Vacation Home Updates

As the popularity of vacation rentals continues to rise — Airbnb boasts more than 24,000 listings in the United States alone — people are investing in their own home away from home. And because you can’t stay at your getaway all year long, renting that beach house, ski slope-adjacent condo, or quiet mountaintop cabin is a logical, economical choice for many vacation-home owners.



Grand Opening, Grand Closing

Whether it’s your first season or your 20th, a well-maintained vacation home shouldn’t take more than a day to get in shape, assuming no major repairs are needed. Home Logic offers a great checklist to guide you through opening and closing your home.

If your rental is convenient to your residence, maintenance will be less of an issue. Likewise for performing host duties for guests. But if your property is too far away, hiring a caretaker whom you trust will be essential. The Vacation Rental Management Association offers a seemingly endless supply of resources for property managers and owners alike, from industry trends to business best practices, and is the perfect place to begin your search for a caretaker to manage your property.

Second only to location, amenities can make or break a vacation rental’s comfort and, therefore, its popularity. Here are a few must-haves that will make your cozy condo rival that four-star resort at the other end of the beach.


Kitchen + Utility

Since you likely won’t be offering room service to guests, a kitchen or kitchenette stocked with the essentials will make their stay a bit more homey. Here are seven must-haves for a great little kitchen.


(Clockwise from top left) Mix and match thrift shop dishware finds, or stock up on a set or two when you see them on sale. Choose shatterproof melamine or Corelle® and eliminate worry about broken dishes. Stock up on cooking essentials such as a good set of pots and pans, utensils, spices and other dry ingredients. A high-tech countertop microwave is a do-it-all requirement, especially if other kitchen resources are limited. A stacking washer and dryer set is great for guests and even better for you. Basic utility items such as a broom, dust bin, trash bags and cleaning supplies (include everything you would want on-hand when you reset the home between guests). Set up a coffee and tea bar with a simple Keurig® and all the usual accoutrements. Space-saving seating like a dinette set with benches or a built-in banquette is a perfect multi-use addition.


Living Room

Imagine you’ve just arrived at your beachside bungalow. The forecast was great … until it wasn’t! There’s always the possibility that foul weather will keep your guests stuck inside for a day. A well-appointed living room is an ideal way to save the day.


Begin with comfy furniture such as a space-maximizing sectional or sleeper sofa in a durable, easy-to-clean fabric. Add ample lighting with lamps and overhead fixtures, and complete your seating area with a sizable coffee table or side tables. Entertainment options are more affordable than ever; a connected entertainment hub is a priceless amenity for guests, bad weather or not. Start with strong Wi-Fi and a charging station for phones and other devices (bonus points for supplying extra cords). Add a flat-screen TV with entertainment apps like Netflix or an Apple TV, a PlayStation® that doubles as a DVD player, and maybe even an old-school Nintendo®! And for a little analog entertainment, stock a bookcase with games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Connect Four, as well as a few card games. And, of course, no well-stocked bookcase is complete without books.


Bedroom & Bathroom

When it comes to the guest bed and bath, consider one word: Overstocked. Whether guests are staying a couple of days or a couple of weeks, having a linen closet that rivals a small Bed, Bath & Beyond is certain to make life easier. Be sure to have at least one extra set of sheets for each bed in the home, as well as a few bonus blankets and pillows. In the bath, provide plenty of hand towels and washcloths, and have two bath towels per guest per day on hand. If storage is limited, make sure guests know how to contact you in advance for additional linens.

For additional amenities, take a cue from the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in. An empty closet stocked with hangers, an iron and ironing board, and a luggage rack make the packing and unpacking part of the trip so much easier. Offer travel-size sets of toiletry must-haves like soap, lotion, facial cleanser, shampoo and conditioner.

What’s Cooking in the High-Tech Kitchen?

From hands-free faucets to WiFi-enabled refrigerators, the latest technology has upped the ante when it comes to the high-tech kitchen. Ahead, some of the most innovative appliances that do everything from letting you watch your soufflé bake from the inside of the oven to watching a how-to recipe video while you try your hand at crafting the perfect béarnaise sauce.


Building upon the innovation of the Family Hub refrigerator, Samsung’s Chef Collection brings thoughtful technology to a pro-level suite of built-in cooktops, ranges, wall ovens, hoods, dishwashers and refrigerators. The Chef Collection line brings many innovative features to the built-in category, including View Inside cameras, which lets users see inside their refrigerator from anywhere, and induction cooktops with Virtual Flame technology, which gives the visual of gas cooking. Bluetooth capabilities allow the ventilation hoods to adjust fan settings based on the amount of heat coming from the cooktop below. WiFi connectivity gives the home chef seamless control and monitoring of the cooking process via smartphone.


Energy efficient and easy to install, the Eco-Lucent LED lighting system from Federal Brace has color-changing lights that are perfect for under-cabinet task lighting. The system consists of an aluminum channel that houses the LED light strip with a frosted cover, and is easily installed with 3M strips. An infrared remote provides complete control over the system, from selecting the colors—there are 16 to choose from—to adjusting the light variations.


Kohler’s Sensate touchless faucet offers a hands-free experience for a cleaner, more hygienic kitchen environment. Sensate’s intuitive Response® technology is ready to follow your move: a wave of a hand—or an object such as a pan or utensil—turns it on or off. The Sweep® spray creates a wide, strong blade of water for superior cleaning, while Kohler’s new docking system, DockNetik, secures the pull-down spray head to the spout magnetically.


Interactivity and sharing life’s moments are just two uncommon advantages of GE’s over-the-range kitchen hub. This 27-inch smart screen can communicate with other connected appliances including GE-brand washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, wall ovens and, of course, ranges. Scheduled for release later this year, the kitchen hub will feature live video chat functionality with multiple camera angles, a cooktop-facing camera and ample task lighting (hello, amazing Instagram photos), access to family calendars and schedules, and endless recipes and cooking resources. Over-the-air updates keep the kitchen hub current and in tune with the latest features.


Hey, June! The world’s only intelligent convection oven, June boasts Adaptive Cook Presets, an internal camera and Food ID technology that promise to cook your food perfectly every time. With the ability to convection bake, broil, roast, slow cook, toast, air fry, dehydrate, keep warm and reheat, June can cook anything. And with June’s mobile app, you can control your oven from anywhere, watch your food being cooked and be notified when your meal is ready. The app also features easy to follow, step-by-step video recipes.

Beast Mode: All-American grills, smokers and more for backyard cooking

Last month we shared some of the latest in outdoor kitchen design—countertops and flooring, cabinets and islands. Now, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest made-in-America grills and appliances that will instantly up your backyard cooking game. 


Beachy outdoor kitchen with Kalamazoo Hybrid Grill, ventilation and cabinets and refrigeration. The focal point of this compact but powerful outdoor kitchen is Kalamazoo’s 51-inch-wide Hybrid Fire Grill. The brand’s largest grill, the Hybrid Fire Grill offers the ability to cook with gas, charcoal, wood or a combination of the three, putting any backyard cooking style well within reach, whether it’s “low and slow” barbecue or intense, searing heat in excess of 1,000 degrees. The cooking zone also includes a double cooktop and ventilation hood, with refrigerators bookending the space. Handcrafted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.


Inspired by the “live fire” cooking traditions of Spain and Argentina, Grillworks’ 42-inch Asador Grill is the hands-down ultimate in wood-fire grills. Grillworks’ signature crankwheel-controlled system adjusts the surface height, while the Floating Fire Brick™ rear heat shields provide maximum durability and heat handling. Hand-welded of stainless steel, the grill features a heavy-duty rotisserie and is equipped with commercial castors or rubber turf tires for ease of movement outdoors. In a word? MAJOR. Made in Michigan.


It’s not delivery, it’s a homemade pizza cooked to perfection in your new 30-inch Napoli Outdoor Oven™ from Lynx. With a specially-formulated concrete refractory interior dome and 400-square-inch cooking surface, this is one very versatile oven. It preheats quickly to 700 degrees, and the cooking surface pulls out for easy access to food—from cookies and casseroles to bruschetta, flatbreads and, of course, pizza. Shown here atop the Lynx mobile kitchen cart, the Napoli Outdoor Oven can also be used as a freestanding countertop appliance or as a built-in outdoor kitchen oven. Made in Southern California.

PK Grills‘ Original charcoal grill and BBQ smoker boasts an impressive 310-square-inch cooking space that will accommodate even a Thanksgiving turkey. The Original PK’s unique shape is ideal for both direct and indirect heating, known as two-zone cooking, while the 4-Point Venting System provides exceptional air flow inside the grill capsule. Keeping consistent heat on a charcoal grill has never been easier. Crafted of thick cast aluminum, the grill is easily removed from its cart. The PK stands for “portable kitchen,” making it great for backyard cooking, camping, tailgating and more. Made in Arkansas.


Now it’s a party! Create a customized Perlick outdoor beverage center that will accommodate the tastes of every guest. The design shown here features Perlick Signature Series appliances, including a 24-inch Signature Series freezer, 15-inch refrigerator drawers, a 24-inch beer dispenser, and a pair of 24-inch dual-zone refrigerators/wine reserves. Made in Milwaukee.

The Evo Professional Wheeled Cart grill is a unique way to feed a crowd at your next get-together. The solid cook surface is 30 inches in diameter, constructed from black steel and oil-seasoned to provide a heavy-duty cooktop. Easy control of the inner and outer burners ensures 650 square inches of edge-to-edge cooking space. By cooking foods directly on the cook surface, you can sear, sauté, grill, toast and stir fry. Indirectly, you can use pots or pans to boil, braise, poach or steam. The heavy-duty stainless steel lid lets you roast, steam, warm, or smoke foods and also features an adjustable vent that exhausts steam and vapors while cooking. Made in Minnesota.


Photos: courtesy vendors. 

Party in the Back: Build a better space for outdoor entertaining

Summer is here, and that means heading outside for pool parties, cookouts and all-around fun. And whether you’re just beginning to plan an outdoor kitchen or ready to upgrade your existing space, consider these essential building blocks for creating an outdoor entertaining area you’ll enjoy and want to share all summer (and beyond).



Detail photo of outdoor kitchen countertops, flooring and stacked stone panels that make up the island
Some of your favorite indoor surfaces — think quartz, granite, marble or travertine — are equally suited for outdoor living. Above, this kitchen features Tuscany Beige travertine pavers, Babylon Gray quartz countertops and Rustic Gold RockMount stacked stone panels for the cabinet base’s exterior. (
MSI Stone)


Modern outdoor kitchen arranged in a half moon layout with light gray pavers and black tiles

For the minimalist who wants elevated design and clean, smooth lines, Techo-Bloc’s Industria collection of pavers is teamed up with the company’s newest finish, HD 2. The smooth Para HD 2 stone pavers, shown here in Greyed Nickel, create a sleek pathway to the kitchen space. The large pavers transition to the long, thin Industria rectangles — also in Greyed Nickel — set in a half-moon floor that echoes the kitchen’s curved design. Industria pavers in Onyx Black are nestled atop large river rocks and provide another pathway from the kitchen to adjacent outdoor entertaining areas. (Techo-Bloc)


Cambria USA Roxwell quartz beauty photos with an arrangement of cut citrus.

Outdoor countertops should meet all of the same requirements they do indoors, as well as be able to stand up to the elements. Natural quartz, shown here in the Roxwell pattern by Cambria®, is a strong choice. Not only is quartz remarkably durable — even more than marble or granite — it is maintenance-free, nonporous and nonabsorbent, making it ideal for food prep and meals. (Cambria)


Cabinets & Islands

Not unlike the aforementioned surfaces, today’s outdoor kitchen cabinet options are as elegant and modern as the most upscale interior cabinets. NatureKast offers truly modern and totally weatherproof options, from the PVC cabinet and drawer boxes to the resin used to create the door and drawer fronts that look and feel like real wood.

NatureKast Contempo Door Style Cabinets Arctic Slate finish in a rustic contemporary outdoor kitchen NatureKast outdoor kitchen cabinets in the Louver and Slab door styles in a Silver Birch finish

The new Contempo door style, shown here (top) in Arctic Slate, is a transitional design that is equally at home in a modern space or a rustic, farmhouse-style space. A combination of slab and louvered door styles in the Silver Birch finish (above) contrasts with the darker finish of the flooring and the solid wood beams overhead, and imparts an upscale coastal cottage vibe to the heart of this outdoor entertaining space. (NatureKast)


John Michael Kitchens Modern Marine Blue Flat Panel Cabinets with Wolf stainless steel grill.

John Michael Kitchens — makers of some of the most luxurious outdoor kitchens around — uses marine-grade 316L stainless steel for all of their handmade cabinets. Resistant to rust and corrosion, marine-grade stainless steel offers weatherproof protection in any environment, not just coastal areas. Available with two door styles (Shaker-style inset doors or flat-front panels, shown above) and more than a dozen colors, including Marine Blue, shown here. (John Michael Kitchens)


John Michael Kitchens Trio Freestanding Stainless Steel Outdoor Kitchen Components

An emerging trend in outdoor kitchen design is the freestanding mobile kitchen or mobile cart. From a chef’s prep station to storage cabinets to even a pizza oven cart, the options from John Michael Kitchens all feature the same heavy duty marine-grade stainless steel used to handcraft the brand’s built-in cabinets. Add low-profile casters that are virtually undetectable, and you’re on the move to becoming a backyard chef. (John Michael Kitchens)


Outdoor Kitchen Island with wood faced cabinets and VIking Stainless steel grill and appliances

Outdoor kitchen packages from Viking® are available as pre-configured designs based on the brand’s stainless steel outdoor kitchen cabinets. With island, angled and straight-lined layouts, and from four to eight cabinets, Viking’s outdoor kitchen packages are designed to accommodate their award-winning grills, warming drawers, side burners and more. (Viking)

Stay tuned for our July guide to American-made grills, smokers and other outdoor cooking essentials. In the meantime, learn how a folding door system can open up your home to all of the possibilities that outdoor entertaining has to offer.


Photos courtesy of vendors. 

Outdoor Living Spaces: A light-filled home blurs the line between indoors and out

Maximize outdoor living spaces with patio doors that extend the comforts of home to the backyard and beyond.

In a home filled with windows, Jenni Rahrig has one that she loves a little more than the others. “My favorite window in the entire house is the sliding patio door. I use it all day, every day,” she says.


When Jenni and her husband Jeff began looking for a new residence a few years ago, they realized that, to achieve the amount of natural light they desired, building a new home trumped undertaking a renovation. The couple worked with Grandfather Homes in Charlotte, North Carolina, to create their dream home.

The Rahrigs’ home is a great example of the builders’ signature style. “We consider it traditional yet progressive architecture,” says Missy Bagley, sales representative with Grandfather Homes. “We want our homes to feel familiar and comfortable, yet gracious and well-appointed.”


The couple’s style is wonderfully modern, with light being one of the most important elements in the design. “We knew from the beginning that windows would be a big part of the home,” Jeff says, and Jenni agrees. “Light is so important to our design aesthetic, and we wanted to make sure we maximized the amount of light that we had coming into our home.”


Through these doors lies one of Jenni’s favorite spots in the home—the covered terrace and the pool. “It’s just beautiful,” she says of the outdoor living space. Jeff and Jenni chose Custom™ wood JELD-WEN patio doors, which allowed them to customize the interior and exterior color of the doors. JELD-WEN patio doors are made for blurring the lines between indoors and out.

Once the exact placement of the home on the lot was determined, the team at Grandfather Homes extended the back of the floor plan to maximize the outdoor living space and poolscape. This allowed for the great room to naturally transition — almost vanish — into the covered terrace. 


Covered terrace overlooking a swimming pool

Overlooking the pool, the covered terrace has a broom-finished concrete floor and stained wood ceiling, which is accented by cedar-wrapped columns. The terrace is outfitted with clean-lined furniture in a neutral hue that blends with the surrounding space; orange cushions give the décor just the right amount of color.


During the day, the patio is a welcome respite after soaking up the sun in the pool, and in the evening it’s made for dinner and drinks for two or more. “It was such a pleasure to work alongside Jeff and Jenni to design their dream home,” Missy says. “We are so proud of this home and trust their family will enjoy it for years to come!”

Jeff and Jenni’s home offers major design inspiration at every turn. To see the full home tour, visit Grandfather Homes’ portfolio.


Side Yards with Serious Curb Appeal

Design a passageway that transitions your home’s landscape style from the front yard to the back

Long and narrow, wide and wild, short and sweet: Side yards come in all shapes and sizes. Make the most of this sometimes-overlooked space with design elements that create a seamless transition between your home’s outdoor style from the front yard to the back. Whether you start from scratch with new landscaping or reinvent your current space, a well-designed side yard will elevate your home’s curb appeal.

Classic Modern Beach Cottage with Green Shutters Brick Patio Curb Appeal JELD WEN Doors Windows
Short and sweet! For such a tiny space, this verdant cottage packs major design inspiration. The absence of a traditional side yard invites creativity, and instead of a grassy area the primary surface here is brick pavers laid in a classic herringbone pattern. A lush strip of grass partially divides the surface, leading the eye first to the container installation and on to the simple wood-slat gate. Shrubs and ornamental grasses, as well as the charming window boxes, complete the space.
Slightly offset and asymmetrical, this modern walkway of oversized stone tiles set atop a bed of river rocks makes a strong visual impact. The path stretches the length of this Texas home, and is framed on one side by a living wall. A towering privacy fence could impart a tunnel-like look and feel, but a swath of golden bamboo keeps the passage airy and inviting. The bamboo, which can grow 30 to 60 feet tall, obscures an existing fence and brings movement and texture to the walkway. Steve Nedd, owner of Outer Image Design, says of the design: “We use [natural elements like the bamboo] when there is close proximity to adjacent properties—it’s great for maintaining an open feel in a tight space.”


This Mediterranean-style California estate is replete with gardens, including this spacious side yard. A wooden bench is flanked by a pair of young trees, creating the perfect spot for relaxation. The surrounding beds of flowering plants are ready to burst into a riot of color. The rustic walkway is accented with lantern-style landscape lights that are a design element during the day, and provide a safe, illuminated path after dark. Designed and installed by Torrey Pines Landscape Company in San Diego, the home’s gardens and outdoor living spaces were chosen as an editor’s pick in HGTV’s 2018 Ultimate Outdoor Awards. The category? Picturesque Landscapes.
wall planter for side yard filled with leafy green plants
Whether space is tight or time is limited, a quick and easy way to add visual appeal to a side yard space is with a wall planter. Installed on the exterior of your home, wall planters are available in all shapes, sizes and materials. This Jamie Durie Planter Blanket from Pottery Barn is an impressive 47.25 inches wide and 43.5 inches high, with eight large and two small plant pockets. For a small space, one large planter creates an eye-catching work of natural art. Large areas will be transformed with groups of three or more planters arranged on your home’s exterior and even on an adjacent fence.
For more outdoor inspiration, our patio door gallery is filled with unique views.