Hardy designed this Destin beach condo from our July 2017 issue to comment on its surroundings without going overboard with ocean-themed imagery. Photo courtesy By Design Interiors.

Let decorating an income property become an investment in style

Decorating a space for yourself can be hard enough without having to think about other people’s opinions, not to mention designing a space for other people’s opinions. Of course, that’s precisely the type of hard work that defines the expertise of interior designers, or anyone creating a space for someone else’s enjoyment.

With travel slowly making a comeback this summer, we may be seeing a lot more of the insides of other people’s houses for the first time in a long time (think Airbnbs or other vacation rentals), or even taking stock of long-empty income properties that’ll surely attract more vacationers in the upcoming months. Local designer Cati Hardy of By Design Interiors knows that balancing act well, having designed homes from suburban Baton Rouge to the beaches of Destin, and has learned to craft spaces that speak the languages of home and holiday with equal fluency. The key, she says, is to not let on that they are vacation properties in the first place.

“In the case of beach houses, for example, I try to stay away from anything cliché, like an abundance of seashells,” says Hardy. “You should, however, take stock of the area’s surroundings. If it’s a condo by the beach, I’d go for cooler colors in the paint and furniture and art. If it’s a forested lakehouse, I’d go warmer, just pulling local color from the landscape.”

Kermit Oliver’s “Faune et Flore du Texas (Wildlife and Plants of Texas)” scarf design for Hermès.

And remember: just because someone may not be living in a space every month of the year, that doesn’t mean that quality should fall to the wayside.

“Make sure to keep the pillows fluffy and the furniture comfortable,” says Hardy. “Don’t skimp on accessories and sophistication—use good fabrics and textures that you yourself would love to feel and see.”

Likewise, any artwork on the wall doesn’t have to be a literal duplication of what guests will see in the outside world; if you can see a mountain range outside, you don’t necessarily have to see it hanging above the sofa, too. Unless you play around with it a bit, that is.

“I stayed at an Airbnb outside Yellowstone once, and the owner collected these Hermès scarves which were put on display, all of them depicting American imagery of the West, from Indian leaders to wildlife,” says Hardy, referencing the works of Waco designer Kermit Oliver, the only American artist to have designed scarves for Hermès. “The art was commenting on Western themes, but doing it in an unexpected way.”

What we can expect? Plenty more hours perusing the Internet for our next great getaway, Hermès scarves not required.

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