Is Renting Furniture The Key To Tackling The Fast Homewares Problem?

In the last few years, as the world has faced shutdowns, self-isolations and lockdowns, many of us turned inward, channelling our energy towards curating our spaces. Where we'd usually get caught up in everyday life, suddenly we had nothing but time to beautify our surroundings. WFH setups quickly became the new beauty shelfies and instead of handbags and shoes, the new covetable items included vases, rugs and even lampshades.
But naturally, with big money to be made, the shift in focus to our homes gave rise to a boom in fast homewares. Where many took to DIY, restoration and thrifting, trends like checkerboard prints, tufted rugs and handmade sculptural candles made by small businesses were suddenly being reproduced, machine-made and sold for pennies on the dollar.
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While this certainly improved accessibility by enabling everyone to indulge in a fun trend no matter their budget, there is an irrevocable cost on the environment. And, unlike clothing, 'cheap' homewares still aren't even that cheap, with big retailers and department stores still keeping the prices relatively steep and the profit margins even wider, despite the obvious lack of quality.
Just like with fashion, though, it's difficult to swear off fast homewares altogether. Whether it's for the convenience, the desire to keep a space fresh or the lack of time or resources to actually search for pieces with longevity, it's hard to opt out of the trend cycle completely. If only there was another way to indulge in the homewares and furniture you wanted without committing to pricey ‘It’ pieces or contributing to environmental waste.
Enter: furniture rental. 
Now, when you hear about furniture renting you typically think of big-ticket electronics, soulless AirBnBs and clunky bits of furniture without any personality or flair. But one business that's changing all of that is the Australian online furniture service AntiCommitment. Boasting an ultra-chic collection of contemporary homewares and selected vintage pieces, the Sydney-based business is changing the way we look at temporary ownership.
"It has been a process committing to AntiCommitment," founder Caillie Dunn tells us about the initial set-up of her business. "For a commitment-phobe, parting with my savings to invest in the first 50 pieces of the collection was stressful."

Deciding on the right pieces was always going to be a gamble, but for the most part, Dunn's expertise and intuition paid off. "I recall the first sofa I offered, a blue velvet one, being something I really questioned — maybe it was too left of field? But it rented out a few weeks after its debut and now I have people messaging me constantly about blue sofas!," she says.

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So, how does renting furniture actually work? The business works on a subscription basis. You select the pieces you like, order them online and have them delivered to you for an indefinite rental period. And since there are no long-term or lock-in contracts, you can keep the rented pieces for as little or as long as you like.
After they've been loved and enjoyed, items are returned to the business, which handles any required cleaning and sanitising before they're made available again to go to a new home — thus removing countless “throwaway” furniture pieces from ending up in landfills and offering up flexibility with decorating choices.
Within its offering, you'll find rare, timeless items like vintage Cesca chairs (typically found on reseller sites for upwards of $350) for $15 per month, and mid-century sideboards in mint condition for just $37 per month. Then there are the more trend-driven pieces like custom-made wavy floor mirrors for $16 per month and boucle armchairs for $26 — statement pieces you might be intrigued by but are never quite sure if the feeling is just seasonal. So if you're someone whose aesthetic constantly ricochets between Japandi-minimalism and Avant Basic maximalist, you can actually do both!
What's more, if you've been eyeing off a floor-to-ceiling mirror for your hallway, but aren't quite sure it'll be worth the cost, renting allows you to see what it's like before deciding if it's worth the splurge or the space.
Even though we're out of lockdown world, the pandemic has spurred many of us to reevaluate what it really means to make a space a home. And the power of creating an environment that evokes a sense of joy, calm or belonging cannot be overstated.
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