Your New Holiday Home: How To Achieve The Perfect Design

The sun has decided, finally, to show itself after what seems like years of rain and grey skies. Thus, our thoughts are invariably gently turning to holidays in sunny parts, or even retirement. We are thinking of a holiday home… some beautiful French chateau, an Italian villa, Spanish finca. But first, one has to find it.

Buying A Holiday Home

Now, if you are buying a holiday home, always think to the future – say 5-10 years. Will this end up being your forever home, where you finally up sticks and have the children and grandchildren visiting you for their summer holidays? Or just a place for the odd week or two? Will you be using it in the winter for Christmas?

Most importantly, think of what you need in a holiday home. Things to consider are:

  1. Number of bedrooms.
  2. Flow of the house – is the ground floor one huge open space or is it separate spaces?
  3. Grounds – how big are they?
  4. Space for a pool – plus, additional space so that once the pool is done, it has not become the dominant feature of the grounds.
  5. Functional spaces – is there space for the adults, space for the children, space to rent out to gain income?
  6. The view – oh yes, the view is the most important bit as far as we’re concerned.
  7. Security – you will not be there all the time, so you need to make sure the building is secure when you are not there.

Most southern European countries have lots of choice when it comes to a holiday home. Sometimes, however, you find that perfect location but there is no property there – or it is in such a state that it can never be repaired and it’s best to knock it down and start again.

Holiday Home With A View

Buying An Existing Property For A Holiday Home

Let’s start with an existing property. It’s likely to be fundamentally sound, but you will want to put your own stamp on it. It might not have a pool or landscaped grounds, or decent electrics… almost certainly no insulation either. It might not have enough bedrooms, but by working with a good Architectural Interior Design studio, it can be reworked to give you what you need.

Interiors and gardens are all about flow and spaces. In taking an existing property, a good Architectural Interior Designer studio, like London Contemporary, can work the space to work for you – removing walls, adding steels, installing walls where needed to break the space, adding bathrooms, bedrooms, as well as getting the colour and decoration scheme correct.

They can lay out the gardens so that they work for you as a household. And if you are lucky enough to have bought a property that has space for rentals, then they can help design that to appeal to the mass market to ensure you get the maximum return. They can ensure that it is designed so that everything is there, so that all you have to do is fly in and lie by the pool.

Holiday Home Pool

Now in all things, there are the gotchas. Like in any country, there are the cowboys and the professionals. Taking your favourite swimming pool installer from Southampton to install a pool in France will get you into a lot of trouble, for example.  Using a UK-based electrician in any European country will get you good electrics but nothing that is legal in those countries, as they all have their own standards.

At London Contemporary, we are experts at architectural interior design and have our own teams in most warm European countries. Our lead designer was recently featured on Gardeners’ World about his own personal garden that he designed. So we have the skills on hand to help you get the holiday home of your dreams.

Building Your Own Holiday Home

Perhaps you have fallen in love with a view and want to be known as “the folks who live on the hill” – thank you Peggy Lee, what a great song. The house has not been built yet, but the land is available and you have agreed a price. Now the first thing to remember, of course, is are you actually allowed to build on the land? Always check this before you buy! Remember, those cowboys are always around. A visit to the local Town Hall will clarify this for you. Don’t trust what the estate agent says, they just want to sell you the land.

With a new house, you will need to have good architectural interior designers who can design your space exactly as you want it. “What’s the difference between an Architectural Interior Design studio and an architect?” we hear you cry. A lot is the answer. An architect is good at making exteriors look good (think of The Shard) but the interiors tend to be bland and boring.

An Architectural Interior Design studio has the best of both worlds: in-house architects who do the exterior, with interiors teams who design the space you actually live in. They make sure the pipes, electrics and lighting go where you want to ensure the bedrooms and living spaces work perfectly. If this is not done correctly from the start, it can cause lots of problems later when you want to change something. Floor joists running the wrong way, for example, play havoc on redesigning a lighting or bathroom system in later years when your needs change.

Italian Holiday Home With Inner Courtyard

Do you know what sort of house design you are looking for? Is it an open courtyard Italian (Roman) design with an internal pond fed by the rainwater off the roof, with covered cloisters, or a Maison de Maître (French design) with shuttered windows and tall elegant sweeping staircases inside and out, or even something more modern and contemporary? A Spanish finca with its rambling rooms over many floors perhaps. 

If you don’t know what you want, but just have pictures in your mind, a good Architectural Design Studio like us can help turn your dream, thoughts or even just a picture from a magazine into a reality. We can draw up the plans, create renders so you can visualise the space, write the detailed specification for the construction teams, and select teams following the tender process.

Managing Your Holiday Home Project

Whether you’re buying an existing property or building your own, once the plans are done, the next stage is to employ good contractors to do the works and then manage them to make sure they stay on time, to budget, with the correct materials used.  Being able to manage this yourself is simply not a good idea. Unless you are in construction already, do not ever think you can do this task – you really can’t. Trying to do it will destroy you and your marriage faster than an MP can lie about their manifesto.

London Contemporary has helped many a client build their dream home abroad, from Amsterdam to Catalonia. Drop us an email at and let us talk you through how we can help you.