Summer Escape: a guide to country & summer houses
Packing your bags and escaping from that busy city lifestyle to a summer or country house is one of the most exciting summertime pleasures. Waking up to a bright sky and bird sounds, in a house amongst a field of wildflowers is a uniquely happy feeling. But it is more than just an aesthetic, summer & country houses have a culture of their own. In 2020, hashtags such as #cottagecore and #countryliving saw a 153% jump, and are now counting more than 600 million views on TikTok and 8 million posts on Instagram. Living in “fast-paced societies” makes us long for simplicity, and summer & country living have been an attractive way to revert back to slow living. Though they have a common purpose, summer & country homes have distinctive aesthetics and cultural aspects that differ across countries.
Picture this: a rustic country house surrounded by olive trees in the French Provence, a British cottage with its garden table covered in blossom, a sunny colored Danish summer house beside a vast white sand beach. But how can brands best use these cultural and aesthetic differences whilst still playing on the rising “escapism” and “country living” trend? VOCAST gathered insights from four different markets, to help you navigate through the summer & country homes trend.
Denmark: Summer House Hygge
With more than 200,000 summer houses across the country, summer houses are an integral part of the Danish lifestyle and come in many shapes and sizes. From cottages in gardens to modern houses in the dunes – whichever the type, Danish hygge is guaranteed. It is common for Danes to have a “second home” they can escape to during sunny weekends. In fact, from July 2021 to August 2021 there were more than 4 million overnight stays in Danish summer houses. Danes have summer houses all over the country, and often near the coast by the Danish Riviera, Bornholm, the West Coast, and Northern Jutland.
The traditional summer house style is described as romantic with “hygge” being at the center of the home – meaning that going to a summerhouse is about getting comfortable and being together around a fireplace during chilly evenings. Classic summer houses are usually one-story buildings made out of wood, with white windows – surrounded by a garden or dunes, as well as bikes. Since summer houses in Denmark are often considered “second homes”, the furniture, as well as the dishes and glassware, are often vintage and the furniture often gets passed on from generation to generation, rendering the interior very mixed when it comes to styles, with both vintage and new furniture. The interior is often simple with romantic pastel tones and light floral prints, as there needs to be much daylight and naturalness – and most importantly because Danish summer houses are about being casual and not wanting to “show off”.
France: Sophisticated Rural Living
From seaside houses by the cliffs in Normandy to rural country houses amongst lavender fields in Provence – France has a lot to offer when it comes to summer getaways. The charming countryside of Provence and the Côte d’Azur are amongst the most popular holiday regions in France, with a rise of 50% more summerhouse bookings in these regions in 2021. Summers in the South of France represents a true lifestyle – an afternoon of pétanque with friends, enjoying gourmet delicacies surrounded by the sounds of cicadas, and the most essential part; summer houses, which play an important role in the sophisticated “southern lifestyle”. One can quickly notice how French country houses represent a whole culture and a rising trend in itself – with blogs, magazines, and social media accounts being fully dedicated to French country living.
French country living is about slowing down, spending time with loved ones over long lunches and dinners, and letting nature “do its job”. Most French country houses are rural and made out of old stones, it is, therefore, essential to have a sober interior with furniture made out of marble and ceramic. Since French country houses are a family affair, much energy is put into finding the right interior furniture that does not disrupt the authenticity of the house and that has great value, families like to invest in valuable design pieces that will increase the authenticity of the house. The terrace is also an essential part of the house, it is the place where we reunite for breakfast or read a book and relax, many French country homes will have a large terrace either by the pool or with a view of the garden. Making it essential to have comfortable outdoor furniture, such as wooden lounge chairs and a long dining table.
The UK: Cottage Core and Rural Fantasy
Preceding the lockdown, a new lifestyle trend became increasingly present on all social media channels; cottage core. This is a lifestyle and aesthetic that has been attached to the English countryside, especially for encompassing the ideals of countryside living. British country living is a rising trend; it represents an authentic way of living far away from fast-paced cities and embraces naturalness which spells out coziness and rural life.
In the UK, there is no “summer house culture” rather, Brits go away on trips “to the country”. This means staying in sweet countryside cottages surrounded by nature, having long walks in your rubber boots, and going for picnics. With romanticism and nostalgia being at the core of English countryside life, British cottages have a cozy and inviting interior – such as pastel-colored furniture, natural indoor elements such as dried and fresh flowers (especially if they have been plucked from the garden), and wooden furniture such as wicker baskets. One of the main decorative elements of a British cottage is charming floral prints on the bed linen, rugs, and curtains. Floral prints enhance the old-fashioned, yet charming, side of the British cottage core aesthetic. Also, essential to this aesthetic is a dose of “historical inspiration” where tableware and teapots showing off “grandma vibes” fit fully within the British cottage core aesthetic.
The US: Beach Houses and Mountainside Cabins
Due to people having to work remotely and wanting to escape the daily hustle of urban areas, the vacation markets in the US have seen a real “boom” with many seeking secondary homes by the lakefront or even the mountains – the US has a large diversity when it comes to landscapes and charming spots, anyone can find a home that fits within their lifestyle interests whether it to be skiing, hiking or simply to relax at the beach.
The mountains in North Carolina and the beaches in Florida are amongst the top locations for holiday homes in the US. Although being in the same country, a vacation in a cabin by the mountain or in a beach house are highly different holiday experiences, that entail very distinctive cultural aspects and aesthetics. Cabin culture is highly popular and entails holidays by the mountains, located in remote areas where winter activities can be practiced such as skiing. Cabins have cozy interior aesthetics, such as vintage wooden furniture and lots of plushy pillows and blankets. In contrast, beach houses are more light and airy, with light wood and colors. Beach houses also reflect a more Scandinavian aesthetic and minimalist furniture is prioritized to create space and let the ocean breeze ventilate into the home.
Meet the summer & country living contacts
Denmark 🇩🇰 Det Lille Sorte
Sussie Frank is the woman behind Instagram account @detlillesorte, where she shares colorful content from her summerhouse.
Following on Instagram: 15K
Sarah Friis – Danish Lifestyle Researcher
France 🇫🇷 HOME Magazine
Ema Laurenzana, French Lifestyle Researcher
THE UK 🇬🇧 Steph Gowla
Following on Instagram: 103K
Georgina Juel, UK Lifestyle Researcher
THE US 🇺🇸 Sara & Rich Combs
Olivia Jensen, US Lifestyle Researcher
Facts & Figures
There are globally 115,000 vacation rental companies.
21% of all vacation rental properties are in the US; 60% are in Europe.
74% of travelers prefer to be on the coast.
51% of travelers prefer mountainous vacations.
The most googled home decor trends in 2021
Ema is the Lifestyle Researcher for the French market at VOCAST. She grew up in Brussels and previously worked with fashion PR. She is currently studying a master’s degree in international development and business and has a strong interest in sustainable and ethical practices within the fashion industry.
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