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What to Look for in your Dream Vacation Home

Whether you’re on the hunt for a cozy lakeside cabin in Tahoe, a beachy home on the Nantucket shores, or a luxury villa to enjoy the finest Pinot in Sonoma County, your vacation home should be a comfortable reprieve that supports all your adventures.

But before making the big decision to purchase your second home, what should you look for? Here are 4 essential questions to ask yourself before signing…

What is Your Ideal Location?

When selecting a location, consider when you will typically live in your vacation home and how that can impact your experience. For example, you may fall in love with a condo on the beach in Cabo. But a month of noisy spring breakers might not be the peaceful experience you’re looking for.

Think about the local attractions as well. Do you prefer a hip downtown condo within walking distance of bars and restaurants? Or maybe a secluded town and majestic view of nature is more your speed. Regardless, location is one of the only things that renovating your home can’t achieve. Choose wisely.

How Will You Use the Home?

Once you have a location or two identified, think about how you hope to use the home. Need a place to host parties? You’ll want a great indoor-outdoor space with a large kitchen and beverage bar. Looking for more of a quiet escape? A home with a smaller kitchen and larger living spaces would be just fine.

Make a list of your desired uses for the home, and then move on to the next question…

Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

What are Your Must-Have Amenities?

Your must-have amenities will probably align with your desired use cases, but there may be differences too. (You deserve to spoil yourself, right?) Here are some of the most common amenities we see requested in vacation homes:

Easy Indoor to Outdoor Flow. Whether it’s walking in from a dip in the pool or seeking the warmth of hot cocoa after a day on the slopes, you’ll need a seamless transition from outdoor to indoors. We suggest a deck that’s level with your living or family room instead of one with lots of stairs to climb. 

Bunk beds. Maximizing space and keeping the kiddos entertained? Sign me up. There’s a reason why bunk beds are popular in vacation homes. And believe it or not, they’re no longer just for kids anymore. Guests of all ages can enjoy them. We have designed a few gorgeous custom built-in bunks for adults, incorporating features like sconces, shelving, and USB outlets.

Durable and Safe Flooring: The floors of a vacation home usually see a lot of traffic, especially with kids or pets running in and out. We suggest engineered hardwood or vinyl flooring for maximum durability and safety. If your home has a pool, beach, or snowy slopes nearby, you’ll want to avoid glossy-textured tile floors. These tend to become incredibly slippery and dangerous when wet.

Storage: Consider storage solutions for your everyday, on-the-go items, like sunscreen or blankets, and for the items you intend to store only at this location, such as seasonal clothes.

Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Are You Open to Renovating?

Now that you know how you’ll use the home and which amenities are on your must-haves list, it’s time to ask yourself the big question: Am I looking for a move-in ready home, or am I open to renovating to get what I want?

If the Answer is Yes…

Designing a personalized space to fit your family’s vacation style can be a great option. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

First, you’ll need to get permits for any structural work, especially for things like expanding square footage, adding electrical or plumbing, and the addition of a guest suite. Permits are known for adding time, money, and bureaucracy to a project. Not necessarily deal-breakers, but it’s good to set the expectations in advance.

Second, a renovation that includes major updates (like the ones listed above) are also likely to result in a year-long process that significantly extends your timeline and investment. If you’re looking to move in right away, a renovation probably isn’t the best way to go. If you’re okay with the wait, then go for it.

If you do decide to renovate, you don’t have to manage this process alone. We can guide you through this process from start to finish, giving you a clear understanding of progress and updates. Learn more here.

If the Answer is No…

If the time constraints of a renovation don’t fit your plan, look for a turnkey home that will allow you to enjoy your best life ASAP. In addition to your must-haves, here’s what we suggest searching for when house hunting:

  • High-end finishes like natural stone or quartz countertops
  • Non-trendy tiling
  • Optimal indoor-outdoor living
  • An overall functional layout
  • A desirable exterior

You may find a turnkey home with some luxury finishes that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. That’s okay, too. Changing the home’s exterior or layout can be costly and intrusive, but it’s relatively easy (i.e., no permits required) to swap interior paint colors, plumbing fixtures, and appliances.

Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

And that’s it! Follow this recipe, and I’m confident you will discover the home you’re looking for. No regrets. No surprises. Just a straight path to that ideal vacation home. 

Need help along the way? We’re here to help you design or furnish your vacation home with our Online Design Service. We’ll provide everything you need to create a highly functional and personalized space. From floor plans, mood boards, furnishing selections, and shopping links…we’ve got you covered.

The sooner you set up your discovery call, the sooner you can start enjoying your beautifully personalized vacation home. We can’t wait to meet you.




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