“It’s all in the details… article for Design Commotion magazine titled “what the joys are…”

by Erin Paige Pitts


A second home; a clean slate. A place you don’t have to bring your grandmother’s china or your aunt Sara’s mirror. A place your mind has been going to for years…a place right out of your fondest dreams.

To different people, vacation means different things. To some, it is a day chock full of activities: golfing and fishing, perhaps, or hiking and skiing. To others, it is a restful place where they can

decompress, relax, and unwind. Some prefer large homes that allow space for family and friends, while others dream of spaces small, personal and quaint. As an interior designer who has created many second homes, I find that asking questions to draw from my clients the elements they truly want in their second homes is “key.” I then take what I refer to as “the download,” or the information I’ve gathered, and use it to interpret a design concept to best represent each client’s dream. Even though the spaces in the second homes I design may vary stylistically and architecturally, I often find several reoccurring themes. First, clients do not want to sacrifice beauty and luxury for durability but they absolutely want the house to be durable, cleanable and be able to withstand the rigors of guests. I have been able to create beautiful interiors using highly cleanable fabrics such as Sunbrella. I’ve been able to nudge even particularly doubtful clients from disbelief when they see what can be achieved with highly durable fabrics.

For one particular client, who couldn’t seem to comprehend this, I created two presentation boards. The first board was composed of high-end designer fabrics. The second board was a “knock-off” version of the first, which contained only highly cleanable and some outdoor-worthy fabrics. The client couldn’t tell the difference between many of these when she saw the boards, and the possibilities for achieving a sophisticated look with durable fabrics have continued to increase since then thanks to many fabric companies investing in necessary technology. Some of my favorites are Perennials Fabrics, Sina Pearson, DeLaney and Long, and Ralph Lauren.


Sina Pearson

Delaney & Long

Ralph Lauren

As for furniture, the options are just as vast. Many companies have expanded their lines to include wicker and rattan furnishings that fit as seamlessly inside as they do outside. One of my favorite rooms to design on any given project is the veranda because it is the perfect outdoor living room. Any loggia, in fact, offers the opportunity to use comfortable lounge seating with lively colored fabrics, cabana style drapery panels and candelabra-style lighting—all enhancing the space’s connection to the surrounding outdoors. I love incorporating large glazed planters overflowing with flowers to further connect the landscape with the interiors. 

Lastly, not everyone is able to completely leave the office behind when on vacation so incorporating a home office area, either as part of an existing space such as the kitchen or bedroom, or as a dedicated room is easily achieved. Making the space be equally enjoyable design-wise and having it feel like the rest of the house is important. Outfitting that space with all of the office amenities—computer, fax and scanner, for instance—will decrease stress when some at-home work has to be accomplished. Having a private space where you can concentrate will allow you to jump back into the fun as soon as the work is done. If there is access to a water or mountain view, even better!

When planning your second home, be sure to put a great deal of thought into how you intend to use each space and plan accordingly. If you’re not ready to go it alone, a seasoned interior designer can give you some great direction, which will take the stress out of making your dream home especially dreamy. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Erin, here with her husband Gregory, 6-year -old daughter Scarlet, 4-year-old son Jackson, and 2-year-old daughter Hutton, is a Maryland-based designer. The family’s vacation home is being featured in the June/July issue of Traditional Home Magazine (turn to page 119 for the story titled “All Blue and White Delight.”

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