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Designing Your Next Home for Hosting Summer Guests

Best Vacation Home Interiors -Designing Your Next Home for Hosting Summer Guests

Photo by Andrew Ingalls

Vacation home interiors should provide fashion and function at the same time.

Second homes are as much an investment in creating great multigenerational family vacations as they are in real estate. In both cases, you truly get back what you put into them. As her home base in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is filled with examples of the right and wrong ways to outfit one’s second home, interior designer Jess Cooney advises second home owners on how to build right.

Vacation home interior - Kitchen

Photo by Lisa Vollmer

“The first consideration in the initial design stage is planning for multiple generations, as most of my clients have children or grandchildren who will come to stay,” she says. “While one couple will use the house the majority of the time, they will need several bedrooms and larger dining areas for when extended family and friends visit. The second is factoring in durable materials so kids, dogs and other guests don’t need to worry about things being too delicate or getting broken. The third is designing for hobbies and activities. Will the owners use the home in the summers for swimming and hiking? Will they (use it during) ski season…or both? We design elements for this so everything has its place.”

“The first consideration in the initial design stage is planning for multiple generations."

Elegant Summer Home Interiors

Photo by Andrew Ingalls

According to Cooney, a common mistake some clients make is looking at each piece of the room individually instead of looking at the whole concept. She advises they avoid overdoing a room by choosing what aspects or pieces should be the focal point, and what will fade into the background. This results in a look that is balanced rather than overly cluttered, especially if clients allow themselves to trust their designers to see the overall picture of how it will be layered and completed in the end with pillows, artwork, and other accessories.

Four Season Porch Table and Chairs home design

Photo by Andrew Ingalls

Cooney adds there are decor trends practically tailor made for the lifestyle occupants will assume when they set foot in the second home:

  • Indoor-outdoor fabrics for different kinds of seating, as well as wool in natural, timeless hues for rugs that can withstand a lot of high traffic. Fade and stain resistance is especially appealing to the clients who may want to rent their home or allow a friend to use it for a weekend.
  • Use of natural materials for the home’s exterior. “Stone and natural wood shingles will never go out of style,” Cooney stresses. “A beautiful front door will always be timeless.
  • As most people who may rent or borrow your home will want privacy, screening in the yard with plantings provides a solution that is environmentally friendly and visually pleasing.
  • A well-designed basement hang-out space with a large sectional for sleeping as well as watching TV. It is a great option for overflow of guests when the house fills up on weekends and holidays.
Chilewich mats and heated porcelain tiles

Photo by Lisa Vollmer

“We love to put in Chilewich mats in heavy traffic kitchens and mudrooms,” she continues. “Even with snow and mud, they’ll always look great after you have taken them outside and shaken them. We also like wooden shiplap rather than sheetrock, as wood will hold up so much longer through wear-and-tear. If it’s painted in an oil-based paint, it really can take a beating from kids and pets.

Large-scale porcelain tiles with radiant heat, meanwhile, work well for cleaning the space with fewer grout lines and in our area, they are great for drying the mud and snow that come in on your feet thanks to the fact radiant heat dries it right up. Additionally, built-in storage is another advantage with mudrooms giving occupants a place for everything and every season.”

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