When Stephanie Koskuba and her husband, Mike, bought their vacation home in bucolic Quechee, Vermont, in 2004, it was to provide themselves a tranquil respite, a place to unwind, a far cry from their busy careers and fast-paced lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Nestled in a woodsy setting near the top of a tree-covered hill, the three-story, 2,100-square-foot home fits the bill. At least once a month between late spring and Christmas, with 5-year-old Matthew in tow, the Koskubas make the five-hour drive from Hoboken to spend a long weekend in Vermont.
Stephanie Koskuba, who works in banking, has discovered that a few simple interior design ideas enhance the experience, making each visit to their Vermont home a geographic jaunt and a departure for the senses.
Change It Up
When she set out to paint the home’s interior walls, Koskuba first considered colors similar to those on the walls of her primary residence — light, muted colors. She decided to go bolder in the vacation home.
“The master bedroom is a sort of burnt pumpkin orange, and the den is this deep, mustard yellow,” she said. “These are not colors I’d want to live with every day. We decided to have a little fun with it. We wanted it to feel like a different place, like we were really going away.”
The takeaway: Don’t shy away from taking risk with the interior design of your vacation house. If a wall color, furnishing, work of art or basic design scheme gives you good vibes, but you’re not sure you could live with it year-round, it might be the perfect choice for your home away from home.
Take Your Lead from the Surroundings
Foliage, trees, stone and mountains, and their corresponding greens, browns and grays, surround the Koskubas’ Quechee home. Koskuba says those elements and colors informed the home’s design.
“We were inspired by the area,” she said. “We used a lot of earthy tones. So we get the feel of the area inside and out. It’s kind of a signal that it’s time to slow down and relax.”
Shauna Leftwich, an interior designer with Ashley Hall Interiors in New Orleans, often advises clients with vacation homes to “bring the outside in.”
“We have a few clients with vacation homes in the North Carolina highlands,” Leftwich said. “The design is typically themed toward nature. They’re going as a retreat, and they want it to feel like a peaceful place, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Another tip is to consider the time of year you’ll be spending most of your time at a vacation home and let that be a factor in your interior design. Since she knew the Vermont home would get the majority of its use during fall months, Koskuba used a design scheme that corresponds with that season, such as the pumpkin color on the walls of the master bedroom.
Capitalize on Natural Assets
Koskuba says her family loves to spend time outside. But when they’re in Hoboken, busy schedules and a small yard restrict their outdoor time more than they’d like. They wanted to make sure they’d be able to get their fair share of mountain air when in Vermont.
The vacation home has a large outdoor deck overlooking the hill’s lower slope. The Koskubas outfitted it with a large patio table and comfortable seating for frequent outdoor dining and lounging.
Soon after they bought the home they discovered their deck to be ideally situated for an uncommon form of sightseeing. A nearby field is the site of the annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Crafts and Music Festival and a popular hot air balloon launching ground throughout most of the year. The balloons’ flight path usually brings them just over the Koskubas’ deck.
“It’s great,” Koskuba said. “When we hear the engines start up, we know they’ll be coming, so we go out on the deck. It’s quite a show.”
Hot air balloons don’t float above every home, of course, but every home has some natural attribute that can be embraced. Maybe it has a perfect sunset view that can become a daily cocktail hour ritual with the right furnishings. Maybe it has a tree limb begging for a tire swing or a porch corner screaming for a hammock.
Leftwich said a number of her firm’s clients own second homes in the New Orleans French Quarter, where wrought iron balconies look out on antebellum buildings and streets filled with shops, cafes, buskers, sightseers and — often — revelers.
“People like to go out on their balconies and people-watch,” she said. “So we design for that — comfortable seating that helps them lounge and relax … however we can best help them enjoy their home.”