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7 Things you need to know when styling a Holiday Home




Competition in the holiday home industry is high. Gone are the days when a simple caravan or cottage with a 10-year-old decor would suffice. Customers are choosy and they have plenty of wonderful properties to choose from. 


So from yurts to apartments, what makes a holiday home stand out from the crowd and make people want to return?  We asked Interior Designer, Melissa Hill, to give her top tips and recommendations from local industry experts to help your holiday let stand out from the crowd and maximize bookings.


1 Choosing a style or theme for a holiday home


Choosing a theme for your holiday home will help to create styling focus and a strong identity. A few favourite styles for holiday homes are:


Tropical Interiors


Don't be alarmed; this does not have to be orange plastic pelicans! However, subtle prints of palm trees and bright coloured flowers can find their way on to upholstery and soft furnishings.



Tropical Styling Theme


Beginning with white walls, Little Greene's shirting has no optical brighteners and so provides a softer white, giving a perfect background to other colours. Be brave; use brighter greens and oranges in accessories with a large arrangement of citrus fruits balanced by luscious large plants and natural materials. Rattan or thatched furniture completes the theme; whilst sisal and seagrass rugs add a practical finishing touch. 


New England or Nautical theme

New England style is a strong choice for a holiday home as it indicates the influences of the coast without being overtly nautical. Chalky whites with timber floors are the perfect backdrop. Try introducing colour in coastal stripes; the signature look of New England interiors. Blue and white striped cushions with a blue throw add panache. This theme is classy but minimal; a scattering of bottles with white flowers and a blue vase completes the look.


Nautical or New England a subtle mix of styles



Cosy but never old fashioned; a delicate mix of contemporary design with rustic elements avoids a dated feel. If the property starting point contains original features such as beams and a wood burning stove then this look is for you.


Older properties can easily look a little dowdy, instead of using Terracotta to match the walls, consider something much lighter that compliments it; a soft dove grey will add the zing. Brighten dark corners with soft red and green accessories for a cottage feel, then detail an abundance of authentic (battery) candles and faux fur throws for atmosphere on a winter evening.


Interesting artefacts, old books and lanterns can be found at local antique fares or sourced by your local Interior styling specialist.


2 Colour schemes when decorating a holiday home


Colour and fashionable interior trends

The relationship between home interiors and the fashion world is as old as fashion itself. Fashions and interior trends alike change and change fast. Try to avoid being a slave to fashionable colour schemes when styling a holiday rental home. It can be costly to change on-trend colour schemes too frequently. Consider boutique hotels; they work to a theme rather than current trends and create wow factor with longevity to avoid a large dent in profits.


Colour at its best

Poor colour choice can diminish a sense of space whilst careful colour choice will open up that same room.  For example, painting a rear wall in a lighter, softer colour to the other three walls will create a feeling of space. 


A lighter softer shade on one wall will create a sense of space


Alternatively to bring walls forward use a darker colour to create an intimate space in a snug, games room or cinema room. 


A darker shade will create a more cosy, intimate space


Yellow, green or blue with a garden theme in a sun room or breakfast room can create a beautiful outside-in effect, even on a cold wet day. An indoor swimming pool can benefit from Trompe L'Oeill realistic paint effects with Roman planters, trailing vines and fluffy clouds in a blue sky. 


Spending time considering colour and the effects you wish to achieve will pay dividends in your complete interior finish. This is where a professional home stylist can work wonders, save you time and money and help you to achieve an excellent colour scheme as opposed to an average one. 


Rupert Kirkham of Kirkham Decorating, Taunton advises that paint choice is vital in a holiday home, especially in areas of heavy wear such as a staircase. 'Make sure walls are washable such as cleanable paints Dulux Diamond, available in eggshell and emulsion. These may be more expensive initially but will save you money in the long term, as you won't need to decorate as frequently. Avoid additional work in the area soon after decorating as the paints' full properties take effect 7 days after application.' 


Consider darker paint in Dulux Diamond on a staircase in a holiday home


Dulux trade paint Diamond says' Diamond's NEW technology actively repels stains and makes them easier to clean.'


Cleaning Paint in holiday lets

General cleaning of Diamond paint - dilute 50 parts warm water to one part Sprint detergent and sponge lightly with a decorator's sponge. 


Heavy duty cleaning of Diamond paint - 20 parts warm water to one part Sprint detergent and sponge lightly with a decorator's sponge (Plus point is the positive impact on the environment when people do not have to redecorate so frequently. 


Decorators advisory: Rupert would expect a high-quality finish on an average sized holiday home to take approximately two weeks with a refresh needed every two to three years. Plan early - good decorators will be booked up months in advance. For optimum results have a deep clean first, ensure skirting boards are spotless and ceilings are dust free.


3 Choosing furniture for a holiday home



Furniture should be an investment and given careful thought - 'buy cheap then buy twice'.


Consider cost, value, style to suit location, colour of furniture, theme, local interest and fire regulations. Holiday lets need to abide by fire regulations for businesses. 


Cheap furniture may not portray the stylish quality needed to be competitive in the holiday market. Be careful if considering flat pack furniture; it may not be resilient to the wear and tear of a holiday let. If you buy cheaply then you may need to re-think and buy twice.


Furniture choices for a holiday home need to be photogenic, as many would-be-guests will make their choices based on the accommodation photographs. 


Furniture for holiday homes should be resiliant, comfortable and well-made


Dark furniture will absorb the light and does not photograph well, so think twice before buying that dark leather settee. However, practicality is important and wipe clean finishes are useful. Avoid white and cream where possible.


Guests want to be comfortable throughout their stay in sumptuous beds with a selection of pillow types and comfortable furniture. Your furniture will need to work with your chosen theme, which will dictate your furniture style. 


Pieces of furniture made locally in the area are great in a holiday let. Wuffles Design in Axbridge, Somerset make bespoke pieces of furniture to suit your theme. 


An Interior Styling Professional will ensure that your final choice of furniture suits your property, budget, practicality, durability and of course, the finished result envisaged for your project. 


 Wuffles Design bespoke furniture


4 What type of flooring for a holiday home?


Finding flooring that is practical and comfortable can be difficult. Carpets can easily get dirty; some laminates can look cheap and tiles cold. If you have an older property you may be lucky enough to find solid wood floor hidden under the present flooring. 



Laminate flooring can be durable but a good quality grade laminate that is fitted professionally is essential if you want it to look sophisticated. 



Carpets attract dirt and odours which become buried, so needs more maintenance. Carpets that can be bleached are a good option in rental homes. Polypropylene carpets are recommended by Anne Wells of Wells Carpet Brokers in Axminster, if you wish to make an area cozier. They are easy to keep clean and fresh as most types can be bleached. However, when it comes to being hardwearing a wool mix is ideal. 


Polypropylene carpets are easy to clean



Tiles are a good choice for low maintenance and durability but need to be avoided in colder climates unless you are willing to install under floor heating. Limestone should be avoided, as discoloration and disintegration can be a problem. Ceramic tiled floors are now a popular choice for both modern and traditional homes. They are stylish, hardwearing, easy to clean and suitable for any room. Always make sure bathroom tiles are anti-slip. 


Luxury Vinyl

Matthew Paul of C&H Carpets and flooring suggests luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) such as Karndean as a good choice in rental properties. He adds that it can be fitted in a day and is available in many different finishes including wood and travertine effect. Paul recommends that Karndean is laid on a flat surface so a latex screed on a concrete floor or plywood on top of floorboards is necessary. 


Karndean Oak flooring 


Under-floor heating

When using underfloor heating Anne Wells suggests using low tog everything, including underlay to enable heat to quickly penetrate through the flooring. Using door mats and felt pads will help to protect your investment. 


5 Choosing soft furnishings for a holiday home


Soft Furnishings

When considering soft furnishings for rental accommodation it is important to remember that all fabrics and soft furnishings must be fire retardant and approved to current British standards.


Soft furnishings in holiday homes need careful consideration


Sue Risdon of Sewing Sue in Hemyock advises that rental property owners should always contact their insurance company to find out what fire standards they require. Sue adds that when it comes to durability it depends on the client's budget and the look required. Polyester tends to be more hardwearing but remember to keep things simple. 


Sewing Sue example window seat and matching cushion


Julie Bryan of Dimity Button in Wedmore often uses neutral stripes in holiday accommodation, which is a good backdrop to easily change the look of a space. Julie adds coloured trims such as tassels, braiding and beading which can easily be altered to change the look.


Dimity Button fabric and soft furnishings


6 Considering a new kitchen for a holiday home


A cost of a new kitchen should be approximately 10% of your property's worth. Most people look at kitchens and bathrooms first when choosing a holiday let. If cooking is not your thing it's a good idea to ask a professional to help create what will probably be the heart of the holiday home. Investing in a good quality kitchen will stand the test of time and ensure that your holiday let stands out from the competition. 


Harvey and Wade Kitchens advise comparing quotes and quality


Popular choices in kitchen styles remain the painted slab or shaker kitchen. 


When comparing kitchen quotes George Wade from Harvey and Wade Kitchens in Taunton recommends comparing like for like, as choosing the less expensive option will probably not pay dividends in the long run. There is little point in going through the hard work and expense of fitting a kitchen to have to do it all over again in a few years and close accommodation whilst work is completed. 


Understanding what your cupboard doors are made of before fitting is important, George says. They need to be durable. Spray finished paintwork ensures that the product is hardwearing. £6-£7,000 should provide a small painted maple kitchen and quartz worktop, which will stand the test of time. 


The most common cause of fires in holiday homes includes kitchens and cooking. Holiday homeowners are responsible for understanding the fire risks and complying with the fire Safety Law.


7 Why hire a professional to design my holiday home?


There are several things to consider when creating an exceptional holiday home. 

Firstly, says Melissa Hill, Interior Designer and Home Stager for House Wow Taunton and Somerset, 'It's a common misconception that hiring an Interior stylist or Designer will be too expensive and that doing it yourself will be cheaper. In reality Design Professionals understand which styles suit varied property and where to source quality products at the best price to save you money.'



Melissa Hill recommends Design Scheme planning for Holiday Homes


Melissa explains; 'Designers can help clients to invest in things that are important. Doing it yourself is hard work. Simply choosing the wrong paint can waste time, money and effort as there are so many variables in getting it right. Choosing the right finish, product and colour can be a huge headache.


Your personal tastes may be a disaster for a holiday home. The right Designer, says Melissa, will work with your suggestions but remove the element of personal choice to create an exceptional holiday home. Design professionals have good relationships with trades such as soft furnishers to be able to recommend the best and achieve keener prices.'


A good stylist will start from the ground up, creating mood boards and collating samples so that you are confident in the finished result before the work begins.


Find out about holiday home styling in Taunton and Somerset

Contact Melissa Hill Interior Designer and Home Stager here




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House Wow would like to thank our expert contributors to this article: 

Melissa Hill Interior Designer and Home Stager 

Wells Carpet Brokers Ltd

Sewing Sue

Dimity Button

Harvey & Wade Kitchens

C & H Carpets and Flooring

Kirkman painting and decorating 

For further information on design scheme planning and project management for holiday homes contact Melissa Hill




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