5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Furnishing Your Next HMO

We have made plenty of mistakes in building our HMO portfolio over the last 5 years. So, we’re here to share what we’ve learned along the road so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes!

Here are the 5 common mistakes to avoid when furnishing your next HMO or renovation project.

1) Buying too much or too large furniture

This is an easy mistake, particularly now that we buy most furniture online. At one time or another, we’ve all ordered something that looked amazing online but was totally different when delivered. 

Well, it’s the same with furniture. A piece that looks lovely and petite online turns up, and it’s bigger than the sun! It happens all the time because furniture companies use virtual staging to showcase their products rather than authentic images of them in place. 

So, how can you avoid this pitfall? Our answer is to always draw up-to-scale drawings of your property. I hope you’re doing this anyway, as it’s a fantastic tool when trying out different layouts in your property to make the most of your space. I struggle to visualise in my head, so I have to see a floor plan before deciding whether I like a layout. I find it’s best to make mistakes in floor planning software rather than lugging heavy furniture around on-site to try out different configurations (your team will thank you as well). 

Once you have layouts you are happy with, you can start your furniture shopping. Make sure that each time you find a piece of furniture you like, you return to your floor plan and update the size of the furniture on the software. That way, you can double-check the actual size of the piece you’ve found. 

2) Choosing fad or trending furniture

I’m not hell-bent on avoiding trends entirely, but by definition, a trend is something short-lived. As someone building a property portfolio for the long-term, I’m not planning to change my furniture every few years just to ensure I always have the next best thing! Think of how much money we would waste on furniture and building costs, let alone the logistical work and disruption to tenants. 

So, what can you do instead? Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that a property does not need to be ‘trendy’ to stand out in the market. In fact, most tenants want nothing more from their properties other than a space to relax and feel at home. Unfortunately, this is a point that a lot of investors forget.

I would prefer you think of your furniture as more of a base for your overall design. I like to stick to more natural materials like wood, marble and metal for my furniture. Unless the whole scheme has a style (such as industrial), I tend to keep things simple and focus on good quality, stylish but timeless pieces. 

To add pops of colour and striking pieces, try to do this through your choice of soft furnishings. Think art, prints, cushions, throws, wall coverings, rugs and a statement piece or two. Make sure that anything you use is something you don’t mind replacing in a few years. 

3) Buying too cheap

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a bargain. There’s not much else that makes me happier than finding excellent quality furniture at a low price. 

It isn’t a bargain, however, if you buy poor-quality furniture cheaply. Sometimes, furniture is cheap for a reason. The issues of buying cheap are twofold – firstly, don’t you think tenants deserve to have furniture that stays the course of their tenancy? Secondly, it’s a waste of your time constantly having to replace furniture every year.

My best tips? Read the reviews, especially if you consider a brand you’ve never purchased from before. Product reviews are a great indicator of how other people’s experiences. My other tip would be to build a database of brands and furniture that you know provides good quality for reasonable prices. We have a list of brands we like to use in our client’s projects because we know they are trustworthy!

4) Choosing not to stage

I know staging your properties involves spending more money. I hear you, but this investment is well worthwhile. On the other hand, choosing not to stage means your property can look cold and empty, leaving prospective tenants/buyers to think hard about imagining themselves living there. You want tenants/buyers to buy with their hearts, not their heads!

Where do you start with staging? Whether you are renting or selling your property, you can buy the pieces yourself or hire them. There is even a virtual staging option where furniture is “photoshopped” into your photos. However, the virtual option does mean that your property is still empty during physical viewings!

If you’re thinking about staging yourself, then check out our FREE Staging Essentials Checklist for a list of everything you could need to stage your next property. Or, book a discovery call with us to see how we can support you. 

5) Forgetting about storage

Our final mistake to avoid is forgetting to think through storage ideas. Storage is essential if you’re renting your property.

In an HMO, a tenant’s space to live that is entirely their own is their bedroom. So, storage is critical. Think about all the items of yours that live outside of your bedroom. Do you keep your shoes and coat downstairs in the hallway? Do you have a separate room as your office? All those things your tenants will need to keep in their room, so it can get very full very quickly. 

How can you add extra storage? Well, think about filling any hidden areas and nooks with storage. For example, under the bed, putting a built-in wardrobe next to a chimney breast to make the most of the height. You can also be clever with your furniture by choosing bedsides with three drawers or a desk with drawers. Of course, if the room has space, you should provide an ample wardrobe too. 

And there you have it! If you found this blog helpful but would still like extra support, book a discovery call with us today!

Here at Åben, we are interior designers on a mission to save you time and hassle in your property investment projects, letting you get back to building your business. So let’s see how we can help you on your next project!

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