Vacation Rental Decor You’ll Love
Vacation rental decor has evolved.
Remember when you used to browse the listings and be faced with one house after another, all furnished with somebody’s cast-off recliner and mismatched sheets? Those houses are still out there, but there’s no reason for you to stay in one of them when there are so many owners using their great taste and creativity to create wonderful settings for your vacations.
Vacation Rental Decor for Everyone
We all drool over the homes in the design magazines and populate our Pinterest boards with their zillion dollar dream rooms. But is staying in an adorable or inspiring or luxurious setting just a dream for most of us? Isn’t that stunning decor by designers and for designers?
In my time as a vacation home owner, I have met so many wonderful people who have inspiring vacation rentals in the perfect places. I asked a few of them if they’d be willing to share just one of their favorite rooms with me and explain how (and why) they put the space together that way. The best part is, these are homes you can go and rent, yourself! See how these extraordinary ordinary people are bringing the style to the homes that host your trip.
Two Creek Hill – Spectacular Great Room in Stowe, Vermont
My friend David and his wife Kristyna own the most enchanting chalet in the stunning town of Stowe, Vermont. Stowe has a well-deserved reputation for stellar winter activities. However, it is truly a year-round locale, and every season is special. Whether you are a skier, hiker, biker, writer, fly fisher, eater, lounger, meditator, or you are undecided, you will find ample opportunities to indulge your passions and discover new interests in Stowe. It’s no wonder David and Kristyna chose this amazing place for their vacation home.
Like most owners, of course, they didn’t find their house in dream condition at the outset. They gave it a full makeover to meet their own ideal and also fulfill the wishes of future guests. David relates, “It had a kind of unloved ’70’s fondue palace’ feel and needed an almost complete refit. We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, beds and breakfasts, and vacation rentals (and tents, hammocks, bunkers, and floors) over the years. We tried to incorporate the aspects we’ve liked most about these different places into Two Creek Hill’s renovation and aesthetic.”
That meant saying goodbye to the 70’s and making the view the star of the show, creating a “clean and simple look that didn’t distract from the spectacular views outside floor-to-ceiling windows.” They also were careful to balance between making it their home and also making it a home for visitors. “We wanted someplace that would feel personal enough to us that it would feel like home when we stayed there, but wasn’t so unique to us that it would alienate guests,” he explains. The result is an open great room where you could literally spend the entire day, featuring kitchen, dining, and living space all in one. David characterizes the style as “clean and comfortable rustic modern” and says that “the open layout of the living and dining rooms, reading loft, and kitchen allows for easy conversation and mingling as guests cook, eat, laugh and relax…guests can socialize in the common areas or enjoy privacy in the different bedrooms and floors.”
The kitchen is open to the dining room, allowing chefs and their hungry “customers” to chat while food is being prepared. It was also important for the owners to represent a fitting rusticity, as well as modern convenience, in their design. David shares, “The renovated kitchen features hardwood floors, Vermont soapstone counter tops, open shelving made of reclaimed barn wood, and all new cabinets and appliances.”
That rustic feeling continues into the dining room. From the dining room table, which is custom-made from salvaged planks, guests can see both the pond and the woods surrounding the property, providing the perfect backdrop for memorable feasts. The open plan living room then flows from the dining room, as David jokes, “allowing for easy movement from cuisine to couch.” He adds that, “here, guests can snuggle up by the warmth of the wood stove, enjoy the view, play board games from our collection, enjoy conversation or watch a movie on the wall-mounted flat screen TV.”
There’s one final secret surprise in this great room, and it’s probably my favorite spot of all: the loft! From this spot, you can have panoramic views of the surrounding forest and Mt. Mansfield through Two Creek Hill’s floor-to-ceiling glass wall. David says that “a comfortable club chair, ottoman, and plush rug invite you to curl up with a book, a mug of something hot, and a blanket.” That’s an invitation I’m sure to accept!
David’s Advice to Aspiring Owners
I asked David what wisdom he had to share about the experience of furnishing his home. He said, “Through trial and error, we learned that it was possible to design a place that felt like it was ours (but was still neutral enough for paying guests to not feel like intruders), by paring down our décor and being ruthless in deciding to include only features that were absolutely necessary to achieve our aesthetic goals.”
Capistrano Beach Cottage – Boutique Luxury Bedroom
I had you at “beach cottage,” right?
I met Miriam on Twitter, and immediately fell in love with her dream beach cottage when I visited her website. This vacation rental dream is located in breathtaking Capistrano Beach, which is situated along the beautiful Southern California coast, halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. According to Miriam, “Capistrano Beach is part of the 5-star resort town of Dana Point, California. With its coastal bluffs and rolling hills along the Pacific Ocean, charming beaches and wild surfs, the city is a spectacular exhibit of the natural beauty of Southern California.”
It’s hard for me to choose a favorite room at Capistrano Beach Cottage, but the glamorous master is like a jewel box.
Miriam tells me that she was inspired by the luxury hotels of cities like Los Angeles and New York, but she wanted that luxury to adapt to a quaint beach cottage that would suit Capistrano Beach. I think the beautiful crystal-drop pendant chandelier sets exactly the right tone. Between the luxurious padded headboard and sleek linens and the turquoise accents, this master really captures the essence of beach-style living while complimenting the rich and classy atmosphere of Miriam’s home.
Wouldn’t you like to get the entire tour? Stop by and see photos and videos of the rest of her cottage. The decadent backyard (of which you have a tantalizing glimpse through the sliding door in the master) alone, is worth the visit…
Miriam’s Advice to Aspiring Owners
This owner suggests thinking broadly about your competitive set. In short, it may not just be other vacation homes. “Travelers may not want to feel like they are at home. Many vacation rental decor seems to be too ‘home-y’ where it feels like you’re staying at your great aunt’s or grandma’s house.” Instead, consider the getaway factor: “Think of your #1 competitor, the hotels. Personal design preferences or making a house look ‘home-y’ may not be what travelers are looking for. People stay at hotels for a reason because they are minimal, crisp, and clean.” She also places emphasis on an oft-overlooked detail: bedding. “I have seen countless vacation homes where the bedding looks dated and just plain tacky. Stick with white bedding, white sheets, and add a couple decorative colored pillows. Voila, you just made your guest room look like a hotel… Give your guests a different experience and remind them they are on vacation. This can be translated very easily through simple décor adjustments.”
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The Blue Roost – A Perfect Porch in Port Aransas, Texas
My friend Maggie and her husband have a beautiful vacation rental right near the beach in the Gulf Coast town of Port Aransas, Texas. Maggie’s description of her beloved town is as follows: “Port Aransas is a small town of about 3500 on Mustang Island, the longest barrier island off the Texas coast. Popular year round, Port Aransas attracts people for the birds, fishing, boating and the beaches.” Not surprisingly, one of the most popular events in Port Aransas is Sandfest, a sand sculpting competition held annually in April. According to Maggie, it is also a popular winter destination for many “snowbirds” seeking warmer climes for a month or two.
With the gorgeous waters of the Gulf providing the areas greatest attraction, it’s no wonder that many homes in the area have double and triple-decker porches, to let the outside in at every possible point. “Most of the year it’s nice enough to eat outside,” she explains. Maggie’s house is right in step with this great climate, and her abundance of porches makes me absolutely green with envy!
Just imagine your whole family enjoying all this amazing outdoor space. When the surroundings are this perfect, you don’t need to be fussy. Simple pleasures call for simple furnishings, and that was how Maggie thought about furnishing her little slice of deck heaven.
In fact, one of her considerations was not clogging traffic flow with too much furniture. “The deck is ever so slightly narrow and the space had to allow for a walk-through to the upstairs deck,” she explains. “A lot of thought went into exactly what kind of furniture would be best for that space. I decided on a round coffee table, a small round side table, three brightly colored chairs and a wooden bench.”
Flexibility is also a huge consideration for any savvy vacation home owner. It’s so important to imagine how families will co-exist in the space. “I love that the furniture can move
based on the needs of the guests at the house. The table can be moved to the center of the grouping to allow for a gathering around a light meal or remain between the chairs to allow for the walk through. It’s absolutely my favorite space for early morning coffee,” Maggie says.
There’s another little spot for the ultimate relaxation on this deck. Who doesn’t dream of a hammock at the beach?
I love this entire porch because it typifies the type of lazy relaxation and friendly conversation that vacations are supposed to be all about. Don’t think I’m not mulling over a way to get myself into that hammock some day soon!
Maggie’s Advice to Aspiring Owners
When I asked Maggie to offer some advice, she stressed the importance of considering how guests will relax and interact in your space. “All of my tips and decorating advice narrow down to the answer of one question: What kind of experience do you hope your guests to have at the vacation home? Imagine what kind of interactions you want to facilitate and start there. The furniture and amenities give the structure for those interactions to take place. As an owner, I’ve set the stage for a great vacation. The guests have everything they need to be comfortable. For outdoor living, we have inviting chairs on all decks that offer the opportunity for small group interaction, tables for drinks and meals, and a hammock at a secluded end of the lower deck for a chance to rest. This philosophy works everywhere in the vacation home, from the deck to the kitchen to all other rooms in the house.”
If spending some time on this porch seems appealing to you, visit
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Sadler House – A Cozy Bunkroom in Midcoast Maine
Last of all, I really wanted to share one of my own favorite rooms from our 1904 New Englander home in the coastal Maine town of Rockland. Maine has so much to offer, and the midcoast offered us the perfect mixture of activity and laid-back relaxation. As a longtime lobstering area, the entire midcoast offers everything from incredible lobster shacks to challenging, mountainous hikes. Perhaps best known for being the site of the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland is a place where you’ll find great cuisine, but also top-notch museums, shopping, and antiquing. We really can’t imagine a better place to spend our vacations and we never get bored!
When Dan and I bought our Rockland house, our goal was to keep the furnishings cozy, but bright. Too often, coastal New England homes are drowning in wood paneling and old-fashioned patterns that do not speak to modern family lifestyle. We wanted to bring light into the house on both sunny and foggy days and ensure that our guests felt cheerful and snug at the same time.
When you’re hosting families (even your own!) a bunk room is worth its weight in gold, allowing flexible and fun sleeping arrangements for families with multiple kids and adults along. We chose to dedicate the second largest of our three bedrooms to this purpose, nestling two sets of the sturdiest white bunk beds we could find right under the eaves. The original heart pine floors from 1904 were repaired and restored to beautiful new life.
In order to keep the room as bright as possible, we painted all the walls white, as well. The color we used was Valspar Homestead Resort Jefferson White. The little closet (which had long ago lost its door if it ever had one) was curtained with a bright red cotton drape.
In order to continue the bright white theme and to keep laundry simple and linens easily replaceable, we dressed the beds in all-white, except for the addition of soft red comforters at the bottom of each bed. Other than the hanging of a kid-friendly sucker dartboard, this is all we put in the room! The only exception is this quote, which I formatted and printed myself and hung near the door.
As a final concession to parents, we curtained the window with a blackout drape to make sure that princes and princesses of Maine would sleep a little later in the morning. We love this drape, as you can imagine!
If you’re interested in reading my own advice to aspiring vacation homeowners, check out my posts on choosing furnishings, decorating, and creating the perfect bunk room (with practical tips!) In general, though, my best guidance is to think how you would want to spend your own vacation in your home. What makes you cheerful? What makes your life easier? Do those things for yourself and for your guests.
What’s your ideal vacation rental decor? Leave us a comment and share your own plans!