From Downsizing to Vacation homes – Homeowners in Retirement are Making Big Changes

In Airbnb Design, Design Planning, Interior Design, Residential Design by Kendra ContrerasLeave a Comment

Christina Toole Sr Interior Designer

By Kendra Contreras,
Sr. Interior Designer
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In my four years of Online Interior Design, or “e-Design”, experience I have worked with countless homeowners who are either in retirement or approaching their retirement years. I have considered it a privilege to help them navigate through their changing goals and priorities for this season in their lives.

I’ve often found that my clients in this sector are undergoing big changes – as many are purchasing vacation or second homes, and still others are looking to downsize from their larger homes. Often when a homeowner downsizes, a portion of their budget is freed up which allows them the opportunity to make their new space all their own.

“Let’s not forget one of the best advantages of downsizing - living more simply and having more time on your hands because there is less to clean and care for!”Kendra Contreras

3 things to consider when downsizing into a smaller home

#1 Moving from a larger space to a smaller space will come with obvious compromises on existing items or extra storage space. This is a great opportunity to sell and give away any items that no longer have a use. Still I encourage my clients, for those items that are extra special to them, to prioritize incorporating them into the design.

#2 When downsizing to a smaller home, some of my client’s actually need to purchase replacements for furniture items that they already own. Those coming from larger homes typically own larger pieces of furniture. A smaller space can still provide an exceptionally comfortable living environment, albeit with smaller pieces that work well in the scale of the home. Moving into a smaller home is the perfect opportunity to have a professional involved with space planning to help maximize smaller living quarters.

#3 Let’s not forget one of the best advantages of downsizing - living more simply and having more time on your hands because there is less to clean and care for! It's really an opportunity to live your best life!


4 things to consider when designing a second or vacation home:

#1 It sounds obvious, but it's important to remember that vacation homes or second homes require furniture too. Planning to use leftover furnishings or doing without needed pieces is not fully optimizing the investment that has been made in the home. Think of all of the items that make your current house a home – in truth you are going to require many of these same items in order to fully enjoy your second home.

#2 Dream big and embrace change. Often the vibe for a vacation space is something quite different from my client’s main home, offering them a true retreat. This is where my client’s and I collaborate and creative juices really flow as we work together to create a comfortable and enjoyable space. Sometimes these homes offer 'extras' that my client’s main home may not offer (think beach house, cabin, or lakehouse), but regardless the end goal for my client remains the same – to design a functional and comfortable space while bringing their design dreams to life.

#3 As there is additional money involved in the purchase and furnishing of a new vacation home, having a professional involved in the design process can help save money in the long run. Professional interior designers have access to trade discounts and can shop the best deals. We also use our expertise to help select items that will last (eliminating multiple purchases over time).

#4 Occasionally, vacation homes serve as a source of income as short-term rental properties as well. In order to compete with other homes on the market and maintain optimal occupancy while drawing in the highest rents possible, designing the space with a professional is imperative. An interior designer can make the difference in attracting clients who would pay top dollar. A designer can select furnishings and finishes that will last in a rental environment, delivering significant saving on replacement costs in the long term.

Layer Accessories Residential Design Tribe Online Interior Design

Whether downsizing or purchasing a vacation property, I have found that most of my clients in retirement want to own pieces of quality and special items that have always been on their wish lists. They are in search of comfort, simplicity, and easy living styles, no matter their taste.

As an e-Designer, I have successfully helped dozens of clients realize their design dreams, and love working with this sector of clients from all areas of the world.  Working with clientele who are in life transition is a thoughtful process that I take extra care with.

 If you are interested about taking your space to the next step, I'd like to invite you to reach out to me. I’d love to learn more about your design goals in an online consultation.


Kendra Contreras was formally educated at Colorado State University with an accredited degree in Interior Design. She is NCIDQ certified and has spent the majority of her career designing for high-end hospitality brands, including Wynn Resorts, Marriott, Hardrock, Harrahs/Caesars properties, multi-million dollar vacation homes, and mid to high-end home design remodels.

Areas of Specialty:
Residential Design
Airbnb Vacation Design
Restaurant and Hospitality Design

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