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How to Decorate and Stock Your Vacation Home

If there’s one rule I’d make for decorating your vacation home it would be this:

Make it as cozy and homey as your primary home.

That’s it.

Your second home should still feel like home. While it may sound simple, when designing a vacation home you likely feel the same anxieties as every new homeowner so let’s go over the specifics for designing a perfect vacation home.

Stocking a Vacation Home

Have you ever rented a vacation home and it just has the bare essentials? Just enough of everything to accommodate a select number of people?

That doesn’t feel like home.

Your vacation home should be just as conveniently stocked as your primary home. There should be plenty of flatware, tableware, cookware, linens, etc. And don’t forget things like small kitchen appliances, tablecloths, alarm clocks, hangers, extra pillows and throw blankets.

Pretend you’re actually going to live here full time and buy accordingly. Too often we view our vacation home more like a hotel. We don’t put enough thought into the design or functionality of the space.

To really make it your own, don’t forget to add homey accessories like candles, vases, and a few family photos.

Vacation Home Interior Design

While your main style preferences aren’t going to change from place to place you do need to think about how you’ll use the home and plan accordingly.

A primary residence and a vacation home rarely serve identical functions.

Think about how casual or formal you’d like the space to be. Will you host dinner parties? Will you ever host large groups overnight? These are things you’ll want to consider.

I love to see people think outside the box a little when it comes to design, but in vacation homes we tend to get stuck. There seems to be a fixation on thinking it needs a theme.

I'm here to tell you:

It does NOT need a theme.

But if you must, I recommend not being too on the nose about it. A lake house done top to bottom in blue and white, driftwood, and sailboats is a good example of being too on the nose.

Instead, I suggest looking for something you’ve always wanted in a design but it never quite worked in your main home. For instance, I love pretty, light, feminine spaces but my house is anything but, so in a vacation home I might go in that direction.

How to Furnish Your Vacation Home

One of the things I often come across in vacation homes is a lack of furnishings. Don’t skimp on furnishings. Fill the space completely or it will feel sparse which is an instant killer for comfort and enjoyability.

Here’s a good example of what I mean. Think of all the furniture that can go into a dining room- a table, chairs, china cabinet, buffet, server, sideboard, etc. A table and chairs does not a dining room make.

To furnish a whole house you need sofas, arm chairs, end tables, window treatments, bookshelves, nightstands, dining furniture, dressers, beds, armoires, entry tables, etc. Fill the space the way you would any other home.

The Little Things You’ll Need in a Vacation Home

Look around your primary home for inspiration of what to put into your second home. If you like to play board games or build puzzles at home, you should have them stocked here, too. If you keep special toiletries on hand for a night of pampering, stock a supply here.

That said, any item you use on a regular basis should be the same item you stock in your second home. I see people buy cheap shampoo and body wash for their vacation that they’d never ordinarily buy. For some reason we seem to think it strange to buy our preferred products for our second home.

This isn’t summer camp. Bring the good stuff.

Other Things to Consider For Your Vacation Home

It’s a good idea to keep clothes at your vacation home. You don’t need to buy a whole second wardrobe but it makes sense to keep some basics on hand.

A robe, nightclothes, jeans, t-shirts, socks, underthings, etc. It saves room in your bag if you’re just coming for a quick trip and if you forget to pack something, you’ll have a back up ready.

And last, keep a stocked pantry. Dry and canned goods will last several years. Stock up.

Purchase small quantities if you’re worried about not using it. If this is a seasonal home, make going through the pantry part of your winterization (or summerization) process. Check expiration dates before you close the house up; if it will expire before you plan to be back, take it with you or donate it to a local charity.

A second home is a place where you and your family will make memories that last a lifetime. You should feel just as truly comfortable and at ease here as you do in your primary home. Don’t neglect the design. Good design is what will take a second house from an investment to a home you can pass down through the generations.

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