Decorating a Vacation Home

Decorating a Vacation Home

Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.

You know that relaxed, recharged, rebalanced feeling you get from spending a week (or two) at a resort? That’s how you should feel in your vacation home. And because it’s a place to escape everyday life, the décor should look somewhat different from your primary residence.

But you don’t have to go to décor extremes—it’s all about striking a balance between fun and functional. Here’s how to decorate your vacation home for maximum enjoyment.


Do you decorate a vacation home differently than a primary residence?

Yes and no. People tend to want to have more fun with the décor than at their primary home. I think it’s a mentality thing—you’re there to enjoy yourself, so you’re more open to whimsical stuff, like brighter colors or bold wallpaper. But in general, we tend to use the same level of quality that we do in a primary residence. The difference is more in terms of usage, and that affects what type of materials we incorporate.


How so?

For example, in a beach house, we’d use more waterproof material, so kids can sit anywhere when they come in wet from the beach. Or we’ll use Sunbrella fabric on a sectional sofa versus velvet. It’s not necessarily about cost, but it will hold up better for how you use it. Ideally, your vacation home should be timeless so you don’t have to repeatedly renovate it.


What materials do you tend to use?

In general, people want low-maintenance, durable materials that they won’t have to worry about. For countertops, we’ll go for granite, marble, or quartzite which are more forgiving in terms of upkeep. We like to use bronze cabinetry hardware because it weathers well in most climates. Wool floor covering can withstand a lot of wear and tear.


Does location affect the décor?

It dictates the textiles we use. If you’re there in the winter, you’ll want to be warm and cozy, so we’ll incorporate a lot of wool rugs and carpets, heavier drapes, and layers of bedding. If it’s a warmer climate, we’ll go for jute or sisal rugs and light, sheer drapery. Linen is always a great choice for bedding year-round because it adjusts to your body temperature. In general, you want anything that will retain heat in colder climates, like wool or hardwood, and anything cooling, like stone, tile, and airy, natural fibers in warmer climates.


How is furnishing a vacation house different?

Since so many people entertain and host a lot of guests in their vacation home, we tend to do a lot of custom and built-in furniture that can accommodate a lot of people. Sectional sofas are a big request, and we always make sure we have a ton of seating, especially in the great room. We frequently create multiple eating areas with a huge dining table, an island with barstools or swivel chairs, and often that flows into an outdoor dining area too. Kitchens and entertaining areas tend to be the main focus.


Other than ample seating, how do you approach the kitchen?

It depends on whether or not you like to cook on vacation—if you’re mostly dining out, you don’t need to go high-end on all of your appliances and fixtures. If you are cooking or have a chef, then it’s worth investing in nice appliances, especially a cool range that you might not go for in your primary home. Whether or not you cook, drinks are always a priority—we do a lot of bars, wine fridges, beer drawers, and keg taps.


What about bedrooms?

Again, customization is key, especially in kids’ rooms. People will often have several rooms with bunk beds for the kids, and we’ll create complete custom walls with hidden trundles and storage. There’s a lot of “how many people can we get into this house?” so you need places for all their stuff. Storage is a big priority.


Why is that?

When you have guests, it’s very welcoming for them to be able to unpack—it’s not like a hotel with a luggage stand and a tiny closet rod. And when it’s your house, you want to be able to leave a lot of clothes and other necessities there so you can just show up without having to pack a bag. That’s the ultimate luxury.


Decorate your vacation home once with durable, well-made materials, so you don’t have to do it again. 

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