Decorating the Dream

Photo © Seabrook Washington

How to make a second home your own

You’ve just made the leap and purchased a second home, a place to escape for a weekend or longer in a more tranquil setting. Now, you’re faced with the task of furnishing the space and making it your own: that comfy sofa by the fire, that chaise lounge on the deck, those artworks that resonate and conjure a sense of beauty and place.

It’s important that your new vacation home reflect your personality or its surroundings or a melding of the two. You’ve looked around the little town where you buy groceries and flip-flops, but it’s not like there’s a furniture store on every corner—or any corner. What’s a vacation homeowner to do?

“It can be really tough when you’re out of an urban area,” says Christopher Smith, owner of NW Home Interiors in Bend, Oregon, a mecca for leisure property owners. “As a second homeowner, you may be there for a finite amount of time. The challenge really comes down to sourcing the look that you want and being able to get it in the timeline you want. And when you get outside of the city, the choices often are so limited there aren’t even options.”

Yet, options do exist. Smith’s store is one of the exceptions: At 25,000 square feet, it has the volume to provide customers with a lot of choices. And, unlike the larger chain furniture stores that sometimes do find their way to small tourist towns, such as national rent-to-buy chains, the quality is high. And NW Home Interiors also provides interior design assistance. “That’s a big deal for second homeowners,” Smith says. “They’re pressed for time. Somebody in the family is probably still working. They don’t have time to manage their property. They need someone who can help them in the local area.”

What if your vacation getaway isn’t near a high-quality, large-selection store? Many find it’s helpful to work with a local interior designer with access to supply chains an ordinary customer doesn’t. For an initial investment that will probably be money well spent, they can get your home furnished relatively quickly without a stylistic compromise.

“I guess you would say we are the furniture store when working with our clients,” explains Jane Jincks, an interior designer and owner of Newport, Oregon’s Decorating Den Interiors, which is part of a national network of designers and, thus, can access a variety of products quickly. “All of our vendors are set up through our corporate office. We have everything for the home: furniture, accessories, artwork, window coverings, wall coverings, floor coverings. I have literally hundreds of vendors to choose from through my national accounts, something for every budget and style preference.”

Small-town Northwest locales can also be a place to find talented craftspeople and artisans, such as Christopher Burke Furniture and Architectural Woodwork in Friday Harbor on picturesque San Juan Island. “We have a lot of clients in the area who have kept us really busy,” says Burke, who relocated to San Juan Island 15 years ago, seeking a combination of natural beauty and an appreciative clientele. He cites the many tech industry workers who have retired to the area or built second homes, and even a smattering of celebrities such as rock musician Steve Miller, for whom Burke built several works. “We do everything from the furniture to the case goods to the cabinet work. And we’re not alone. There’s all kinds of craftsmen up here who do pottery and stained glass work. They stay real busy.”

For those willing to look, there are always a few gems to be found in local shops. Have a vacation home in Eastern Washington or Idaho to soak up the rolling hills and forests? Try Metro Eclectic in Spokane for a variety of vintage and midcentury-modern furnishings and housewares. Tracing the path of Lewis & Clark down the Columbia River? Try Astoria Vintage Hardware for a variety of architectural salvage and home furnishings. Becoming a beachcomber on the Oregon Coast? Check out Barron’s Home Furnishings in Harbor for full design and furnishing services. Birdwatching your days away in the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge? Try SeaWorthy Home, located at Seabrook in Pacific Beach for décor, furnishings and design services perfect for your beach house.