Should We All Start Renting Our Furniture?

published Apr 24, 2019
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Rent the Runway is my secret weapon. Instead of spending a small fortune on new clothes and accessories, I invest in the Unlimited subscription and receive trendy pieces (plus too many compliments to count) for a fraction of the price. Renting fashion is quickly catching on. Every time I drop off the garment bag full of clothes at my nearby UPS, I see at least two identical parcels in queue.

We’ve rented clothes, movies, and apartments, but our furniture? It’s not as crazy as you’d think.

Over the past few years we’ve seen more initiatives that promote renting furniture. There are brands like Feather, which offers furniture on a subscription service. Recently, West Elm partnered with Rent the Runway to create 26 “home bundles” for the living room and bedroom, making it possible to switch up your decor as often as you do your closet.

So what’s the deal? Should we all be renting our furniture?

For people who move every few years, the answer just might be yes. Rentals are a sound way to pick out furniture for your current space—without worrying about schlepping it to a future home.

“It has become a luxury not to have to make long-term decisions,” says Stephanie Hauptli, founder of Hauptli Haus Interiors and Hauptil House Kids. “I think the convenience of renting furniture lies in this exact luxury of lifestyle. It suits someone at this very exact moment, and they don’t need to think too hard about anything but this moment in their life.”

Jay Reno, CEO and founder of Feather, claims the average millennial moves 12 times before buying a home. Wow! So renting furniture can be less about changing up your home’s vibe and more about being conducive for a modern dweller’s lifestyle.

“Consumers are craving more flexible options when it comes to their furniture, but they don’t want to give up quality and design—and they shouldn’t have to,” Reno explains. “By subscribing to your furniture, you’re able to furnish your space with quality items that are well designed while maintaining the flexibility to swap, return or buy your items when life changes.”

Renting furniture isn’t only a plus for people on the move, but also for those who want to decrease their carbon footprint.

“So much of the furniture being produced today is made with the intention of starting and ending with the same consumer, and then being thrown away,” Reno explains. “This has a hugely detrimental impact on the earth. We believe that by giving furniture multiple lives, we will help keep it off the streets and out of landfills.”

With Feather, you can rent a piece or package with multiple items for 12 months. Once your plan is over, you can choose whether you want to renew your rental (and pay less), swap out your pieces for something new, or pay the difference and finally own that mid-century modern couch.

I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds great, but what happens if I choose to get a dog or start a family?” After all, baby drool and dog hair doesn’t pair well with an ultra-luxe velvet couch.

When asked about renting furniture when you have pets or kids, Feather’s Reno wasn’t concerned.

“Our customers are primarily between college and purchasing a home (18 to 35 years old), renting their apartments, and moving every few years—so many of them have kids and pets,” he says. “This group tends to rent their apartment, moves on an almost yearly basis, and changes their lifestyles and tastes relatively frequently. Our flexible, accessible, and convenient subscription service suits their needs perfectly.”

So should we all ditch our store-bought furniture for something temporary? Not necessarily. Even Reno points out that rental home decor isn’t for everyone.

“If you are in a situation where you’re settled in your ‘forever home,’ we understand that you might want to purchase furniture,” he explains. “But as a sustainability-minded company, we always advise to buy high quality furniture that will last, or buy secondhand furniture if you can’t subscribe to your items.

For Hauptli, putting an expiration date on your furniture can keep your house from feeling like a home.

“There is a disconnect between the person and the story behind pieces of furniture,” she says. “Personally, I like things to be in my life that have meaning. Rented furniture is temporary, so to speak. You don’t own it, so its soulless in a sense.”

The bottom line is the answer lies in the homeowner. But before you decide to rent or buy your furniture, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons.

“Compare the price of renting vs buying and even browse consignment stores for furniture,” Hauptli says. “Long-term furniture rentals might add up incredibly fast and not be the kind of commitment that was desired by not committing to owning furniture!”

So what do you think? Are you thinking about renting your furniture? Sound off in the comments below!