I've spent a lot of time looking at perfect holiday homes and several years designing and dressing them so I'm hoping these 9 pointers will help you avoid the main traps and leapfrog into success
1) Decide on one style. Yes just the one....
Carry this style throughout the house - this may need a strong dose of discipline not to be swayed by other things you like in a different style...the challenge of sticking to one style can be harder than it sounds...
Imagine your customer flicking through pictures on line to choose their holiday house, they will be making a quick decision before swiping right or left to find that perfect holiday home date. You need to clearly show what style your holiday home is offering. Chopping and changing styles within the house is confusing. Your job is to create a simple cohesive offer. So of course you can give it a name if you like - electric farmhouse, maximalist pattern loving party house, Scandinavian minimalism, whatever works for you. I sometimes do this for projects just to keep everyone on the right style track. Naming a project can help you make decisions...will this giraffe kettle fit into my Skandi chic monastic retreat? No....If you find one let me know.
The trick is to choose your style and stick to it and take it across the whole holiday home and ideally the outside area if possible. Remember your customer is buying an experience so it needs to make sense what that experience is
Inspiration image is the Oyster Catcher Holiday Home in Mousehole.
2) Collect case studies and inspiration images
Once you've identified your style, case studies and inspiration are really helpful to analyse the features of a really successful interior and to keep the ambition of the project high.
You can start with the case studies if you're struggling to hone your style as it may work the other way round for you.
I recommend looking at hotels for inspiration for holiday homes, they have amazing designers and have honed solutions to dealing with design challenges - for example tiny rooms or small ensuite etc, I love studying the way hotels make beds look really luxurious and inviting.
I personally cannot get enough of Soho House a hotel chain and general all round Interiors powerhouse as an inspiration source, here's one of their rooms....packed full of luxury, personality, taste and fabulous lighting.
Image from Soho Farmhouse.
Pinterest is great for honing details too and if you like making Pinterest boards go for your life, I love using Pinterest to look at everything from headboards to lighting to banquette seating - whatever design feature you want or problem you need to solve someone will have found a million ways to approach it. You can see some of my Pinterest boards that might be useful for holiday homes here:
Later on when you are in the busy decision making process and you find yourself encountering problems in the renovations or difficultly making decisions come back to your clearly identified style (number 1 above) and revisit all your inspiration images to help you stay on track.
3) Do your research and check out the competition.
Find a great example of the look you like in a similar Holiday Home and go and stay there. This will enable you to test out the whole experience, from the parking, to the comfiness of the beds to the dreaded recycling bin instructions. It will give you loads of great ideas, show you what to avoid and help you to hone your price point. Being realistic about what your competitors are offering for a given price point will always give you a good basis to succeed.
Farm Ty Fforest near Cardigan. A brilliant inspirational place to stay.
4) A holiday home should be relaxing
This seems obvious but when you look at some holiday homes they just don't look relaxing, some look cold or busy , some look like they're trying too hard, or just aren't that inviting...
One key to keeping a space relaxing is to keep a cohesive palette running throughout . I would always choose a colour and a materials palette for a holiday home so a few colours and main materials that are basically replicated throughout, when done well this can achieve a layered, sophisticated look. A defined colour and material palette should keep the house feeling tied together and calming as each room runs from each one in a way which is familiar and reassuring, like a big hug. So if you look at the bedrooms from the Oyster Catcher (first image above) on my Pinterest you won't be surprised, and that's the point, it should be reassuring, so in this case it's more whites, off whites, greys, painted wooden boards and so on.
Some features that say 'relaxing' to me are big baths, real fires, comfy seating, hammocks and books so it's worth thinking about these kind of things throughout you scheme. The first image I've used screams 'relaxing' in a non screaming way, look at that lit fire, those squidgy sofas, one layered palette, the pared back materials, non personal ornaments...Again the Soho House image does the same - comfy chairs in velvet, huge bathtub, whiter than white sheets...
Another relaxation based trend that people are searching for is hot tubs and I love the trend for these super cool soaking tubs...with no chemicals needed....
Unknown image from Pinterest.
I would keep the 'stuff' in a holiday home to a minimum, you want to get a balance between 'homely' enough to relax in but not too personal so it doesn't feel like someone else will walk in (read definitely not crammed full of personal items). If you want to keep personal items for when you use the holiday home I would build in some lockable private storage.
5) Identify your customer
When I watched the excellent Interior Design Masters on TV I loved the latest winner Banjo Beales and the hilarious characters he came up, some inspired the interiors and some were the potential customers. I'd encourage you to think about your customer, who are they and what do they want? Why are they booking a holiday home and what questions are they asking themselves? Of course it's stereotyping but it's useful to consider their expectations and their ambitions, what do they want? Is your customer a retired couple that love walking and want to eat out in your local town so will want a minimal kitchen but a super comfy bed and a bath to soak tired limbs in or are they a large family that will want an ample dishwasher and lots of space for kids to sprawl out in?
Here's Cameron Diaz incase she's your ideal customer in her holiday home from The Holiday
6) Consider the practicalities of creating a safe, accessible holiday home for people and maybe even their pets....
Your home needs to be safe for your customers, so all the soft furnishings need to be to higher fire retardant standards than you might consider in your own home. You may like to consider a variety of accessibility needs for different people with additional needs, older relatives and parents with babies and toddlers and whether you want to welcome in peoples' dogs too.
A doggy shower is something that clients are now increasingly specifying from me when I design holiday homes...I mean look at this pampered pooch....
Image from Haven Design
7) "Buy once, buy well" This is a particularly useful mantra when thinking about buying furniture and furnishings for a holiday home.....You need to always weigh up the cost of replacing something numerous times over the years against the initial investment of a more expensive purchase which will last longer.
You may also want to think about sourcing sustainably too as this will be on many of your customers wish lists.
Damages are inevitable but again you need to be weighing the costs of more resilient furniture and materials against the cost of repairing and replacing. This can be a hard balance and can be considered when you are setting out your initial look. Some 'looks' can take a bit more wear and tear and some just won't stand for it.
Image of a Claremont, a Holiday Home styled by Mairead Turner. Photo by Kristina Banholzer.
8) Decide how much your holiday home is a business and how much is it for you, your family or for personal pleasure?
Often holiday home owners have considerable attachment to their holiday homes and rightly so. It may be the owners' long held dream of where they'll retire to, the owner may have inherited the house and have a lot of happy memories of childhoods spent there and a strong sentimental attachment to the house, and this can include the layout, the furniture, the style and the decor.
Ask yourself honestly is this a dream for you, your family and your personal taste or is this a business for a better financial future and income. Do you want to make commercial decisions based on financial forecasts? I think holiday home interiors can become compromised as long held dreams or sentiment comes into the mix.
If you are depending on the money that your holiday home needs to bring in and you want it to be rented out a lot and see it primarily as a business then you need to put the needs of the customer first. It's highly likely they will have different needs, tastes and wants from you.
If you have found the honest answer to the question above - how much is your holiday home a business and how much is it personal ? I will allow you to move onto the next point...proceed with caution....you may not like it......
Detail of a bedroom at The Celtic Royal Hotel. Designed by Mairead Turner. Photograph by Kristina Banholzer.
9) You may not be the best person to choose the interiors....but you knew I was going to finish on this....
If all your friends know you for your style and love your home, if your holiday home is predominantly for your own use or if you don't mind how much income you generate from your holiday home then I would say go with the style that you love and if you like choosing interiors you could be the best person.
But if these aren't true it may be a safer bet to get a return on your investment by paying a professional to do the Interior Design. They should talk to the agent, do research about your potential customer and create a very 'sellable' product for you that has wide appeal or a strong identified niche appeal. Ideally they will also deliver this on time and on budget too. But I would say that wouldn't I?
If you want to read reasons why it can be useful to use an Interior Designer read here.
I love a beautifully designed Holiday Home - they are an ideal of a domestic space, an embodiment of those special times when we can relax with our loved ones - and without all the stuff we accumulate!
I hope this has been a useful read and good luck if you are lucky enough to be creating your very own holiday home.