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How to Design a Vacation Lifestyle Like the Novogratz

A new book peeks inside their bohemian getaway—and shares how to make your home an exotic escape.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen November 3, 2016

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Robert and Cortney Novogratz's vacation home in Brazil is the subject of their third book, Beachside Bohemian.

A second house in a tropical paradise sounds like an impossible dream.But dream big enough, and you might be surprised what's attainable. A decade ago Robert and Cortney Novogratz heard about a beachfront property in Trancoso, Brazil that was on the market and in need of some TLC. From their first visit, they were in love, not only with the unspoiled property but with the laid-back Brazilian vibe and how it brought their family of seven children together.

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Cortney and Robert Novogratz

Now the Novogratz—Bravo and HGTV vets who made their names rehabbing unique homes in New York and beyond, and who have brought their sophisticated but fun design sense to many a boutique hotel—are giving design-lovers a peek inside their own private getaway with their third book, Beachside Bohemian (Rizzoli, $55). For from a standard coffee table book that's all stunning panoramas and dry recaps of decorating choices, this tome really delves into not just the house—stunning as it is—but how they created a space that worked for their family—and how readers can create the same vibe in their own home, whether for their family or as a rental or guest property.

"We’re really big on creating a boutique lifestyle for people, especially in a beachside place, somewhere you can rent and live in. It's not turning your home into a boutique hotel, it's creating a lifestyle," Robert Novogratz told Houstonia. "AirBNB has 60 million users—even if you're not renting your place, it's creating that atmosphere when you have guests come."

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The book mixes gorgeous photography of the property and all the little details that make it feel like a destination, mixed in caiparinha recipes, travel tips, fridge essentials and lists of family games to play on vacation. "One thing Robert and I done throughout the years is curated house not only for the nine of us but for people from around the world: the books, the activities, the games. It's really given us a completely different life," says Cortney Novogratz.

There's also practical advice for those who, like the Novogratz, want to make a dream beachside getaway a reality by renting it out when not in use, including the measurements for the ultimate lounger, how to pick comfortable linens that will last, and how to decorate a guest property with personality.

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"It's creating a vinyl collection, curating great books and art and personal, interesting touches so it's not a run of the mill, standard place. That curated bit of curiosity, or homemade, local products is what makes an impression," says Robert.

Robert and Cortney Novogratz will be in Houston on Nov. 18, speaking at the Houston Arts Alliance's Creative Economy Salon. The event, taking place at 6 p.m. at the HAA Alliance Gallery (3201 Allen Parkway, suite 250) is the first in a quarterly series devoted to the local creative economy. 

The couple emphasizes that they hope their book inspires others to find ways to escape and have adventures with their families—even if Brazil is out of the budget. "There are great places in our own country: the outdoors, camping, there's great adventure out there and exciting journeys," Robert says. 

And if you want to create a rental space that feels as distinctly Texan—yet sophisticated—in the same way that the Trancoso house oozes a Brazilian bohemian vibe, the Novogratz have some advice for you, too.

"I think of wood and textiles—I don’t think you necessarily want to put up Texas star, but embrace where you are," says Cortney. "Every building we've ever done, no matter where, it has to keep that integrity. It can be though fun ribbons, old Texas gingham tablecloths, using things in a quirky way. You don’t have to have a bunch of cowboy boots, but always do little splash of Texas."

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