Design Manifesto: Part 1, An Introduction

Find out about the very ethos of Plum and how we evaluate our collection of the world's best vacation homes


A home critic hard at work during the Plum Test


Plum Guide is built on a passion for great design. Of course, design is subjective, and not everyone likes the same aesthetic. But this isn’t about saying one style is superior to another: we want to celebrate a variety of design styles. 

Evaluating if a home has great design is one of our Essential Criteria in the Plum Home Test. This Manifesto aims to explain what great design looks like, across diverse styles, in the eyes of Plum Guide. And there are a few underlying principles we can use to guide our judgement when assessing design. It is intended to help graders understand what is Plum and what isn’t; what an A looks like vs. what a C looks like. 

A home critic hard at work during a Plum Test

A home critic hard at work during a Plum Test

It’s also intended for city growth and collection teams, to encourage passionate debates and celebrations of design. To help you decide what passes and what doesn’t; to help you talk the talk with design-buff hosts you want to court; and to help you write with the sophistication of our mature customers on the homes you’ve passed. 

The Four Elements 

There are four elements to consider when judging the design attributes of a home. There are two tangible elements (things you can point at and touch, which we will consider in detail later in this Manifesto) and two intangible elements (that can be assessed by asking yourself some qualitative questions). No home will score top marks in all of these categories. The important thing is to ‘break down’ an image, consider each in turn, and then make a judgement call based on these four elements. 

The Tangibles 

The Shell 

These are the things that are hardwired into the building itself. Quality is everything here.

The Things 

These are the things that can be moved and removed. Quality and character are key here.

The Intangibles 

The Look 

This is all about knowing your interior styles, and asking yourself: is there a coherent aesthetic? Does it work as a whole? 

The Feel 

The all-important feel. Does the space invoke positive emotions? Does it invite you in? Or does it seem too cluttered (like it wouldn’t feel ‘yours’) or conversely, too empty and clinical? 

Next up in our Design Manifesto, we look at the importance of assessing the shell of a home.

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