Second homes are great for weekend getaways and family vacations. If you are thinking about purchasing a vacation home near the coast or in the mountains, keep in mind that designing a second home is different than planning your primary residence. A good designer can help you navigate the journey, which can be almost as much fun as second home living itself.
The starting point
As a designer, I begin every project with a list of questions for the client. Some of the questions include: how often will the home be used; will you rent it; are pets allowed; and will there be children occupying the space?
In addition, I always like to ask my clients to share their visions for what they want the home to look and feel like. With these answers, I can help create a beautiful second home that can be passed from generation to generation.
All vacation or second homes should first and foremost be livable and comfortable, and beauty should follow.
Down to the details
Rest is usually indicative of second home living. The bedrooms should be overly inviting and relaxed. I recommend pillow-top mattresses. The softness of the cushy top is comfortable, but the coils are firm and supportive. Also, sheets should not be judged by thread count alone. For a smooth, luxurious feel, combed 100 percent cotton sheets are perfect. Conversely, uncombed sheets provide a crisp, summer breeze sensation.
Keeping it local
Consider collecting artwork and accessories made by local artisans from the area in which your second home is located. This can be a fun way to incorporate native culture and fill your home with meaningful objects and accents.
Oftentimes, after the majority of the main design work is finished, I mark wall spaces with painter’s tape and provide a list of sizes and wall holes for art and accessories. This allows my clients to leisurely shop for art, pottery and antiques to more easily fill those areas.
Pushing the limit
I encourage clients to think outside the box, no matter how much they love their primary residences. Second homes are adventures in and of themselves, so it is best to create a special style and feeling that supports how you want to live and function in the space. This means choosing a different color palette from your permanent home.
Strong uses of color and strategically placed, complementary furniture can generate cozy and inviting living spaces, perfect for vacation homes. Second home interiors should reflect your inspiration for purchasing the home in the first place, whether a coastal-beachy flair, a countryside ambience or other environment.
The spaghetti test
Keep your second home simple. For every decision, think hassle-free. If your children or grandchildren will be visiting often, consider kid-friendly upholstery, barstools and kitchen chairs. Sometimes, I help clients make decisions for vacation homes based on what I call the “spaghetti test.”
Almost everyone makes a pot of spaghetti while on vacation. It is fast and simple. At the same time, you also want to feel comfortable enough to eat that plate of spaghetti anywhere in the house. Inevitably, it will spill. This is a good way to ask yourself if your furnishings and fabrics will hold up to the test.
Time to get practical
Consider indoor/outdoor fabrics for your furnishings and window treatments. There is a plethora of high-performance fabrics on the market. In most cases, you cannot tell the material is indoor/outdoor, making it optional for most any space.
Rugs made from these types of fabrics are affordable and easy to maintain. When soiled, you can simply wipe them clean or even hose them off outside.
Leathers and pleathers are also practical options in a variety of textures. A word of caution about using this type of product if you have pets: Sharp nails can puncture the material, so be careful with your selections.
Cover it up
Slipcovers have come a long way. They can be tailored, and the fabric range is fabulous and often stain-resistant. If your vacation home is on the rental market, slipcovers are ideal. You can purchase furniture frames, then change out the covers for a fresh look or launder them for the next season. I often advise clients to have their own set of slipcovers for personal use, especially if the home is part of a rental program.
Myrtle Beach-based interior designer KIMBERLY GRIGG is the owner of Knotting Hill Interiors and specializes in designing, renovating and redecorating homes in the South. Her new design book is “ Secrets of Southern Design.” Visit www.knottinghillinteriors.com and www.itssofabulousblog.com.