Whether it’s for a quiet interlude, a family gathering spot or a rental property, a vacation home offers a chance to create something daringly different from our primary residence.
“The house spoke to me in so many ways. It just seemed like serendipity.”
That’s Diana Saklad, talking about the vacation home she and her husband, Dan, own on Bald Head Island. Longtime visitors to the island, the Saklads found the perfect spot to make their own last spring and have since visited at least once a month, despite their packed schedules as owners of Whisk, Cary’s kitchen retailer.
The Saklads describe wooden shiplap paneling, exposed ceiling beams, a spiral staircase and a kitchen that really drew them in.
“It literally feels like the cabin of a ship,” Diana said, and a sharp departure from their all-brick traditional suburban home in Cary.
“I did not want a house that had the same feel and character as our Cary house,” she said. “This one is very different. It very much has a beachy … kind of feel.”
Designer Eddie Rider echoes the Saklads’ desire for something distinctive in a secondary home. Based in Raleigh, he specializes in turnkey design from conception through materials selection and furnishing, and has completed many coastal residences up and down the East Coast.
“I try to push people to do something a little bit differently on a vacation home than they would have on a primary residence,” Rider said. “It might be a different visual look or a powerful color palette, since you aren’t going to see that space all the time.”
Be bold with color
“People are apt to be more bold with color (at vacation homes),” said Cary-based designer Paige Dick. “When most people think of a beach house they think bright, happy colors, but they might be afraid to do that in their own home.”
Dick recently collaborated with Cary resident Kim Hall on a vacation property in the Florida Keys. The home, co-owned by Hall’s extended family, is a rental property and also serves as a gathering spot for vacations together.
Dick helped Hall settle on a feel that was “coastal, but not overwhelming. We wanted it to feel beachy without being overdone,” she said.
“We wanted it to have a cooler vibe and a more laid-back atmosphere,” Hall said, admitting that much of the vacation home’s decor wouldn’t fit in her Cary home — such as the octopus shower curtain.
“And we wanted to equip it really well,” she said, citing a fully-functional kitchen, cozy linens, and paddleboards and kayaks available for renters’ use. “We wanted a place that people want to come to and want to come back to.”
Choose durable materials
Whether working on a private residence or a rental property, both designers emphasize the importance of careful material selections in a vacation home.
Vacation properties “are a little more casual and more rugged. They can take abuse,” said Rider. “When (the owners are) in their vacation home they want to relax or entertain; they don’t want to spend their time cleaning. And you want people to feel comfortable, so you want materials you can put your feet up on or can spill something on.”
Situated in a fishing community, Hall’s Florida home required special attention to factor in sun exposure, fishing gear and the wear and tear of renters. “We wanted (furnishings) and fabrics that would be very durable,” Dick explained. “It was worth putting a little more money into the furniture to make sure it would last.”
Vacation homes can be a fun chance to play with a theme, Dick says, like the Saklads’ nautical cabin or a woodsy mountain lodge.
“It creates conversation,” she said, “and makes guests experience a different feeling than they normally have at home.”
To craft your ideal vacation home, Dan Saklad notes that it’s important to define your goals.
“Do you want to rent it out, or do you want a complete sanctuary for family and friends? Those are two very different approaches,” he said.
“Our house is built around activity,” Dan said. “We wanted places for paddleboards and bikes, for the Kamado grill and hammocks, because it’s a place that people can come, hang out and just go have fun.”
“Another feature that really drew us was the marsh view. The view at any time of day is gorgeous. But we are walking distance to the harbor and all that has to offer,” added Diana.
Also consider where you are building, Rider said.
“In the mountains you’ll need storage for skis … and a drop station for jackets, snowsuits and dirty boots. At the beach, are you going to be washing 10 towels a day? You may want bigger appliances or even a pair.
“I always encourage clients who are building outside of the primary area they live in to talk to a couple of local contractors,” Rider advised. “(Contractors) live there and they understand the lifestyle. Making changes after construction has begun is difficult and expensive. Contractors know what has worked for them in the past.”
If your property is geared for family vacations, involve everyone in the design process, Dick suggests.
“Find something fun and create a ‘wow’ factor. Make every room unique — this is your opportunity to be bold and mix color and pattern,” she said.
“With design, you can create a style of home that gives you a certain flavor,” Rider said. “As soon as you pull up you want to feel something. You want to be excited and carry that feel throughout the home.”