How to design your vacation home. Top tips from our friends at @Vifabella

Before shipping containers of furniture and breaking the bank buying new appliances for your fabulous, newly purchased, overseas home. Take some time to consider exactly how you want to use the property. The designers at Vifabella have kindly shared some of their tips with us in the following guest blog to help you get the most from your holiday home. 

Vifabella top tips.....

Take the time to consider how you are going to design your new vacation home, or your new home in a new country. Do not fall into the trap of replicating the house you just left or simply transferring all the same furniture. While the comforts of home are a good thing, designing your vacation home exactly as your main home is not a great idea and not the most practical either. The different environment means that the assumptions for what you need in one are not the same as the other – this goes for flow, storage, colours, materials, and furniture.

How you do this will greatly vary, but I thought I would give you some questions to think about and how this played out when we designed our home in the sunny Algarve in Portugal.

Things to consider when designing your vacation home:

  1. What was the purpose of buying the home? How can you finish the place to maximize this? You bought your vacation home for a reason – perhaps as a retreat, a place for extended family to gather or to be close to a particular leisure activity, like the beach, golf, or skiing.
  2. How will you use the place that is different from your home? Think through some of the major activities. Consider places to easily access and store sports equipment or the number of bathrooms so that it is easy to go on group excursions.  
  3. Consider the seasons, and if you are using the home year-round.
  4. Are you renting the home when you are not using it? If so consider robust furniture and décor. See the post: Rental Furniture Design Tips
  5. Design elements, such as outdoors, surfaces, and furniture, that are easy maintenance.
  6. Include appliances that make your life easier and reduce the extraneous time spent on non-holiday activities
  7. Consider the things that make the locale unique and try to incorporate them.

Our case study:

When we designed and built Villa Divenire – we wanted to reflect the indoor-outdoor lifestyle and enjoyment of the sun that we did not get as much of back home. Villa Divenire, which means ‘to become' in Italian, was about creating a retreat and a place to socialize with friends and family. We personally saw 8 people as being the perfect number to host in the villa and designed 4 well-proportioned rooms with 2 master rooms – all with big comfy beds. At our stage, lots of small children were not in our lives so we did not need bunk rooms, or play areas.

We envisioned spending time with the 8 people we would be on holiday with. The indoor and outdoor dining spaces were furnished to allow all 8 of us to sit at the same time, 8 sun loungers, and the open concept main floor ensured that whoever was cooking was still part of the action in the living room.

Any villa with a pool or indoor/outdoor lifestyle means that you travel inside and outdoors frequently. We knew that we could not have wood or carpet that would damage easily or cause us great headaches trying to keep. With floor tile we did not need to worry about sand or water from the pool.

The sun and climate in the Algarve was always better than our home, so it was realistic to want to come all year-round. To ensure the “winter” would not bring regret towards tile choice, we put in heated flooring. On our real estate hunting, we noticed many homes were intended for summer use and not winterized very well. Shivery and relaxing did not go together for us! We thought through double glazed windows and put in Air Conditioning units that could reverse to heat.  

Buying larger robust appliances meant that we could have more pots on the stove, more things cool in the fridge (less grocery store trips), more dishes in the dishwasher, and fewer loads of laundry to do!

The view was something we knew we wanted to focus on, and this included the sunrise in the morning over the ocean.  This sunrise inspired the villa name and ensured we placed the bed facing what became a morning wake up ritual. It is easy to start the day when nature shows you all that is waiting!

The garden was planted with hardy, low maintenance tropical plants, and an irrigation system…and while you may laugh, we have come to champion the high-end faux grass we put in. Faux grass has come a long way and now can contain multiple layers that are very plausible – in fact many of our guests did not even realize it until we pointed it out. Not only does it save water, the lack of maintenance is heavenly.

Incorporating the locale was important to us because if it was identical in look and feel to our main home then we would only be reminded and encumbered by the pressures and duties we had left behind. The Algarve in Portugal has a beautiful local stone and warm earth colours. To maximize our sense of living both indoors and outdoors we brought the warm earth colours indoors with the tile, paint colours and decor.

We hope these tips help you think through the design of your vacation home! Ffor more advice please visit:-