So, here is the news. You already know that I recently bought a cottage in upstate New York. Well, my brother also bought a property upstate (on the same day) His house, a three bedroom, is also a gut renovation situation, but since he already lives upstate, he is hoping to make it a vacation rental. We love this kind of stuff. Well, obviously, let's hope I do! Although my brother is not an interior designer, he is super handy. He renovated his own house - even rewired the whole thing - and used to restore vintage Volkswagens. He loves to sketch and plan and build stuff. Needless to say, all we talk about lately is our renovation projects. He is always trying to come up with ways to save me money and help out, not to mention that he is putting me up when I am upstate working on the cottage - hello swimming pool and a sister-in-law who is a great cook. Although he has his own ideas for his house - and they are good ones - I am trying to convince him to let me repay him by helping with the interior design and decoration of his rental project, because, let's face it, I am his target audience - city folk.
I feel that when renovating to flip or rent a house, keeping finishes pretty neutral is a good idea, but that doesn't mean boring. You can always add in texture and pattern, vary furnishings in terms of wood, glass or metallics and bring in greenery to make a place feel layered and pulled together. I am thinking wood floor, white walls, black kitchen cabinets, subway tile - keeping it easy and simple, but more on the kitchen later. Let's focus on the living room for now, which is probably always where you are going to spend the most money on furniture. I love the sofa in the above inspiration image - leather is great for vacation rentals, as are slipcovers, so I put both in my first mock-up proposal (top image). The budget is tight, but I found a great leather sofa on craigslist and the chairs are IKEA. In general, and after speaking with my brother, I feel the space needs to be comfortable and relaxed, but also not random and too disparate - as many vacation homes are where leftover furniture seems to go to live out its last days.
This image above probably has a bit too much of a modern or Scandinavian vibe for this project, but I like the mood and that sofa is begging to be lounged on - exactly what you want to do on vacation. Eventhough the house is currently gutted and nowhere near ready for furniture, I wanted to pull something together for my brother illustrating some of the above ideas, so this week in my off hours I gave myself the challenge to furnish the living room space for around $1,500. This mock-up (in the top image) is what I came up with - thanks to craigslist, Target, Urban Outfitters and IKEA. If this were a primary residence, I would probably upgrade some things, such as the IKEA chairs and the Urban Outfitters side table and floor lamp, but I am pretty happy with everything else. I could definitely spend a weekend in this living room. Now we'll just have to wait and see if he will let me get my hot little decorator hands on his house for real.
On a side note, this is a VERY small budget and small budgets take a lot more time, so this amount is just not practical if your interior designer is one you hire (i.e. not your sister). You'd have to pay your designer probably twice as much in fees just to find things. With a small budget, I usually devise a plan for the client that is shopped out over time as money allows. Remember the 'ole project management saying, you can have things good, fast and cheap - pick any two. However, I also recognize you can't wait a year for furniture, so buying some short term affordable pieces that you can resell or donate when you upgrade later can often be a strategy.
You can contact me here if you are looking for help with an interior design project or follow along behind the scenes on Instagram. Have a happy 4th!