Mary Kay Andrews – Summer Rental Essentials

Hi there! I’m Mary Kay Andrews.

Kev and Layla are off knocking things down and fixing things up, so I’m the blogger du jour!
What’s that? Today’s menu? It’s a little thing I call
Summer Rental Essentials.

I’m pretty expert on the topic, because for many years my family and I rented vacation places at the beach, in the mountains, and by the lake. Now, we own our own sweet little vacation rental on Tybee Island, Georgia- a cottage called The Breeze Inn, where Kev and Layla have actually stayed. I also have a new novel out June 7th, called Summer Rental. The book is set in a beach house called Ebbtide, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of suitcases snapping shut, car doors closing, kid’s excited chatter coming from the back seat, the clink of ice cubes, the lazy hum of an overhead ceiling fan. It’s the sound of the kick-off to summer, and summer rental season. Maybe you’re renting a cozy cabin in the mountains, or staying cool at a lake house, or even, like me, setting off for a week at a cottage at the beach. Or maybe this is the year you’re sticking close to home with a staycation. Whatever your summer rental plans, here are ten items I think are vital to a great summer rental experience. We made a point of including all these when we were restoring and furnishing our 1940s-era concrete block cottage three years ago.

1. A wooden screen door that slaps open and shut. Bonus points for a vintage aluminum Floridiana insert. Ours came from the Brimfield Antique Market in Massachusetts, and I based the color scheme of The Breeze Inn around it.

2. A big squishy sofa for lazing around on after a day at the beach. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Ours came from a church rummage sale, and I had it slipcovered in washable, bleachable cotton duck. I had two sets of bottom cushion covers made, because those receive the most wear and tear.

3. An outdoor shower. A must-have at The Breeze Inn, to keep sand off our reclaimed heart-pine floors. The doors of our shower stall are old wooden shutters I brought back from Brimfield. The extra towel hooks inside the booth are old faucet handles. I bought a bucket full of ‘em at an estate sale in Atlanta.

4. A squeaky glider or porch swing that lulls you to sleep. I found our (then) rusty, crusty porch glider at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta. Mr. Mary Kay replaced some of the parts, then we wire-brushed it and painted it margarita green.

5. An extra fridge for watermelon, popsicles, Kool-Aid and adult beverages. I inherited my sweet Aunt Alice’s ‘50s pink Philco fridge. My son recently sanded off the rust, and we spray painted it a hotter pink. Here’s a tip: specially formulated appliance paints come in blah colors. Buy a can of white appliance paint and have the store tint it to match your paint sample. They may have to pour off a bit of the paint in the new can to make room for the tint, but it’s definitely do-able.

6. A screened porch. A must for cooling off after a day at the beach or play. Ours is furnished with mismatched tables and chairs gathered at junk shops and estate sales–all spray-painted white and slipcovered with outdoor fabrics. The floor is painted concrete and can be hosed off at the end of the week.

7. Board games, puzzles, and playing cards. Turn off the TV! There’s just something so old-school cool about gathering around with friends and family for a late-night game of cutthroat Boggle. I buy games for next-to-nothing at thrift shops and yard sales, but I always check to make sure they have all the pieces first.

8. An extra daybed for tag-alongs. If you’re like my family, there’s always a last-minute friend or cousin added to the trip. Tuck a daybed into an unused corner of the house, and it’ll always find a taker, if even just for an afternoon nap. Air mattresses are all right–and we have one stashed in a closet, but I made the daybed in our laundry room out of a pair of $30 headboards I picked up at a flea market, and a spare pair of bed rails we had in the attic. You won’t need a box spring for a daybed, just a good quality mattress. Our white matelesse bedspread was a $19.99 HomeGoods find, and the pillow shams were gathered from yard sales and discount stores.

9. Plenty of fans. Snooty designers despise ceiling fans, but we love ‘em at the beach. There’s nothing like the slow whir of a ceiling fan–or even a box fan pointed in your direction, to lower your blood pressure and your body temp.

10. A good read. Sturdy bookshelves were a must for The Breeze Inn. Ours were recycled from a Savannah law firm doing away with its law library. I’ve filled the shelves with regional cookbooks, decorating books, kid’s picture books, mysteries, romance, and oh yeah, great beach reads–including the full selection of Mary Kay Andrews titles…

…especially Summer Rental!

PS- Kev & Layla are giving away a couple of copies of Summer Rental here on TLC this week- stay tuned for further details!


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  1. Carol says

    Hi Mary Kay, Great post! I’m addicted to your books now that Layla turned me onto them. I’m on my third book in a week! Thank you for sharing your lovely beach cottage. Does the ceiling fan you showed rotate?

  2. says

    I live on the NJ shore and found this a wonderful and oh so true post. Love your sweet Aunt Alice’s ‘50s pink Philco fridge!

    What’s NOT essential: cell phones, blackberries, laptops, any and all electronic/technical gadget(s) for communicating and/or entertainment!


  3. says

    Hi Mary Kay-

    Nice post – makes me want to go on vacation right now. Love the bright colors you used to decorate your cottage with. I love the Outer Banks – looking forward to reading Summer Rental.

    My best- Diane

  4. Betty Hopper says

    Hi! I get audio books through Library for the Blind. I have read Hissy Fit and The Fixer Upper. We need to tell them to have some more of your books to download. Loved them. Nice to meet you. Betty

  5. says

    Your cottage sounds like the perfect beach house! I’ve read several bloggers who wrote about Tybee Island and it sounds like a wonderful place. Certainly the homes being restored are inspiring!

    We’ve sort of inherited the family home in Argentina (not legally, but the responsibility for it is ours since we’re the only ones living there now) and because it’s rented out during the summers we’ve been trying to fix it up and make it more “user friendly” :) We can’t get out there too often (it’s two hours from where we live) but each time we go we have another project to work on. I figure it will take 3-5 years to do everything we want to do (it has taken almost 3 years just to get the plumbing fixed, one bathroom re-done, run the newly available city water, etc.) but it is a labor of love and we’ll get to enjoy it for many years to come.

    It sits a city block from the river so I’m going with a beachy decorating theme, starting with a light and bright pale aqua on the walls. Only the main living area has been painted so far but hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have the bedrooms done as well. I had already planned on finding used games, books and such to take back for the house (we’re stateside right now) but they need to be in Spanish so that’s not as easy as it sounds! Also on the lookout for bedding and accessories, kitchen items, and definitely some new shower heads! We want to make it as welcoming for our guests as we can. I plan on painting in large letters on one wall of the main living area “Rest and Be Thankful” — only in Spanish of course — because we do hope that the house will be a place of respite and peace from the busy lifestyles most of us keep. Which is exactly what a summer rental should be!

    (Although ours is available any time of year when someone needs a break!)

  6. says

    Hi Mary Kay..
    delightful post from start to finish!!
    Loved seeing your kids helping with the post…
    looks as if they are quite experienced..
    and adept with with summer relaxation..
    love seeing the cottage again!!
    one of these days..
    i might get to visit it for REAL!!
    watmest sandy hugs..

  7. Joyce says

    Hi, Mary Kay! I recently started reading your books {Thanks, Layla!} and have enjoyed them thoroughly! Wonderful- just wonderful!

  8. Susan says

    Loved this post and the fact that you used vintage and “old” and bargains to furnish it! Love your books too! I just recently discovered them!

  9. says

    This post is perfectly timed! I am one of 6, friends since kindergarten, who grew up at the beach, Orange County, California. Every other year we go to another beach destination for a girls’ week! What great times!! We are planning a trip to coastal South Carolina and I am going to give each of my ‘sisters’ a copy of your new book as required reading!!!
    Thank you, thank you for telling it like is was… is …and shall be for great times at the beach…Eating, Drinking, Shelling, Sunning and so much Funning!!! LOL!

  10. Jan says

    Hi Mary Kay! I just can’t wait until June 7! Just wish I could be on Tybee when I read Summer Rental. I love your blog post here.

  11. says

    Well….slap my fanny and call me Alice….I can’t believe you’re here! Well, *there,* or wherever it is that people *are* when they’re floating in the ether of the Internet.

    But you *feel* HERE.

    You’re posting at TLC!

    HOT DANG!!!

    I don’t want to sound like some sycophantic fan…but I LOVE YOU TO DEATH! I have just finished reading almost all of your books and the rest are on the way.

    We’re living in Italy this year and I’ve, once again, chosen to live without television to buttress the voracious reading appetites of my children and because books RULE THE WORLD.

    I, too, am a writer–journalist, etc. and love a gazillion types of books & you are just so dagnabbit UPLIFTING!

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed keepin’ up with “my South” via your books while here in Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Italia, but…I’m a Southerner through and through and your books spike my nostalgic meter!



    Hugs/blessings/thanks for helping me stay Southern in Italy,
    Lana Austin

  12. geri says

    Hi Mary Kay.
    I LOVE , LOVE, LOVE your books and your beautiful cottage.
    On my lists of to do’s A.K.A. my bucket list is to visit Tybee Island and see and
    experience first hand all the wondeful placers I read about in your stories.
    After Layla blogged about The Fixer Upper, I got the book and got on the train
    into the city and could not put it down. It made my commute so much more exciting than usual.
    I loved it so much I have now read everyone of your books and can not wait
    to read Summer Rental. Since I have not worked to much lately I am thrilled to make them my
    beach buddies.
    Your characters are so real and quirky and lovable.
    Cheers and Happy summer.

  13. says

    Hi Mary Kay. I LOVE your books!!! They are the epitome of a great beach read!!! LOVE them. Loved your post too. Your beach cottage looks super cute. We spent some time in Tybee last year, we love it there!

  14. Andrea says

    So happy to see you posting at TLC! I am a huge fan of yours, and have read all of your books. I have been looking forward to Summer Rental for weeks! I am also a fan of TLC, so it’s great to see two of my favorite things come together.

  15. says

    Hi Mary kay! What a fun treat to see a post from you! I just love your books-the Fixer Upper is my favorite-can’t wait to get my hands on Summer Rental! I craved chicken salad for a good week after finishing Itty Bitty Lies . . . was that story based on a recipe of yours by chance? ;)

  16. says

    Mary Kay,
    Love your books, I even did a blog about Savannah Blues and how it motivates me when I am out of steam and about to give up on junking.
    It just so happens you were in the antique store I am a dealer at (Rare Bird, Goodlettsville ,TN) and the girls there got me an autograph. Thanks for the great stories. Lisa

  17. maggie says

    Hey Mary Kay! What a fun post! Now all I want to do is take a road trip, grab my daughter on the way through Charleston and settle into a cottage on Tybee for a week. I’m a long-time fan of your books and am tickled as pink as your Aunt Alice’s Philco that you have a new one coming out. Have a great summer!

  18. sarita says

    mary kay – love love your books – great fun reads..thank you for the post and the lovely pictures.

  19. says

    I’m so excited to hear about your new book…been anxiously waiting for one for so long! I love love love them all! The cottage looks so summery and inviting…what a way to start out the summer….thanks for sharing it with us!

  20. says

    Hi Mary Kay!! We’re heading to the beach and I’m stopping to get one of your books! A must–read! Love your beach house! We have a lake spot and I’ve included many of the same must-haves too, including a screen door!!

  21. Dawn says

    Mary Kay its great to “meet” you! Your new book sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing your super cute cottage! Have a great summer!

  22. Katie says

    Tybee is my favorite place on Earth. Can’t wait to get back down there for my annual visit! And thanks, Mary Kay, for THE FIXER UPPER! A friend sent a copy as a thank you gift and I was hooked. Can’t wait for SUMMER RENTAL!

  23. says

    I’m a huge MKA fan so this post was especially fun for me! I can’t wait to read Summer Rental! Mary Kay’s characters are so likeable and I feel like I know them personally.

  24. Mel says

    Love your books! I can’t wait to read your newest one… just wish it was out now for my “summer rental” vacation week! The Breeze Inn is adorable. Love the ceiling fan!

  25. Kim Larson says

    Hooray!!! Love, love, triple love M.K.A!!!! Wonderful charming books, thanks for guest posting! What a lovely cottage on Tybee! I am daydreaming of a relaxing day there as we speak! Can’t wait to snap open your latest book too!!! Thank you for the peek inside your darling rental cottage!!

  26. says

    What a wonderful post…I love the entire list of things for your summer rental!!1 I don’t have a summer rental, or beach cottage yet, but I am going to recreate that feel right at home this summer!!! First things first, I will be getting your book on June 7!!!!!!

  27. Sherri Langford-Farrell says

    Hello, Mary Kay,
    You just made my day!!!! I feel like I’ve had a mini vacation just reading your blog!!! And I agree, there’s nothin’ like a screen door and a fan to make my life complete!!! Thanks for such a beautiful blog!!!!

  28. JennyBC says

    I used to live in Savannah and now we vacation at Tybee! I love the old fashioned family feel of the island and your list was so perfect! I could almost smell the salt air and feel the breeze on my face. Love it and love your books…looking forward to another great summer read…

  29. says

    Hi there.. loved this post. hubby and I and our girls visited tybee for a week last Aug.. and we loved loved it!
    We stayed right on the beach for the whole week.. and we fell in love with the island… hubby and I hv plans to move there in about 3 years… full time year round.. .we can’t wait.. we loved your little community! hugs xo bonitarose
    [email protected]

  30. says

    I can’t believe you went to Massachusetts to the Brimfield Market…I grew up up there in a bordering town! Such a small world! The Brimfield Market is one of the BEST places to visit if you have the opportunity!!! Actually, the whole area is very much New England country and not far from my hometown! I am just so excited to hear from someone who has actually been to my neck of the woods. I not longer live in the state but visit often to see family! …ok, now I can get back to reading the rest of this days post! Thanks!!!

  31. says

    Great guest post! I have read all of MKA’s books and I love the decorating theme they seem to have…I also love the recipes that show up in there too! :) SO excited for “Summer Rental!”

  32. says

    I just discovered your lovely blog. I’m just new into blogging this year & have just finished off my own blog on fashion & interior design.
    I had a lot of fun putting it together!

  33. says

    Loved this post. Oh, the color! Especially the margarita green of the porch glider. I feel like leaving town now. I’ll be looking for Summer Rental. Cheers!

  34. Beverly Palmer says

    What are perfect time for this blog! We are making our first trip to Tybee Island on June 18th and are staying at the Castaway. Thanks for all the tips and if you’re there, stop by and visit us! We are SO very excited.

      • Beverly Palmer says

        I will be sure to check out all the cottages (the Screened Inn, Breeze Inn, Paula Dean’s, etc.) when I go. It’s like I already know them all!

  35. Julie Fricke says

    Love your books!! Can’t wait for Summer Rental! It’ll be a birthday present for me! Keep writing PLEASE!!

  36. Andrea @ Big Creek Cottage says

    Mary Kay…I love your books….I just preordered Summer Rental….the only problems is that I hope I can wait until I get to the beach to read it!!!!! I probably will read it twice!!!!

    We are hoping to make it to Tybee soon….my husband thought that I would want to stay at Paula Deen’s place….(love her too), but I told him heck no…..I have had my eye on your beach house for a while!!!!! Hope it is still for rent!

    Ummmm…..are you almost finished with another book, please?


  37. Mary Slimp says

    Waiting with breath bated for Summer Rental, though I’m forcing myself to wait even longer til I get to my beach shack in Florida to read it. During a thunderstorm, curled up on my screened porch with a sweaty Arnold Palmer….

  38. Renee Snow says

    So enjoyed the guest blog. I’ve read all of Mary Kay Andrews books and passed them along to my daughter, and cant’ tell you how many times I’ve thought these past couple of months – I just need to research and make sure I’ve read them all – and lo’ and behold – a new book – yahoo! Out in just a few days ;) Loved your post for summer cabins – something I’m working to obtain at our year-round Texas lake home.

  39. says

    Another Mary Kay Andrews book . Wonderful!!
    Happy to hear that. Loved her other ones and
    were they take place.
    HOpe you chose me to recieve her signed book and recipe cards.
    I can hardly wait to be taken into the world of Summer Rental.
    I live in the mountains of Colorado. But want a beach rental.

  40. says

    Mary Kay Andrews is the best! I love all her books!
    I would really like some tips with restoring an old glider like the one mentioned here. We have two that I really want to paint but I am unsure of the sanding and what paint to use. Any suggestions?

  41. Sharleen says

    Love the cottage and will have to get some of your books too by the rave reviews here!! What I really would LOVE to know is where did you get that FAB ceiling fan?! I want one too!!

  42. Paula Robertson says

    Love your cottage,can’t wait to read this bppk. Have spent the last six summer vacations on the eastern coast-mostly in Atlantic Beach , NC, andCharleston and Savannah. Was planning a trip to Tybee this year-I love the cottages there and This blog!

  43. says

    Hi Mary Kay!! I love all of your must haves for a summer rental…so many great finds that don’t cost an arm and leg!

    Come and enter my amazing $250 Giveaway from Tracy Porter!

    Art by Karena

  44. Gena says

    Mary Kay,

    Awesome post! I love your books and have read them all. We’ve just recently started renting houses on Fripp Island, SC for our vacations. We want to retire their in the next 10 years or so. Your ideas are fantastic and are perfect for what families need! Between my brother and myself, we have 8 kids, as well as their significant others and the various friends that are brought along.

    My husband and I are currently stocking up on the things we will need for our future home. In fact, I sort of want to live that way all the time, whether or not the sea breeze is blowing through our windows.


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