Interior Design Vacation Home

The Top 10 Secrets to Designing a Vacation Home


If you’re in the fortunate position of being able to own a second home, I’ve put together a list of the Top 10 Secrets to Designing a Vacation Home for you to keep in mind when starting the interior design process.  These are all based on helping my clients with their weekend getaways, and the things we’ve all learned along the way.  (Note: There is a lot of information on the web about a rental properties that we are not addressing here.  Those houses can have some different needs than ones used mostly by the owners and their friends and family.)

1.Most importantly, don’t play it too safe with design.  This is the time to be adventurous!  I often try to nudge clients to take risks when designing their main residences, and it’s not always easy for people.  I feel it’s my job to push the envelope a bit, and I LOVE when clients go for it. However, I do understand that sometimes it’s difficult for clients to know if a bold design choice will be something they’d want to live with every day.  This is the perfect place for it!  If there’s something that you’ve been drawn to in photos, or in person at hotels and restaurants in exotic locations, this could be the perfect place to experiment, depending on the location of the house.  Try a new color, pattern or style that you may not be brave enough to try at home.

2. Don’t buy furnishings that are too high-maintenance.  No one wants to go on vacation and have to spend time worrying about things being perfect and spotless.  You and your friends and family will want to be able to relax.  There are so many great performance fabrics and rugs on the market now that make cleaning up easier, and in the right colors and textures they can hide wear and tear more easily.

vacation home

3. Taking that a step further, I suggest keeping the clutter to a minimum.  Lots of open shelves and tabletops with knick-knacks and family photos easily collect dust.  Keep this in mind depending on how regularly you want to have to have a cleaning crew come in.

4. This is the place to go all out with luxurious bedding and towels in both the master and guest bedrooms.  It’s especially nice to have a couple of extra sets on hand in case you have extra guests, and so beds can be remade, if needed, before leaving at the end of your stay.  Who doesn’t want to feel well-rested and pampered when she / he is on vacation?

5. Since you’ll want to rest as much as possible, and you may be having more guests at a vacation home than at a main residence, blackout liners are a great thing to consider on all bedroom window coverings (or any room where napping is likely to take place!)

6. Everyone I know with a vacation home tends to pack in as many friends and family members as the house can hold for big holiday weekends and special events.  If this is the kind of house you’ll want to share it’s usually an excellent idea to invest in nice sleeper sofas in any room that needs a sofa (or a club chair, for a twin size mattress).   Just don’t forget to keep in mind how much space the beds will take up in the open position, and make sure that any nearby coffee tables and side tables are lightweight and easy to move out of the way.   Another great option is to turn a guest room into a bunk room with 2 or 3 sets of bunks, so the whole room feels built-in.  There are some great ways of doing full and twin bed combos if needed.

interior design

7. I love adding small live plans and large trees throughout my clients’ homes.  They add so much life and character to a room. Unfortunately, with no one around to water them regularly, they just don’t make sense in a vacation home. Our team has spent a lot of time searching for the perfect faux plants.  What we’ve found is that we usually have to pick and choose them from many different sources as no single source seems to have consistently natural looking items. It’s not easy to put together a great source list because inventory seems to change often.  We tend to like our local downtown flower mart, some design center sources, some local nurseries, and various big box stores and online sources.  The good news is that this seems to be a growing trend, so we are hopeful that they will be better and more natural looking options as time goes on.

8. There are so many recent advances in home automation, and we think it makes even more sense to invest in it in a second home so you can control things from afar.  Researching a good local technician is key, as you will inevitably need service at some point along the way.  Some things to consider are lights on timers, door locks, and camera systems that can provide security support for the times you’re not there.  Some of my clients have invested in window shades being automated on timers so the sun didn’t make the interior finishes too hot.  Another item to consider is having indoor and outdoor speakers installed so you can control the stereo from a cell phone or other device when you’re enjoying the house.

vacation home

9. Designate a storage spot for backups of essential items that you and your guests may need, so you can stock up once in a while and not feel that you need to run out for a lot of supplies every time you arrive in relaxation mode.  This could include linen closet items like extra bedding and towels, lightbulbs, paper towels, detergents, soaps, extra toothbrushes and toiletries, non-perishable food and drink items.

10. Spend some time putting together a house maintenance book.  If you plan to open your vacation house to guests when you aren’t there to act as host you’ll want them to know where everything is and how to take care of things properly, such as any special instructions for washing and cleaning, operating a garage door, automated light systems,etc, as well as contact info for local vendors who may be able to assist if any emergencies come up.  Of course it’s also nice to have a list of your favorite places to go and things to do in the town.

Need help designing a vacation home, or any other interior design help? We can help with kitchen design, bathroom design, general home renovation details, materials selection, furniture planning and furniture selection. Please contact me if you’d like to arrange a time to discuss a full-service interior design project, an hourly interior design consultation .  I can communicate via phone and email for any location, or in person in Los Angeles, focusing primarily on the South Bay: Palos VerdesRolling HillsRedondo BeachHermosa Beach, or Manhattan Beach , but traveling as needed.

UPDATE: I HAVE A NEW WEBSITE TO TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO DO INTERIOR DESIGN FOR THEIR OWN HOMES! Visit PLAN + ELEVATE to watch video tutorials, download exclusive resources and tools, and sign up for a personal interior design video consultation where you can get specific questions answered about your own rooms.

Good luck with your interior design and home renovation projects! Let’s keep in touch:

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