Choosing the Right House Design for Family Travel

Polygon House, Skiathos, Greece, P9 Arch Studio

Author : Nicole D. Garrison

Families who have the means often build vacation homes, usually at the beach or on a lake. These are places for the entire family and guests to gather and enjoy the outside and weather. Still, others, who enjoy winter sports, build or rent houses near the mountains for skiing, snowboarding, etc. Those who are unable to build their own vacation homes still have options other than hotels and resorts.

The explosion of home rentals for vacations was inevitable. Couples and families have found them preferable to hotels for a number of reasons:

  • They do not have to “live” by the hotel’s schedule – check-in; check out; getting out of the room so that the housekeepers can come in and clean, etc.
  • They have the environment of a real home, not just a room. There is space for everyone to spread out and have “alone” time, as well as gather together.
  • There is a real kitchen so that decisions can be made about cooking in or eating out.
  • When kids are involved in a vacation, having a home allows a family environment that is more relaxed and certainly more flexible, to meet their needs (youngsters who need that afternoon nap; teens who want to be in their rooms and on their devices; honoring food choices of picky eaters, etc.).

While all of this began with Airbnb, the industry of vacation home rentals has expanded exponentially in the past several years and is now a huge industry worldwide.

Whether you are planning to build your own vacation home or travel to a variety of different places and take advantage of vacation rentals, it is important that you think carefully about the design you want for a family – one that includes provision for the current ages of the kids, when you are renting. If you are building, you must plan for the future, when those kids are older and have different needs.

So, let’s unpack the most important vacation design considerations, whether you are building or renting.

  • An open floor plan is best for the gathering areas – living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. Younger children will not feel isolated from other family members if they can see them.
  • Older children have their devices. And they can be noisy when all are in use by 2-3 kids. A separate room can provide them with a place to play video games or chat with friends online, giving adults space for their own peace and quiet.
  • A number of bedrooms is important too. Ideally, every child will have his/her own bedroom, because this allows private time when wanted or necessary. Younger children need naps in a quiet place, where others will not disturb them. Older children want their privacy for other reasons, and that need should be honored if possible.
  • A medium-sized family really needs two bathrooms, especially if some of the kids are older. If not possible, there should be 1 ½ at least. Otherwise, there may be some frustration and conflict.
  • Homes in colder climates should ideally have a fireplace in the common area – a perfect place to gather after skiing or other snow activities.
  • A full kitchen is another essential. Eating out all the time gets old for everyone; what’s more, it is expensive. And how many kids are really ready to go out for breakfast, for example? Having a well-stocked kitchen and all the appliances that you have at home means that meals can include everyone’s favorites. While vacationers certainly plan to eat out, it’s nice to have the option of cooking in when everyone is tired, sandy, and just wanting to chill.
  • Outdoor areas are as important as indoors, especially in warm sunny vacation spots. Patios and/or decks for leisure and grilling. If there is a pool, all the better, plus plenty of yard space for young children to romp.

Building Your Own Vacation Home

You want to begin with an architect or construction company that is highly reputable. Once you have made that selection, you cannot be shy or timid about what you want and need. You know your family best and its behaviors/preferences. Make these known, and actively participate in all of the details of the plan. You will probably have to become a bit of an expert on at least the basics of home construction too. What do you know about insulation, windows, options for alternative energy sources, or tankless water heaters, for example? You will feel almost like a subcontractor at times.

Renting a Vacation Home

This is a matter of doing your research and choosing one that meets your family’s needs and wants. You want a full description of the property and photos. Just be certain that the descriptions match the photos. Then, all that is left is checking references to ensure that others have had good experiences with this home and the owners.

Having a Look at Some Designs

Take a look at ArchiTravel’s house entries here to have an idea on modern architecture designs and decide about your needs.


Family vacations are too precious and too seldom for them to go awry. Usually, families take one major vacation a year, and it needs to be a wonderful experience for everyone. Accommodations are critical. If every family member does not feel comfortable and that their desires are not being met, the vacation can be a disaster. When you plan your vacation destination, understand that where you choose to stay is critical.

Featured Image : Polygon House, Greece by P9 Arch Studio © P9 Arch Studio

About this Author : Nicole D. Garrison