Header background

Design Tips for Vacation Home Rentals

The key to attracting renters to your vacation property is to balance comfort and style, designing a retreat that people dream about living in.

Design Tips for Vacation Home Rentals

The vacation rental market has exploded in recent years.  After the economic downturn in 2008, many owners decided to rent their properties rather than sell.  Around the same time, Airbnb was established, and they now boast over two million listings worldwide!  With so many vacation home rentals entering the market, owners must design properties that stand out from the rest.

Unfortunately, many owners either don’t invest in interior design or create spaces that they would like (but may not appeal to others).  The key to attracting renters to your vacation home is to balance comfort and style.  As interior designer Mercedes Brennan argues:

“People do not want a home away from home on vacation.  Absolutely not.  What they want instead is the home they wished they had away from home.”  

In order to rise above the competition, you must provide the kind of vacation retreat that people dream about living in.  After all, vacations are precious and people want to feel pampered.

Here are the Coastal Cottage Company’s top five tips for designing vacation home rentals that will draw in vacationers:

Timeless Design

Too often, vacation home owners decorate according to their tastes and preferences.  But it’s unlikely you’ll be staying in your property very often (at least that’s the hope if you want to make a profit!).  Therefore, focus on classic, timeless design.  According to Andy Moore of Gulfcoast Property Management, “while interior design trends will come and go, your rental properties will not need remodeling for many years when you successfully start with a timeless look.”

Now, timeless does not mean boring!  Adding character and style is important.  But avoid choosing styles that are overly ornate, trendy, or offbeat.  While you may love the look of Roman columns and marble statuary, your guests may not share your vision!

Use classic and simple designs in your vacation home rentals, such as this dining room in rustic wood and cream color.
Incorporate classic and simple style, such as in this dining room. Home designed and built by the Coastal Cottage Company.

Local Design

One way to add character to a vacation home rental is to infuse local culture into the decor.  Your guests have chosen the location for a reason, so find ways to incorporate its history and atmosphere.  Shop in local stores for items that can only be found in the region, such as building materials, flowers and greenery, artwork, books on the history of the area, tasty treats, or luxurious bath products.  This is a simple but fantastic way to help guests feel like they are experiencing the local flavor without even leaving the house! 

Durable Design

With so many people coming and going, vacation home rentals can suffer a lot of wear and tear.  For beachfront properties, this is especially true as sand gets everywhere, air conditioners run constantly, and families with children often are renters.  Hardwood and tile floors are much easier to maintain than carpeting, while throw rugs can warm up a space and be tossed into the washing machine.  For countertops, quartz and granite are both sturdy and stylish.  Avoid materials that scratch easily such as soapstone and laminate.  While you don’t want your rental to feel institutional, you do want it to last without frequent repairs. 

Decorate to reflect the location of your vacation home rentals, such as this bedroom with rustic wood and green walls. Home designed and built by the Coastal Cottage Company.
Decorate to reflect the location, such as this bedroom with rustic wood and green walls. Home designed and built by the Coastal Cottage Company.

Luxurious Design

Vacations are intended to be relaxing and pampering, something that transports guests away from the mundane.  So while durability and timeless design are important, your property should look and feel like a retreat.  Focus on comfort and try to anticipate your guests’ needs.  For example, provide plenty of high quality linens, rainfall shower heads, plush rugs, and throw blankets.  Depending on your budget, consider adding unique elements that will make the property memorable like a cozy reading nook or extravagant outdoor kitchen.  If you’re on a tight budget, small details can lead to a high return on investment.  For example, install lighting dimmers, provide eco-friendly bath products, or add electrical outlets with USB ports to charge mobile devices.

Kitchen Design

Often, guests choose vacation homes over hotels for the extra amenities they provide.  One of the top five amenities that motivate guests to book a property is the kitchen.  Cooking is a fantastic way for vacationers to save money and spend time with the friends or family they’re traveling with.  So if you’re deciding where to spend your money, the kitchen is a good bet.  As interior designer Mercedes Brennan said, people want to stay in a home they wish they had, so adding a luxurious kitchen can be a good investment.  If pricey upgrades are out of the question, ensure you have provided everything guests will need to cook and enjoy a meal.  For example, provide small appliances like blenders, utensils like can openers, seating for multiple people, even cookbooks that feature local cuisine.

Provide a kitchen that has everything your guests will need, especially enough seating.
Provide a kitchen that has everything your guests will need, especially enough seating like at this fantastic counter. Home designed and built by the Coastal Cottage Company.

We hope these tips will help you design a vacation property that looks like it belongs in Condé Nast Traveller and puts you on track to get more bookings!  And if you’re interested in building a vacation home to rent (or to enjoy yourself), we’d love to chat with you!


Blog by Jessica T. Smith for the Coastal Cottage Company

Drawer Joints

Kitchen Drawer Joints and Slides

Great kitchens are both beautiful and functional.  But the best kitchens are designed around each homeowner’s unique needs.  Island or no island?  Open shelving or cabinet doors?  Granite or quartz countertops?  Electric ceramic or gas burner stovetop?

With so many options, it’s easy to overlook something as basic as kitchen drawers.  But think about how frequently your drawers are used and how much wear and tear they experience.  Thus, choosing high quality drawer construction is key to designing your dream kitchen.

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of choosing solid cabinetry materials, so we won’t belabor that point.  Instead, let’s focus on another essential element of quality cabinetry construction: drawer joints.

Drawer Joints

There are a variety of joinery techniques and many ways to combine them in order to construct a drawer.  As with most aspects of homebuilding, each technique has its strengths and weaknesses.  According to Bill Hylton, master carpenter and author, the strongest joint needs to be between the front and sides because that area experiences the most impact.  Dan Cary, from Woodworker’s Journal, concurs:  “when suddenly opened, the corner joints are pulled and when closed, the abrupt stop puts several pounds of stress on the joints, especially on the front.”  After years of pushing, pulling, and slamming, your drawers can begin to come apart.

Drawer Joints
Box joint, Image: Startwoodworking.com

Two of the strongest options are box joints and dovetail joints.  A box joint (also called a finger joint) is a corner joint with interlocking pins that are cut at 90 degree angles.  In contrast, a dovetail joint uses wedge-shaped pins.  

Drawer Joints
Dovetail joint, Image: Finewoodworking.com

Both types provide a large area for gluing and the interlocking pins provide a lot of support.  According to Lee Valley Tools, for hundreds of years, dovetailed drawer joints were valued because they provided a form of mechanical lock when glue failed. With today’s much stronger and more durable glues, the joint has become more decorative than functional but is still a favorite of carpenters and homeowners alike.  However, drawers with dovetail joints can be more expensive because, even with the help of modern equipment, more skill is required to construct a finely made dovetail joint.

Drawer Joints
Left: Rabbet, Right: Dado, Image: DIYadvice.com

Another strong option that requires less skill to make (and therefore can be cheaper), is the dado-and-rabbet method of joinery.  A dado is a three-sided slot cut into the surface of a piece of wood.  A rabbet is two-sided and open to the edge or end of the surface into which it is cut. The dado-and-rabbet joint locks together, providing strength and stability, without the intricate cutting required by dovetail drawer joints.

There are many other types of joinery that will help your drawers last.  Ultimately, you want to avoid the simple butt joint, which is the weakest form of joinery, as well as stapled drawer fronts.  Both will likely cause your drawers to split, crack, or fall apart much too soon.  For a fantastic explanation of drawer construction (and lovely illustrations), check out this excerpt from Bill Hylton’s book Chest of Drawers

Drawer Slides

Now that you understand the importance of solid drawer joinery, let’s explore slides which help drawers open and close smoothly. Drawer slides typically are made of stamped metal and operate with plastic or metal ball bearings.

Drawer Joints
Side-mount slides, Image: Rockler.com

When choosing a drawer slide it’s most important to consider load ratings which range from 50-pound to 100-pound capacities.  Drawers that will hold heavier items, such as utensils or dishes, should use slides with higher load ratings.  

You should also consider how far the drawer opens.  According to Elizabeth Beeler from HGTV, quality drawer slide options range from three-quarter-extension slides that allow most of the drawer to be pulled out, to full-extension slides which allow access to the entire drawer. Under-mount slides are more costly than side-mount slides. However, they also tend to warp and sag less, which saves on repairs down the road.

Drawer Joints
Undermount slides, Image: Rockler.com

Make sure the slides you choose are produced from heavy-duty materials that won’t rust over time and have easy-gliding rollers or ball bearings. When testing models, open drawers fully to ensure they move smoothly and quietly, and that they don’t tilt or feel unstable when fully extended.  For more great advice on quality cabinetry, check out HomeStyleChoices.com published by engineer Rob Levesque.

Finally, if you’re seeking a worth-the-investment upgrade, look no further than self-closing drawers.  Sometimes called soft-closing or feather-touch, these slides retract with a gentle push and include shock absorption that prevents drawers from slamming shut.  Not only will this save your eardrums but will also reduce the stress placed on the drawers, increasing their longevity.


Blog by Jessica T. Smith for the Coastal Cottage Company 

Cabinet Boxes: Particle Board vs. Plywood

The Coastal Cottage Company’s last post focused on choosing a design for your kitchen cabinets – Shaker, inset, flat, or beadboard.  When building or remodeling, figuring out your style is the fun part.  But as important as style is, cabinets are worthless if they aren’t made of sound materials.  

Particle Board or Plywood?

One of the most important considerations to ensure your kitchen cabinets will survive typical wear and tear is choosing the right material for your cabinet boxes.  Because the box is mostly hidden, folks often don’t worry about its construction.  But much like your skeletal system keeps you upright and stable, the box keeps your cabinets sturdy.  Think about the abuse cabinets endure — they’re weighted down with dishes, their drawers are slammed, and their doors are kicked.  Thus, cabinet boxes must be strong.

Typically, homeowners choose between plywood and particle board.  Each has its own benefits and weaknesses but, generally speaking, plywood is considered the better option.

What’s the difference?

Particle board (sometimes called “furniture board”) is a wood product manufactured from wood chips, sawmill shavings, or sawdust, and a synthetic resin, which is compressed.  In contrast, plywood is made of thin layers of wood veneer, called “plies,” that are glued together with adjacent layers having their wood grain rotated 90 degrees.  This alternation of the grain is called cross-graining and has several important benefits: it reduces the tendency of wood to split when nailed; it reduces expansion and shrinkage; and it makes the strength of the panel consistent across all directions. There are usually an odd number of plies which helps to reduce warping.

Cabinet Boxes: Particle Board vs. Plywood
7-ply spruce plywood. Image from Wikipedia.

But not all plywood is created equal.  Jim Mallery, from Old House Web, recommends the following:

  • The wood should have many thin plies — at least 7-ply for ¾-inch plywood (including the veneer), but you can go as high as 13-ply.
  • When you look along the edge of the plywood, you should not see any voids or gaps in the plies.
  • And if you see any warping in a sheet of plywood, it is not suitable for cabinetry.

According to Kelly Gallagher, of Boston Building Resources, particle board quality depends on the size of the particles, the glue that holds it together, and the density of the board. Smaller particles make the board denser and heavier while polyurethane resin makes it more moisture resistant. One of the best kinds of particle board is medium density fiberboard (MDF), but it can be very heavy, making it difficult to hang large cabinets.

Cabinet Boxes: Particle Board vs. Plywood
Particle board of different densities. Image from Wikipedia.

How do you decide?

The biggest strengths of particle board are its lower price and smoother finish, but plywood tends to be more durable, less susceptible to moisture, and holds glue joints better.  When deciding, consider your budget and even ask your contractor if it’s possible to use both.  For example, choose plywood for areas where there may be more moisture (such as around the sink and next to the dishwasher) or use particle board just for shelves.  Whatever your decision, select the highest quality materials you can afford to ensure your cabinets will last for years to come.


Blog by Jessica T. Smith for the Coastal Cottage Company 

Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

The Four Most Popular Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

The holidays are quickly approaching. This means our kitchens will experience an increase in traffic as we host parties and welcome family into our homes.  This is also the time of year we complain about our kitchens and dream of spaces more amenable to entertaining.  The Coastal Cottage Company is here to help, whether you’re considering a remodel, building a vacation home, or just writing a wish list for the future.  This month and next, we will feature posts to help you achieve your dream kitchen!


First, let’s talk cabinetry.  Cabinets are more than utilitarian; they’re the face of your kitchen, communicating style and personality.  They’re also something that can be changed without completely remodeling.  New cabinet doors and fixtures can invigorate a tired kitchen, but the number of options is overwhelming!  So here are four of the most popular kitchen cabinet door styles to get you started.

Shaker

Shaker kitchen cabinet doors get their name from the Shaker furniture style characterized by clean and functional design.  According to Gabrielle Di Stefano, contributor at Houzz.com, Shaker cabinets are made using rail and stile construction (four pieces make the frame and a single flat panel sits in the center).  

Rail and Stile: Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Image: Robert Robillard, from A Concord Carpenter


This style has been popular for decades due to its versatility and simplicity.  Homeowners can choose from a variety of finishes.  If you want a more contemporary look, a painted finish looks fresh.  Or, use a glass insert for the center panel.  For something more “shabby-chic,” consider a burnished finish or maintain the natural woodgrain for a rustic style.  Check out this photo gallery for inspiration:
http://www.houzz.com/shaker-style-cabinet-door

Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Image: Kitchen Cabinet Kings

Inset

The inset style is characterized by the doors sitting inside the cabinet frame, as opposed to resting outside the frame.  This style is very attractive, but also tends to be the most expensive option because it requires extremely precise measurements to ensure the door sits perfectly inside the cabinet frame with enough room for the wood to expand and contract.  

According to Shane Inman, principal interior designer of The Inman Company, inset doors with exposed hinges is often a nice combination.  Homeowners can choose hinges that reflect the style of the kitchen, but keep in mind that it will add an additional cost (in contrast, hidden hinges are often included in the price of the cabinet box).  This photo gallery includes beautiful examples of inset cabinets with exposed hinges: http://www.houzz.com/inset-cabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Image: Stonebreaker Builders & Remodelers

Flat

Because there are no frames or inset panels, flat cabinet doors look clean and minimalist, making them especially attractive in contemporary homes. Flat doors typically come in wood or laminate, with a variety of colors and finishes to choose from.  Some homeowners avoid cluttering their cabinet surfaces with hardware while others choose modern options like stainless steel or brushed nickel bar pulls.  Check out this gallery for examples: http://www.houzz.com/flat-cabinet-door

Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Image: LDa Architecture and Interiors

Beadboard

If the flat kitchen cabinet style is just too plain, you may like the look of beadboard.  Beadboard is made of rows of vertical planks with an indentation or ridge–known as a “bead”–in between each plank.  This gives the cabinet door texture and looks fantastic in country farmhouse or cottage style kitchens.  It can look crisp and cheerful when painted or rustic when the wood is left more natural.  Peruse this image gallery for ideas: http://www.houzz.com/white-beadboard-kitchen-cabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles
Image: The Coastal Cottage Company

Shaker, inset, flat, and beadboard are a few of the most popular styles of kitchen cabinet doors.  Each reflects different interior design styles and even homeowners’ personalities.  What style would go in your dream kitchen?


Blog by Jessica T. Smith for the Coastal Cottage Company 

Footer background

Let Us Know

© 2017 The Coastal Cottage Company. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Web Design