The latest trend: renting furniture instead of buying

Sira Huwiler-Flamm

Renting couches, cabinets and kitchen tables instead of buying them – this trend has now arrived in Switzerland as well. The advantages are sustainability and the possibility to reinvent your interior over and again. But is the sharing principle really suitable for everyone?

Trendy items of furniture such as a dark green couch and stool can be seen in a light-filled living room. A large mural with geometric shapes is hanging on the wall.
© Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Sharing is booming – even for consumer goods

“Rent furniture instead of buying it – it's sustainable, cost-effective, flexible and stress-free”. This is this slogan of the Zurich-based company “Furniture Rental”, which specializes in furniture sharing. And it’s not the only provider in Switzerland. Another example is the online designer furniture retailer “Beliani” from Baar, which makes its entire range of over 1,000 couches, beds, garden furniture, whirlpools, lamps and decorative items available to rent for a monthly subscription of as little as 99 francs – including delivery, assembly and disposal of your old furniture. And even home furnishing giants such as IKEA and home technology retailers like Media Markt have already tried out rental models in Switzerland.

“The sharing economy, i.e. services based on renting and sharing, is booming in all areas, including consumer goods,” explains Dr. Dominik Georgi, an economics professor and expert on the sharing economy at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

An economic and social advantage: sharing as a way of life

According to the expert, the main criteria driving the “renting instead of buying” or “sharing instead of owning” trend are the desire to save money and the aspiration to live ecologically, sustainably and socially. “Swiss consumers are attaching ever greater importance to sustainability and are also increasingly open to sharing concepts as their availability grows,” he says. Car-sharing services are already in widespread use, for example, and more and more providers are entering the Swiss market. As Georgi points out, “The average person in Switzerland doesn’t have to be overly careful about spending, and prefers to own items – especially things that are as personal as furniture, baby clothes or festive evening wear.”

However, rental has a distinct advantage when it comes to very expensive, high-end furniture. It is also ideal for consumers who have a hard time making up their minds. Couches, beds or recliners can be tried out during the rental period, as it were, and purchased in a next step – goodbye, uncomfortable dens and sleepless nights, hello, decision-making tools!

A cozy box spring bed with soft pillows can be seen in a bedroom.

Buying a comfortable box spring bed is expensive – renting it first means you can try it out beforehand.

A financial advantage: the ideal solution for temporary circumstances

Did you simply sleep on a mattress without a bed in your first student accommodation? And did you call a room that only contained a chair and a simple clothes rail your home? Furniture rental represents a great alternative to the sparse four walls that people used to have to put up with – not only for students, apprentices and young professionals, but also for short-stay expats and commuters with second homes.

People who lack the money or time to buy furniture can rent it risk-free, at a clearly defined monthly price, and still have attractive items to admire in their homes. And most providers offer a variable selection of rental periods.

A practical advantage: variety in the home

“One of the clear advantages of all sharing offers is that you remain flexible,” says Professor Georgi. For many people, life is constantly changing. Sometimes, after moving house, they find that their old couch won’t fit into their new living room. Or perhaps their study has to make way for a nursery, ready for the latest addition to the family. And some homeowners simply love changing the way their rooms look every now and then, trying out new trends and indulging in the pleasure of redesigning, redecorating and furnishing.

A young couple is carrying a gray couch to be placed against a wall in a living room.

No more empty student accommodation: for young people with little money, furniture rental is a calculable alternative.

If you rent furniture instead of buying it, you can regularly bring variety into your own home without too much financial effort – and without a guilty conscience. The rented furniture won’t end up in incinerators or landfills, but rather will be passed on to someone else after thorough cleaning. Alternatively, of course, you can sell bought furniture on online marketplaces and by placing adverts locally – but the effort is often high and bargain hunters force down prices.

Conclusion: it all depends on needs and taste

Cuddling up on a couch where other families have previously spent their cozy Sundays isn’t for everyone. But furniture rental is a real alternative to buying directly if you like the idea of sustainability and sociability in the spirit of the sharing economy.

Renting instead of buying can be especially worthwhile for articles you will only use for a limited period of time. It can also save you having to purchase very expensive furniture such as a large genuine leather couch, a whirlpool or a designer item. Have you become so fond of a rented item or complete interior that you no longer want to part with it? No problem! Most providers offer you the chance to buy your favorite item after all.

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