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Ready for Your Own Vacation Home? Here Is What to Look For

Vacation Homes: Fun, Relaxing, and Attuned To Nature


With so many home plan designs to suit your lifestyle … and a real estate market that’s easing up, there’s never been a better time to consider a vacation home. Just imagine summer breezes on the front porch, a gentle wind rocking the hammock and swings, and a warm glow from the fireplace in the winter.  Whether your style is whimsical, charmingly eccentric or rustic, a vacation home must be fun, relaxing, and attuned to nature and the environment.

Traditional porch with rocking chairs in summer.

Sit and enjoy a summer afternoon on the delightful porch (above) of this beautiful two-story, three-bedroom country home (below) with an open floor plan, a grilling patio and fireplace. (Plan #153-1871).

Vacation country home with porch (153-1871)


Rustic vacation cabin with natural wood siding looking out on a lake

Plan #160-1009 is an inviting cabin with plenty of windows for exuberant displays of light. The home features ten skylights and several clerestory windows allowing a flood of light to illuminate the space. A large covered deck and an upper sun deck create plenty of outdoor views. Take advantage of the daylight basement option for plenty more space and another level of scenery.


6 Tips for the Ideal Vacation House

Here is a checklist as you prepare to jump into the market for a second home… and live in your perfect vacation house.

You may choose a beachfront home design, a mountain or log cabin, a country cottage, or simple getaway retreat… but the experience must be enjoyable. Remember that the smaller, more casual vacation homes are places to kick off your shoes, sit on the porch and relax, watch the sunset, listen to the ocean, or revel in a moonlit night.

1.  You’ve heard it before: location, location, location.  Get to know the neighborhood around your property – and not just the other homes and owners, but stores, local markets, restaurants, coffee shops. Make sure the vacation house is within a reasonable distance from your year-round home, so that getting to it does not cause stressful situations.

2.  Views, natural light and foliage are key considerations.

3.  Lots of windows around the property to highlight those views.

4.  Porches, fireplaces, back patios give the home a feel of relaxation.

5.  Open living areas are great for family fun, and social interaction with friends and guests.

6.  Does your vacation home have vacation rental potential? If it does, then this may be a great way to reduce or cover your vacation homes operating expenses during the time you are not there. Renters often pay a premium for amenities like a hot tub or fireplace and convenient access to either the beach or ski slopes.

Two-story, three bedroom lakefront home on a sloping lot

The two-story, three bedroom lakefront home has lots of windows that provide an abundance of natural light (above). The home has a front and rear porch (below) as well as a sunroon (Plan #168-1011).

Rear patio with outdoor fireplace in the woods

 beautiful two-story, four-bedroom home

A cozy living room opens into the sundeck of this beautiful two-story, four-bedroom home (above and below). Light seeps through the many windows that allow perfect views of the outside world.

Vacation home (126-1250)

great views from the porch of this rustic two-story home

Check out the great views from the porch (above) of this rustic two-story, four bedroom mountain style ranch (below).

  Country Home 163-1048


Vacations and Vacation Homes: An Early Perspective

During the early 19th century, vacations were limited to the upper crust of society. Only wealthy families owned second homes and enjoyed the luxury of recreational travel. Customarily, these families moved to a summer home to take a break from the oppressive heat of the hot months.     

The advent of industrialization and the demands of work on individuals and families made it necessary for the rest of the population to take a break from the rigors of their daily routines and have some fun.


Sunday Houses: The Beginnings of Weekend Getaways

Present-day vacation house plans can trace some of their origins to “Sunday Houses”- second homes constructed near churches in the late 17th century.  The homes belonged to farmers and ranchers who lived in rural areas that were quite remote from the town – therefore, making it almost impossible to commute to church services.

Having a weekend house in town allowed these families to take a break from their daily chores and routines. With a house in town, the families were able to attend church, do some trading, go to social events, and participate in various activities with other residents. 

The Sunday Houses, made of frame or rock, were small – ranging from one-story to one-and-half-story dwellings with a single room or just two rooms - with space for a sleeping attic for children. Occasionally, the families would build an outside stairway to get to the children’s quarters. The main floor featured a lean-to kitchen for preparing meals and a fireplace to provide heat. 

Sunday Houses were quite popular in some areas of the U.S., especially in states where the Dutch and Germans settled.  In the late 1800s, German immigrants in the Texas Hill Country built Sunday Houses - and many of them are still around. Several of these early weekend retreats are shown below.

Sunday House at the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg, TX

A typical Sunday House in Fredericksburg, TX with a covered porch. This one is located at the Pioneer Museum. (photo credit: Pi3.124 under CC BY-SA 4.0).


Walter-Jenschke Sunday House

The Vogel Sunday House was built in halves by German immigrant Christian Vogel and his son. The elder Vogel constructed the left side; and his son enlarged the house with additions to the right side of the structure. The Knopp House was built in 1871 of  what was described as “native stone.” The Knopp family bought this home, which was located about a mile from their farm. The Walter-Jenschke Sunday House is shown above (photo credit: Darrylpearson under CC BY-SA 4.0).


And so we move from the Sunday Houses of the 1800s to the modern vacation homes of the 21st century. One defining feature remains constant: these homes serve as retreats from the pressures and routines of daily living … and they can be simple, minimalist, elegant, quaint and cozy as you please … and above all, fun and relaxing!


Wouldn’t you love one of these homes to call your own?  


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