Designing a second home or vacation home?
Whatever you plan on using your new home for, second homes and vacation getaways should be designed to help you and your family relax and unwind. And that means designing the space with all your specific wants and needs in mind.
To make this process as easy as possible for you, we’re sharing some vacation home design ideas you’ll absolutely regret not including in your new home upgrades.
How to Approach Your Second Home Design or Vacation Home Design
You’re already a homeowner, so you’ve likely designed or upgraded a home before. Is designing a second home any different?
It turns out that it is.
Designers agree that second homes are opportunities for homeowners to be more creative in their design choices and better express their unique aesthetic. They’re also opportunities to include anything that you’ve wished your first home had over the years.
Essentially, second homes and vacation homes aren’t about meeting needs, covering the bases, or playing it safe. They’re about maximizing convenience and comfort, making an impression and going big.
Second Home Design and Vacation Home Design Trends
When it comes to modern second and vacation home designs, we see homeowners focus on four main factors:
- Entertaining: Maybe you’re building a second home to have more space to host multigenerational family get-togethers, or perhaps you’re planning on inviting friends to stay with you every summer at your vacation home. Either way, you should equip these spaces with the room and conveniences necessary to regularly host large groups of people.
- Outdoor living: A better understanding of how nature benefits our well-being, combined with forced time at home during the pandemic, has made outdoor living space more valuable than ever before. Outdoor living spaces are also perfect for entertaining and can make outdoor gatherings feasible year-round.
- Luxury: As we noted earlier, second homes and vacation homes aren’t for playing it safe. Focus on luxury in your new home with upgrades that your existing home lacks (we have some ideas below), as well as higher-quality appliances and materials. For example, many people include ceramic or porcelain tile in their new homes because of its luxurious design options, durability and low-maintenance care.
- Sustainability: Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important focus for any new construction. This involves choosing practices and materials that minimize your impact on the environment and designing for longevity. Materials that last longer, such as ceramic tile, reduce the frequency of home upgrades you need to make — thus lessening your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. A bonus of longer-lasting materials is an overall reduced cost of having a second home or vacation home, including less annual costs for maintenance.
[Related: Using Inexpensive Materials to Create a Rich Look]
New Home Upgrades to Include in Your Second or Vacation Home
Now, let’s take a look at specific new home upgrades to include in your vacation home design.
Double Kitchen Appliances
Do you struggle to time the elaborate dinners you host with just one oven? Or maybe you need an extra sink for guests to wash their hands while you wash the vegetables or dishes.
Whatever your specific needs, second home and vacation home kitchen designs benefit from certain “extras” to make entertaining that much easier. We recommend the following:
- A second oven so you can cook multiple dishes at once
- A second sink (sometimes called a “prep sink”) so that a sink is always available for guests or additional food prep
- A beverage fridge so guests can grab a drink whenever they want
- An additional freezer (often placed in the garage or basement) to store bulk foods and free up space in your kitchen freezer
Kitchen Island or Bar Seating
It’s common knowledge that everyone gravitates toward the kitchen during a party. So, incorporating additional seating is a must if you plan on hosting even occasional gatherings in your new home.
Enter a kitchen island or bar.
Kitchen island and bar seating is ideal because it’s functional and informal. Guests can feel free to come and go as they please, without the formalities associated with dining tables.
We recommend incorporating the following when designing your kitchen island or bar:
- Gauged porcelain tile slab/panel countertops (we love the new marble- or gemstone-look tile)
- Coordinated backsplash and floor tile
- Sleek integrated appliances, such as a digital cooktop integrated into your porcelain slab countertop
- A prep sink
Gauged Porcelain Tile
We are fans of gauged porcelain tile for easycare and beautiful kitchen countertops and you can also use gauged porcelain panels/slabs in multiple other ways to add luxury to your home. Specifically, gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs can create striking feature walls.
Gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs come in sizes up to 10 by 15 feet. As a result, they reduce the need for grout lines and can effectively create the look of wallpaper or huge, natural gemstone slabs.
What’s more luxurious than the look of elaborate gilded wallpaper or rare, massive gemstones such as agate or onyx? Feature walls with either of these looks will awe your guests.
And equally important, you won’t have to worry about the maintenance concerns of wallpaper or the cost and sustainability issues of sourcing natural stones.
[Related: Five Places You’ll Secretly Find Porcelain Tile]
Indoor-outdoor spaces extend your living and entertaining space outdoors. As such, your family and your guests can seamlessly move from inside to outside — an especially helpful upgrade for entertaining or simply if you desire to enjoy your outdoor environment as much as your indoor environment.
Think about which spaces in your new home would benefit most from an indoor-outdoor transition. This will depend on which spaces you use most, as well as the layout of your home and property.
People tend to create indoor-outdoor transitions in their living rooms, kitchens or dining areas. (And we’ve also seen some pretty amazing indoor-outdoor bathrooms.)
When designing your indoor-outdoor space, we recommend choosing a single flooring material for both the indoor space and the outdoor space to create a seamless look. Choose an option that’s durable enough to work both indoors and out, such as ceramic tile.
Ceramic tile is resistant to water, scratches, stains and bacteria growth — we could go on, but the point is that it’s the perfect low-maintenance material to use just about anywhere.
[Related: Indoor-Outdoor Tile: Your Complete Guide]
Pool and/or Hot Tub
What’s a vacation home without a pool? And even if you consider your new home a second home and don’t live in a warm region, a hot tub could be the perfect addition.
Of course, you needn’t stop at installing only a pool or hot tub. Make your pool or hot tub area even more impressive by installing a few extras:
- Disappearing edge, so that the water is level with the ground
- Unique ceramic tile design both inside and around your pool/hot tub
- Waterfall or fountain
- Swim-up bar
Ceramic tile is perfect for pool areas because of its water, bacteria, and fade resistance, as well as beautiful slip-resistant options for surrounding areas. And did we mention that it comes in practically unlimited design choices?
You might not have considered this upgrade before but if your home is located near outdoor features (think beach combing or hiking), you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Outdoor showers are the perfect addition if you have a pool and want to be able to rinse off before or after taking a dip. Especially if you plan on having guests stay overnight or hosting pool parties, outdoor showers can help free up indoor bathrooms. For coastal and mountain retreats, an outdoor shower is handy for washing off sandy feet and muddy boots to prevent dirt from being tracked inside.
Anyone can fire up the barbecue for a summer party, but imagine having an entire outdoor kitchen at your disposal.
There’d be no need to carry utensils and ingredients back and forth to prep, cook, and serve your grilled goodies. And it would also provide a space for your family and guests to gather and enjoy one another’s company as you cook.
Just as with indoor kitchens, ceramic tile is a great choice because of its low maintenance and all-around exceptional durability.
Designing a beautiful outdoor space for your second home or vacation home may not feel worthwhile if it’s not somewhere with temperate weather year-round. Fortunately, an outdoor fireplace can help create an inviting outdoor space even when the weather turns chilly.
Outdoor fireplaces can also add to your outdoor space’s overall design with attractive tile fireplace surrounds. Choose a natural look that’s right at home with your landscaping, a bold pattern that steals the show, or something in between.
Ceramic Tile Makes for Beautiful Second and Vacation Home Designs
You’ve probably noticed that ceramic tile is integral to many of the vacation home designs that homeowners love. That’s because tile hits on all four vacation home design priorities.
Ceramic tile is low-maintenance and durable (think resistance to water, scratches, stains, fading, and bacteria), making it the perfect choice for entertaining and outdoor spaces. It also comes in numerous styles — including an array of shapes, natural looks, unique patterns, and even textures and 3D surfaces — to enable one-of-a-kind designs.
Additionally, ceramic tile provides a number of sustainability benefits, including a long life cycle, the use of regional raw materials, and energy efficiency. In fact, ceramic tile has the lowest global warming potential and fossil fuel resource depletion of all flooring types.
So, when it comes to designing your second home or vacation home, ceramic tile is your ultimate design advantage.
Ready to get started? Find even more vacation home design ideas in our Design Gallery and download our Tile Buying Guide for tile shopping tips.