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Vacation Home vs. Primary Home

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Vacation homes are typically used for short periods of time and not for months on end. This means that the way the home is used is a bit different from primary residences. I have three vacation rentals and most of my client projects are for vacation homes. So I have a good overview of how the needs are a bit different.

The most significant difference is in the number of people gathering. Vacation homes tend to pack more people in on a regular basis with many overnight guests. Meals tend to be more casual and relaxed, and there is usually recreation and or seasonal equipment that needs planning for.

What I have found is that kitchens don't need an abundance of cabinet space for food storage. A pantry, or a couple of cabinets can be dedicated to food. What I've seen is that when people gather there are a lot of coolers becuase usually guests are traveling and bringing their favorite beverages and foods. Having a space for coolers to reside is important. They might be used for overflow storage of cold beverages, and fresh foods.

When people vacation together they gather together in the kitchen and living spaces. However, they want creature comforts in their guestrooms so that they have all of their stuff and electronics for easy access.

Here are my tips for planning your vacation home or rental:

  • Have electrical outlets available for easy access to charge personal electronics. If you are short on outlets, add power-strips or multi-plug units to an outlet. This will hopefully keep all of the electronics off of the kitchen counters.

  • Place hooks in as many places as possible. Make it easy for guests to hang bags, jackets, clothes, and towels. Have several hooks in bathrooms, bedrooms, and entryways so that items can be somewhat organized.

  • Use the space over a non built-in refrigerator for bulky food such as chip bags and cereal boxes. If you have a cabinet over the refrigerator that is set back from the front of the refrigerator, remove the doors so that it is easier to access and the stuff in front of the doors won't need to be moved to open the doors.

  • Forget color coordinating towels for bathroom color schemes. Use only white bath towels. I can say with 100% certainty that white bath towels will simplify laundry.

  • Keep bedding simple and consider white only sheets.

  • Create dining spaces within the kitchen so that it is casual and allows for socializing during meal prep.

  • Provide some open space within the kitchen area for coolers as guests may bring coolers with their favorite beverages or foods.

  • Furnish luggage racks in guestrooms.

  • People want TVs, equip guestrooms with TVs. Smart TVs are now preferred so that people can enjoy their favorites from their Smart Phones.

  • When family gathers, they like to be together, but they also want some privacy and down time, so make their guestrooms welcoming.

Julie Fergus, ASID has been designing home for over twenty years. She owns and operates three vacation rentals and has been in the vacation rental industry for ten years and understands how people use vacation homes and rentals. Visit her vacation rental website.

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