Decorating touches help spruce up vacation homes



From airy beach houses filled with light to rustic retreats tucked into the mountains, vacation homes can lead to inspired decorating.

“You love that place, that’s why you’re there. That’s the place you want to go to relax,” said Dallas interior designer Jan Showers, author most recently of Glamorous Retreats (Harry N. Abrams). “You want it very user-friendly.”

Homes detailed in her book include a seaside cottage in Nantucket with decorating touches in cool blues and greens; shells that the family collected are placed throughout the house.

An artist’s getaway in Marin County, California, features the owner’s photorealist work, and a studio that is a riot of color, with shelves filled with books and antique toys. The master bedroom of a Texas lake house takes inspiration from the colors of the water, with walls painted in what Showers describes in her book as a “pond green.”

Showers, whose signature style is adding glamour to interiors, talked to The Associated Press about decorating vacation homes. (The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

AP: How do you add glamorous touches to a retreat that is more casual than a year-round home?

Showers: My glamour is a very relaxed glamour. It’s not about satin, furs and all that stuff. My idea of glamour is Katharine Hepburn in a black turtleneck and black pants and a red cardigan sweater.

I think most of my clients love the fact that I use really fun glass, and maybe it’s glass that’s not as expensive or as important as they’d use in their primary residence. But we do use groups of glass because it brings such an interesting element to a room.

I’m a big believer in everything looking comfortable. And to me, if it’s comfortable and inviting, that’s glamorous. Another way is good lighting. There’s nothing worse than overhead lighting. Lamps add to the glamour of a room because everybody looks better.

AP: How would you suggest sprucing up a retreat that looks tired?

Showers: An easy, fast way to change things up — one of the easiest — is pillows. There are so many different fabulous pillows, and they’re not expensive. It’s nice to do seasonally. If you go to your retreat in the summer, you may want linen pillows that are lighter colors, more summery, and if it’s winter, you might want some plaid pillows.

Another thing that’s easy to change is throws. I love throws — they just sort of say, “take a nap.” And now there are all kinds of wonderful rugs at all kinds of prices, and washable. It can change your whole look in a room to do a new rug.

AP: What about outdoor spaces?

Showers: People now want their outdoor spaces to be like their indoor spaces. There are even outside air conditioners — you can find anything to be outdoors. You’ve got to have outdoor fabrics. There are even outdoor lamps now.

I like a drinks cart of some kind that you can put lemonade on, cocktails — something cold in the summertime.

AP: If you can’t afford a retreat, how can you make your home feel like one?

Showers: What is it that people really want to do when they go away? Most of us think about a good beach read or fun books, so I would say just buy some. Disconnect, take your cell phone and put it in a drawer. Go to the grocery store and buy some different food that you don’t normally cook. If it’s not too hot, you could get a big umbrella and sit outside with your book. Go out to dinner someplace that you don’t usually go.

Naps are great on vacations — add throws to your sofas and settle in for a nice one after a lunch al fresco and maybe with wine.

I think fresh flowers really make you feel like you’re in a special place.

Give yourself a facial. — AP