Designing a vacation home: kitchen with an owner's pantry. – Board & Vellum

Custom Residential

What Not to Forget When Designing a Vacation Home

When it comes to vacation home design, there are some things that are decidedly different from a typical home design: features you need in a vacation home that you don’t need in your main home. But what are they? Here are five features you should make sure you include when designing a vacation home.

March 20, 2018

Vacation homes and regular homes have different needs.

I love vacation. It helps me reset my brain and come back to life excited and inspired. It also means you get to stay in really cool places. Wait, no you don’t. Not always, at least. Vacation home design takes some extra care, and it’s not always executed perfectly.

I’ve written before that a lot of vacation homes just plain suck. They’re normal homes masquerading as a vacation home and missing an opportunity to be amazing! You’re going away to forget the woes of the world, not get mad at the crappy home you’re staying in. It should be different not just another normal home in a cool location.

What are the details of a vacation home that you need to get right?

I’ve discussed big picture design concerns before, but the details are often what make a house like this feasible and enjoyable. A lot of these tips, although not all, can be applied to a remodel of an existing vacation home, but many of them apply only to a new home.

  1. Hide your good knives! (Conveniently.) OK, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I love to cook and every single vacation home I’ve stayed at has truly awful knives that can barely cut butter. I have to imagine that there’s a secret stash of knives somewhere. Usually, I find a locked half door under a stair somewhere that I imagine is filled with boxes of amazing kitchen gadgetry and equipment. Don’t be that person – this house is also for your use, and that seems inconvenient. Why not build a small pantry accessible to guests filled with the equipment they’ll need (like crappy knives!) and then have an adjacent and locked pantry for you where you keep all the good stuff. A vacation home that you want to rent out should ideally have numerous locked spaces adjacent to where you’ll need the stuff stored in there, so you don’t spend hours upon arrival unpacking everything.
  2. Batten down the hatches! Vacation homes are often unoccupied for a long time and in harsh environments. You may want to consider lockable shutters for your windows if you are trying to discourage access and protect the home from the elements.
  3. Make sure you have lots of extra beds. The second people hear you have an awesome custom-designed vacation home they’re going to want to come visit you (and you’re going to want to invite them because you’re awesome too). Consider all sorts of options for extra sleeping areas. Obviously, bunk rooms are a great call, but what about storage rooms for roll-away beds, trundle beds, robust air mattresses, and so on.
  4. Who’s that guy on the wall? Decide how comfortable you are having personal photos on display. I really want to have a special button you press when you enter the home that flips all of the photos from personal to generic landscape photographs, but that doesn’t really exist yet. In the meantime, think about how you want to decorate the house. One great solution is to populate the walls with photographs or art that is personal to you (perhaps from a trip) but not revealing of who you actually are.
  5. Expose the dirty laundry. You’re going to generate a lot of dirty sheets and towels in a vacation home (especially if you’re on a beach). Figure out how the house will be cleaned and then factor that into how you’ll live there. Do you want to spend six hours tidying up the house and making all of the beds on your last day in your vacation home before returning back to your main house? You may not be able to find a housekeeper who can (or will) clean up your all-night rager with your college buddies; so, plan for a lot of laundry equipment. Two or even three sets of washer dryers might be the trick to ensuring you can strip the beds, wash the sheets and towels, and be out of there quickly.

In the end, your goal should be to have a house that is used by others the majority of the time be able to flip to something personal very quickly. Plan carefully, and you’ll be able to create something that is personal, inviting, and delights you, while still doing the same for complete strangers.

Complete strangers who, if they’re smart like me, always pack their own knives.

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