie] on, like extra pillows, carpets, and even sofas.”


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