What appliances should you buy?

Many people look at a vacation rental the same way they look at their home. They think “I need a gas range because I love cooking with gas, I need a big refrigerator because I only want to go the store once per week, and I want a fancy dishwasher with steam and a third rack.” The mistake in this thought process is that your Airbnb will be used the same way we use our primary residences, when in reality it won’t be.

Most guests stay an average of 3 days at a vacation rental. Even if they stay for longer, they are likely on vacation and will be eating out more than at home. We focus on how an appliance will look in the space and how easy is it for our guests to use. Our favorite appliances are the simple pared down version of a more expensive model and we prefer the look of stainless steel as it holds up well and looks upscale.  Black works as well if it goes well with your design, but white appliances are hard to keep in good shape.

Be aware that if you are shopping holiday sales (and we love sales), the less expensive models get sold out or back ordered first. If you need them now, pony up the extra few hundred dollars and get your AirBnB up and running instead of waiting a month or more for your appliances to arrive.

Our favorite places to buy appliances are at Home Depot, Lowes, and Costco because they offer the best selection for the price.

Home Depot
Home Depot

We have had a pretty good run with Whirlpool brand appliance so that is currently what we look at first, but sometimes another brand comes up with a really great deal that we will use instead. If you have multiple units, it is a good idea to stick with one brand and model of appliance to keep your operating instructions for all units the same.

When researching appliances: Look at a few important details.
  1. Ratings: At least 4 stars or we are not interested. If it is a new model, be aware you are taking a risk, which can sometimes mean a discount as well. Just make sure it is a reputable brand and has some warranty so it can be returned if it’s a lemon.
  2. Looks: Will this fit the look of my property? Stainless steel is timeless, goes with everything and most people equate it with upscale.
  3. Dimensions: All appliances are not the same size. Refrigerators range from 30-36″ wide in standard models, most ranges are 30″ wide, dishwashers are usually 24″ wide and microwaves usually fit over your range. Be sure to measure height and depth as well as these measurements aren’t always standard.
  4. How easy is this to use? Look at the controls and see if you can figure out how to work it in 10 seconds or less. Now ask your Mom if she can figure out how to use it. I love my Mom, but she is not very technically or mechanically inclined. If she can’t figure it out, I may need to reconsider or write detailed instructions in my guidebook how to use the appliance.


  • Freezer– Essential and expected.
  • Ice maker– Useful & a lot easier than putting in ice trays. Whirpool Ice Maker
  • Water Dispenser– We go back and forth whether this is necessary.In Steamboat Springs, CO, where Jake owns a number of rentals, the water is fantastic so this wasn’t a necessity. If you are on a budget, don’t worry about it and buy a Brita type water filter and no one will be upset.


  • Jake prefers electric because he is a firefighter and the thought of someone accidentally leaving the gas on and a fire starting drives him crazy.
  • Many people love a convection oven but this won’t book nights at your unit.
  • Self cleaning is another nice option.


  • Simple Controls– Controls for dishwashers can be very confusing, so make sure you get something easy for your guests to use.
  • A stainless steel tub is worth it if you can spend a few hundred extra dollars on it.


  • Don’t overthink it!This is an item I don’t give a whole lot of thought to. I buy the unit that will mount above the stove and matches the rest of the appliances I bought.

Ready to get the smaller appliances and other kitchen essentials that will make your AirBnb stand out above the rest?

Click Here!

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