Ways to turn a second home into a laid-back haven

A bungalow on the beach. A cabin for weekend getaways.

Second homes, designed for relaxation, are often decorated with hand-me-down furniture and other cast-offs from the owner’s main living space.

But, say interior designers, a bit of creativity can transform a small vacation home into the perfect haven: a place to combine family heirlooms, funky flea-market purchases and a few new pieces, with style and on a budget.

“Second homes are all about the three F’s: family, friends and flea markets,” said designer Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of Flynnside Out Productions.

Here are some ideas for getting this laid-back, layered style:

Mix and match

A mix of decorating styles is great; just don’t overload the space, said HGTV host Sabrina Soto.

“Avoid overaccessorizing with knickknacks and space holders,” she said.

Go ahead and combine two plaid chairs with a floral sofa said Kyle Schuneman, author of “The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces.” He says to mix the scale of the patterns but keep the scale of the furniture the same.

“So if you have a small sofa, keep the side chairs in that same scale. Then with the fabric in the room, for instance, use a small pinstripe, a medium plaid and a large graphic pattern as your three mix-ins.

Color can also help one piece stand out: Paint an old wooden dresser a bold yellow, Schuneman said, then “keep the other pieces muted with just textures of metals and woods.”

Flea market finds

Second homes are often in small towns with weekend flea markets and antiques shops. Flynn suggests mixing your own family hand-me-downs (your grandfather’s old reading chair, say, or your dad’s collection of “Hardy Boys” books, or a painting made by a relative) with flea-market purchases that connect with your personal history.

A vintage item picked up for $5 can sometimes become the star of a room.

“My living room walls are completely covered with flea-market art picked up for next to nothing. Best part? Everyone always asks me what gallery I source all of my amazing art from,” Flynn said.

Maximize small rooms

Second homes are often small, so decorate with that in mind.

“A cluttered space will always appear smaller,” Soto said, so keep a smaller room clean. She suggests hanging shelves to keep items off the floor, and using mirrors to make rooms appear larger and brighter.

“Incorporate pieces with dual purpose, such as storage ottomans, which can act as seating while concealing your clutter,” she said. “Stacking chairs or nesting tables are great too.”

Local flavor

Schuneman suggests filling your weekend home with family photos but buying the frames locally, maybe something made by an artist or craftsman.

“Also, bringing in local flora like driftwood or maybe a stump or natural elements that bring the outside in really makes it feel like a destination home,” he said, “and for free.”

If the home has a nice view of mountains or water, Flynn suggests using a monochromatic palette inside to draw the eye outside. But if there is no view, it’s “ideal for going crazy with color,” he said.

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