Decor goes on holiday
Vacation property’s look should reflect its location
LOCATION, location, location is the mantra we all live by when it comes to buying real estate, whether it’s a primary residence in the city or a vacation pad on a golden coast beside a never-ending expanse of skyblue water.
And the advice holds true when it comes to decorating, too. Just as it makes no sense to use a Santa Fe theme in a living room set amid the lush greenery of Vancouver, parachuting our Prairie palette into a Costa Rican condo doesn’t compute.
Take Sarah Richardson’s second home, for example. The Toronto-based designer and TV host recently renovated the two-bedroom cottage she shares with her husband and two young children. Rather than transporting the esthetic of her city home to her island getaway, Richardson looked through the cottage windows and found inspiration in the shimmering water, the tactile bark of the birch trees and even the grey-green lichen covering the rocks at the water’s edge.
“I think about wanting it to feel cool and watery and refreshing. I want it to be crisp, so I wasn’t looking to use any heavy textures. My idea of cosy in summer is flopping onto a luxuriously comfortable sofa and curling up with an antique cotton quilt that has been washed a million times,” Richardson says. (Transforming that utilitarian cottage into a family retreat was documented on the HGTV series Sarah’s Cottage.)
“I’m happy to have our place in the city. It’s more modern and the pace moves so fast, but when I go to the country, I want to feel like I’ve just arrived at somebody’s family estate that has been around for generations.”
Unless you and yours are lucky enough to be in possession of a second residence that comes fully furnished with family heirlooms, it’s up to you to create that lived-in feel. Richardson cautions that before cracking a book of swatches or picking up a deck of paint chips, owners should put on their thinking caps.
“I would advise anyone looking at a recreation project to consider when will you be using it, how will you be using it, what will the weather be like outside and how you want it to feel inside.” The goal is to create an environment that is reflective of “the spirit and the mood of when you will be using it.”
In addition to examining the how of using a recreation property, there is the question of who.
“I say that you should look at renters and family much the same way. ... That means selecting long-lasting, versatile pieces made to withstand plenty of use.
“When decorating, it’s no more expensive to be practical than it is to be ridiculous. Choose pieces of furniture that are well-built and well-made. That is a huge part of the reason why I go for vintage or antiques — tables, dressers, side tables, everything — a lot of the time.”
While perusing antique markets in the country may have more allure than trolling thrift stores and second-hand markets, each will surely yield a treasure or two. And bonus points if you can find items that speak to the history and heritage of the location of the vacation property.
Richardson is adamant on the value of tried-and-true pieces made of solid wood. They add more charm, design depth and personality than a furniture package selected over the course of an afternoon at the local big-box store, she says.
“Keep in mind pieces that are made of solid wood, which may have developed a patina over 100 years, aren’t going to show the age. Nobody is going to notice the wear and tear on them. It actually helps make it look better.”
Steer clear of easily marked veneers and highly polished surfaces, she warns, including the espresso finish so popular these days.
“One scratch from one renter and the thing is ruined forever. However, if you spent the same money, you could have got a vintage piece and it will look as good in 10 years as it did 40 years ago,” Richardson maintains.
And when it comes to recovering that upholstered chair you picked up for a song at the garage sale around the corner, select the bargain-basement-priced fabric first, then build the colour and decorating scheme around it.
“I’m really practical in my selection of textiles. I am a cotton girl at heart. I like anything that is bathing-suit friendly and washable, whether that is summer or winter. In winter, that can be velvets that can be thrown into the washing machine and then thrown into the dryer.”
— Postmedia News
Rather than transporting the esthetic of her city home to her island getaway, Sarah Richardson looked through the cottage windows and found inspiration in the shimmering water, the tactile bark of the birch trees and even the grey-green lichen covering the rocks at the water’s edge.
Richardson is adamant on the value of tried-and-true pieces made of solid wood. They add more charm, design depth and personality than a furniture package se
lected over the course of an afternoon at the local big-box store, she says.
Sarah Richardson is the host of Design Inc. on HGTV. The Toronto-based designer recently renovated the two-bedroom cottage she shares with her husband and two