Vacation properties can be tricky to furnish. They must catch the eye of folks looking for a place to spend their vacation. But the furnishings also must be able to withstand a fair amount of wear and tear, especially if it’s a beach condo that is usually fully rented over the summer.
Such was the challenge that my design partner (Liz Johnson Design Studio) and I faced when we were hired to replace all of the living and dining furniture in a five-bedroom condo in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The existing furniture had served its purpose; it was time for an upgrade. The condo owner knew that with numerous vacation rentals available at any given time, including AirBnB listings, he needed to refresh and upgrade the decor. That said, we were on a tight timetable and even tighter budget. The summer rentals would begin in just weeks.
We needed everything: a dining room table and chairs that could seat at least eight; a queen sofa bed, loveseat and two side chairs. Also, a coffee table, media console table, lamps and accessories. In a perfect world, the first step would have been to create a design board and decide on the colors and key pieces of furniture in advance. But in this case, we didn’t have the luxury of time. Still, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. Warm woods that weren’t too dark. Colors that gave vibrancy and interest to the space. And, given the number of items to be bought, mostly gently used furniture rather than new pieces. And so the hunt began at furniture outlet stores, a model home furniture outlet, Craigslist and more.
Two critical pieces were found early on: a queen sleeper in turquoise ultrasuede and a brown side sofa. Those helped us decide on a color scheme of turquoise, orange and brown, making it easy to add lighting, pillows, fabrics and accessories that complemented that pallette. Art was important, too, because there’s a lot of wall space. We opted primarily for photography. We found some wonderful sepia toned photos of shells and arranged to have some beachy shots by a local photographer enlarged.
We were able to use of some of the old furniture. For instance, we added orange cushions to two of the former dining chairs and created a sitting area near the entrance. We paired them with a small table from one of the bedrooms along with baskets for wet and sandy items.
In the end, this assignment was an exercise in resourcefulness, serendipity and creativity. By staying flexible while keeping the overall goal in mind, we showed that it doesn’t always take a lot of time and money to create an inspired space.