The main photo is courtesy of Feather who offers stylish furniture rentals in over 2,000 zip codes across New York City, California, Texas, Virginia, Maryland and DC.
Online furniture rental companies are offering compelling benefits for a wide range of life stages, from just starting out to established homeownership.
New online furniture rental companies appear to be popping up almost monthly in a race to capture Direct-to-Consumer furniture rental dollars. We are deluged with ads touting:
- Vast Online Furniture Selections & Collections
- Free White Glove Delivery with Set Up
- Low Monthly Fees with Flexible Terms
- Convenient Rent-to-Buy and Trade-In Options
Although we have always owned furniture and décor that we have collected throughout our lives, we were intrigued to investigate the current breadth of benefits and use-cases that these home décor firms now offer. In short, the financial and logistical flexibility, plus quality assortments, offered by these companies makes for several compelling applications you may not have previously considered. Here’s what we discovered.
Table of Contents
- Popular Furniture Rental Companies
- Is Online Furniture Rental Economical?
- Scenarios When Furniture Rental Makes Sense
- Creative Reasons to Rent Furniture
- Rental Furniture Resources
Popular Furniture Rental Companies
Although availability is proliferating, many services have limited geographic delivery. UpFurnish is the exception, as they ship their furniture across the continental US. The current crop of new furniture rental companies include:
- Conjure: NYC, NJ & Long Island
- The Everset: NYC, NJ & Long Island
- Feather: NYC, CA, TX, VA, MD & DC
- Fernish: SoCal, SEA, DFW & ATX
- Inhabitr: ATX, Baltimore, CHI, DFW, DC, Madison, Milwaukee, PHI, PHX, Portland & SEA
- Oliver Space: SF, LA, SD, ATX, DFW & SEA
- Pivot: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba & Saskatchewan
- UpFurnish: Ships to all states in the continental US
- ZZ Driggs: NYC, NJ & CT
Though there are several interesting startups in the furniture rental space, be sure to check out the offerings of the “Big Three” (Aaron’s, Brook and Cort) as these well-established companies have virtually invented the furniture rental industry. They are also an excellent source for purchasing lightly used furnishings that can help fill out various parts of your home economically.
- Aaron’s: 1,325 locations across the US and Canada
- Brook: CA, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TX, VA, WA & WI
- Cort: Locations in 33 states + DC
Most of these firms, both new and established, offer the following benefits to consumers:
- High-quality commercial grade furnishings and upholstery
- Viewable online inventory of furniture and décor
- Conveniently curated collections by room and living situations
- Flexible terms that suit personal needs
- Fast delivery that takes far less time than purchased furniture, often within 7 days
- On-site assembly and arrangement of furniture
- Options to purchase
- Options to exchange pieces
- Free pickup at the end of your contract
- Moving assistance if maintaining your subscription within the same market
Though online furniture rental had been primarily focused on corporate housing in large cities, this has been changing, as consumers encounter more uncertainty and dynamic living situations. Preferences and needs for many US consumers have rapidly changed towards valuing the benefits of higher-quality products and flexibility in the short-term, over the long-term benefits of ownership (e.g. cost-savings and stability).
In these changing times, you may not have realized that online furniture rental can solve several pressing issues that you may currently be facing.
Is Online Furniture Rental Economical?
We studied the economics of the furniture rental model and determined that a sofa, two side chairs, a coffee table, two end tables and a large area rug is roughly $200 per month. Annualized, those rental items would cost a consumer $2,400. In today’s retail furniture market, those exact rental items would command almost $4,000 to purchase.
Given that furniture rental firms universally offer a rent-to-own option, this is a valuable option to have, especially if you are unsure of how long you would want to hold on to your furniture. If the likelihood of staying in your current residence for a longer period becomes more certain, then the rent-to-own option would make sound financial sense. If, on the other hand, you will likely need to relocate, completing the rental agreement would be a better choice, which would also spare you the cost and inconvenience of moving the furniture in question.
As comparison, if you purchased the $4,000 set and needed to sell it one year later, a 70% used value would represent a loss of $1,200 for the year. A 50% resale value would represent a loss of $2,000 for the year. The less time you have to sell your furniture will directly decrease the chances of a receiving a high resale value.
To calculate if a rental agreement will make financial sense in exchange for the convenience and flexibility, you will need to keep the following in mind:
- Minimum dollar amount of a rental agreement
- Minimum number of months of a rental agreement
- Cost to own for each item rented
- Minimum total cost of a contract
- Estimated purchase cost of a comparable furniture collection
- Estimated resale value of a comparable purchased collection after 1 year
- All moving and delivery fees of permanent furniture
In the end analysis, the out-of-pocket expenses you pay towards rental furniture should be compared to the convenience and flexibility it affords you. In other words, the more uncertain your living situation will be in the short-term, the more valuable and appealing renting furniture should be to you.
As your living situation becomes more stable, we would recommend exploring your rent-to-own options or other flexible payment plans like Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) that can offer financial breathing room as you furnish your home.
Scenarios When Furniture Rental Makes Sense
Furniture rental makes sense if:
- You are financially strapped, but desire a professional-looking home
- Your short-term rental needs do not exceed six months
- You are sharing a home with at least two other adults and would prefer to split the cost of common room furniture, such as a dining area, living room or outdoor patio furniture
- Your residence tenure at the current location is uncertain
- You need a fully furnished abode now, not in 10 weeks with limitless delays, as is often the case with furniture purchases
- You have a limited credit history, e.g. you are foreign national student, or are in the early stages of building your credit score. NOTE: Each furniture rental company has a minimum FICO score that renters must meet in order to be eligible for their programs. However, some companies will require a deposit if your credit history is less than their minimum value.
Creative Reasons to Rent Furniture
- Rental Properties
- Short-Term Room Conversions
- New Interior Design Concepts
- Short-Term Living Arrangements
- Professional Homesharing Residences
If you have rental properties, especially in a college or corporate town, then online rental is definitely for you. Instead of purchasing a full household of furniture, simply rent items to refresh the residence after each renter’s lease has expired. We mention college and corporate towns being of importance, as professors, visiting scholars, busy corporate professionals are all great tenants who need to have a place to come home to that is also suitable for entertaining.
Futons, milk crates, and old furniture will not suffice for upscale, professional renters. Since the rental prices for full packages are reasonable, this clientele would be willing to pay a premium for fully furnished, stylish décor as you can pass this expense on as a premium feature.
The best part is that you never have to lift a finger for move in, set up or move out as all of this is handled by the rental company, and your rental furniture is always new or only gently worn.
Planning an event and need extra sofas, another dining table or more outdoor patio furniture? Using online furniture companies can save you a lot of headache such as logistics for timing of delivery, sizing, style and of course, financing. With flexible terms available, you can rent what you need, when you need it without ever leaving your home. Online selection makes the process painless, especially when working with tight timelines and budgets.
If signing a rental agreement for just one event may seem like overkill, perhaps this might be a better fit when considering your entertaining plans for the summer months or over the winter holidays. In any case, be sure to inquire about short-term options. Keep in mind that some rental firms may have offerings specifically for events, like Cort.
Short-Term Room Conversions
Holidays and unexpected out-of-town guests have a way of sneaking up on you, when you have too little time and a lengthy to-do list to complete. Curated packages are available at many online furniture rental companies, which can help with indecision and concerns about whether your selections will look “put together” or elegant enough for your space.
Turn that storage room into an extra guest bedroom for the holidays or any time you need to convert an empty room into a well-decorated, comfortable guest or lounge area for additional long-term or short-term visitors. When the visitation period is over, simply call the rental company and they will perform all the work to break down and remove your rented items.
New Interior Design Concepts
Can’t decide between modern, contemporary or traditional furniture for your great room renovation? Why not try all three using the returns, swap and add-on features offered by online furniture rental companies? These options allow you to live with a certain look in your space, change your mind, and opt for another selection, all without any heavy lifting or set ups.
This is an especially interesting use for online rental furniture companies, if you are designing around a particular piece and would like to trial various styles and designs around an heirloom or statement piece of furniture or décor. Rugs are another good example of important pieces to test out in terms of size and color pattern.
Short-Term Living Arrangements
Gig Assignments, Temporary Relocations, Student Living, Summer Internships
You no longer need to settle for worn, hand-me-down furniture when you decide on an out-of-town assignment that entails a temporary relocation. Online furniture rental allows you to furnish a simple studio or an entire home, including an outdoor space, all from the comfort of your phone or computer. Choose a curated package or mix and match to suit your needs for the duration of your assignment.
Summer interns settling into a short-term internship, can order furniture and have a fully furnished apartment in about 7 days, far less time than the order and delivery of a purchased bedroom set. College students looking to live off-campus in a rental home can furniture all or just common areas, while sharing monthly fees with roommates, making this service very cost-competitive with cheaper alternatives. Rent only for the duration of the academic year with no-fuss removal before the summer break.
Selling your current home before moving into your future home has often presented problems for homeowners looking for temporary living situations. With online furniture rental you need only put your permanent furniture in storage after selling your current home, and rent temporary housing with rental furniture. No additional moving or setup is required as all of the “heavy lifting” is included in the package. The flexibility of online furniture rental suits this scenario, as construction delays can be one to twelve months or more depending on the individual situation.
Professional Homesharing Residences
A trend that is becoming more popular in cities with housing affordability issues across the US is “Professional Home Sharing”. Professional, working adults are matched with like-minded individuals to share the cost-of-living in a multi-bedroom, multi-bathroom home, while sharing common areas such as the kitchen, dining room, laundry facilities and outdoor spaces.
What started as a way for divorced or widowed homeowners to help make ends meet, turned into a call for social and community building based on common interests for working adults that prefer to live in arrangements where they can socialize with compatible co-tenants.
Rental Furniture Resources
- Cort Events
- West Elm Home Décor with Rent the Runway
- Interview with Jay Reno, Founder of Feather
- Zeus Living: Furnished Property Management
Pre-Owned Furniture Marketplaces & Outlets
- The Everset
- Oliver Space
- ZZ Driggs
- How to Furnish Your Home Responsibly with “Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)”
- How to Apply Transformable Interior Design to Your Home
- How to Choose Interor Design Services from Virtual to Full-Service
- How Acoustic Panels Can Help Mute Loud Interior Spaces
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