Vacation Home Plans

What follows are excerpts from “The Getaway Home”, written by Dale Mulfinger, and published by Taunton Press in 2004. Taunton Press

The Getaway Dream …


What is it that draws us to a home away from home…and keeps us coming back for more? For some, it’s the promise of a relaxing vacation; for others, the chance to pursue a favorite outdoor activity; and for all, it’s the opportunity to be in a place we love, doing the things we like best, with family and friends close at hand.

Everyone who yearns for a getaway home knows that it will look and feel different from a home in the city or suburbs. Because a getaway is typically built with discretionary income, there can be something liberating about its design. It may be fun and informal. Joy and whimsy aren’t just allowed, they’re encouraged. As a result, many of the design decisions are influenced by a desire for self-expression in a way that’s rarely possible in a home that has to mind its curb appeal and resale value.

Along with this freedom of expression, there are some common hallmarks that getaway homes share:

a getaway sits on land chosen for its magnificence, not for its convenience
a getaway’s views are central to the experience of being there
a getaway is a comfortable place for casual living
a getaway creates opportunities for magical experiences

the Land …

It begins with the setting. We build our getaways where we do because we love the terrain,  be it a craggy coastline or an expanse of rolling grassland, a place to relax or a base for skiing, hiking, or fishing. Hillside, lakeside, and mountain getaways are typically nestled into the landscape so they sit unobtrusively on the land rather than high on a hill. Coastal retreats are the exception, often perched high on the dunes or on a cliff to take in expansive views of the water.

One of the key things about a getaway is that it is “away,” and homeowners and their guests may travel many miles to get to these remote houses. Getting there is part of the fun. A long journey heightens a sense of anticipation as the final approach draws near. A curve in the long drive, a boulder transplanted from the woods to the entry, a tease of the view from the front door through to the back of the house…all help signal the pleasures that lie ahead.

Getaway homes are designed so homeowners can fully enjoy the pleasures of the land. The interweaving of indoor and outdoor spaces is critical to their successful design. Porches, verandas, patios, and courtyards all invite outdoor living and connect the inside of a getaway to the outside. Their position must be planned in response to the topography of the embracing land.

the View …

If the land is what draws us to a getaway home, more often than not it’s the view that makes us want to stay. In some settings, the view presents itself naturally. In others, you have to work a little harder to see it. The way a house is positioned on the land determines how well it captures the view. There are a couple of ways to optimize the views: one is to set the house at an angle; the other is to turn the house upside down.

the Place …

A getaway is a comfortable place, a casual place. It’s not your everyday home, not somewhere you’d expect to see fine china and fancy furniture on display. A getaway is a gathering place where everyone comes to relax, to enjoy each other’s company, and to create new memories of shared experience. This communal spirit affects every room in the house, from kitchens to living and dining spaces to sleeping areas.

Getaways tend to have modest kitchens where lots of shared cooking and eating takes place. At the end of the day when activities are over, husking corn or preparing the day’s catch turns into a social occasion. Sleeping spaces take many forms in a getaway. Living rooms, porches, and smaller buildings on the property become places where visitors can spend the night, and communal living takes precedence over privacy.

The Magic …

And, finally, there’s the magic. A getaway is a place for living close to nature, where you can see the stars, feel the night air, hear the ocean, and glimpse the local wildlife from a sleeping porch or viewing tower. Getaways fulfill our dreams of simpler times and simpler lives – from living in a log cabin to ending the day with an outdoor shower (or even roughing it in a home without running water).

A getaway is also a place where social pretension gives way to fun and frivolity, and this is often expressed in the home’s architectural details. Whether it’s a stair railing with a whimsical leaf cutout pattern or a tree trunk holding up a porch, this freedom of choice in the details allows a getaway to take on the owners’ personality more than any other home they’ve ever lived in. It’s just one more reason getaway owners can’t imagine spending their free time anywhere else than in their home away from home.


We highly recommend that you click on two boxes – the number of bedrooms you know you need, and one less bedroom. For example, if you need 4 bedrooms, click on the boxes next to 4 and next to 3. Otherwise you will not see homes where existing rooms on the lower, main, or upper levels might work perfectly well as a bedroom instead of as an office, study, etc.