Image: Ilana S Photography
These days, there is a plethora of places to draw design inspiration from: décor magazines, websites, blogs, books, and the ever popular Pinterest. While I love spending my time scrolling or thumbing through styled images and DIYs I’d like to try, the most original inspiration has always come to me through travel.
Any new area you visit is sure to be different than where you live. This is always true when you travel abroad, but I’ve found it to be true even when visiting different parts of the country. No single city, state, or country has the same vibe, culture, or natural beauty.
To find design inspiration when you travel, all you need is to keep your eyes wide open. You’ll naturally notice what differs from where you live, and you may start to notice repeating patterns of popular trends in the place you are visiting.
When I was in 7th grade, we took a family vacation to the Southwest. I came home with a pink wooden coyote and a small tribal rug that I thought was cool. Before I knew it, I wanted my entire room decorated in a Southwestern theme. While I’m not into themes these days, I am into bringing back pieces you love, incorporating colors you see, and scouring for natural pieces that help you remember your travels.
A few years back on a trip to England, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the colored doors. A lot of homes are all brown brick and many are row houses (townhouse-like), not having much distinction other than the color of the door. I was totally taken with a light blue, turquoise-like, painted door. As soon as I came home, I painted my door blue. Every time I pulled in the driveway and saw that blue door, it reminded me of that trip. The door has since changed from blue to yellow, and I have a hunch that I will always have a colored door because of that one trip.
Image: Gary Mellor
Now, every trip I take I catch myself looking for any and every kind of detail in some of the most obvious and odd places. I daydream of how and where I could incorporate little details I spy along the way.
Here are a few things I’m always looking at:
Color on anything and everything. Don’t look past the well-worn exteriors. Sometimes the weather has worn down color to the most perfect shade. If you like the shade, snap a photo. It just might become the inspiration for your bedroom or a piece of furniture you’ve been planning to paint.
Image: Hotels Paris Rive Gauche
Hotels, restaurants, and stores. See how fashionable places are adorned. I’ll never forget walking into the children’s store, Bonpoint in Paris. While the clothing was beautiful, I could not take my eyes off the way the store was decorated and styled. The furniture pieces were painted the most perfect greige (which inspired the color painted onto the built-in shelves in my home). The coolest thing of all was a wooden cabin playhouse built in the middle of the store, with a crystal chandelier hanging above. I think this look was a real catalyst in my love for a mix of beautiful and playful design.
Image: Design Sponge
Look at the woodwork in this California juice bar! It’s amazing! Even, if you aren’t going to go home and cover your walls like this, just the idea of mixing bright white with natural wood and a great modern black light fixture is a great takeaway.
Image: La La Lovely
Flowers and Gardens. I love seeing what gardens look like. Anyone who has ever been to England, or even seen it on TV, likely dreams of having an English garden. I love the way these wispy white flowers drape and dress this old brick wall in England. I’d love to cover a wall or gate this way, one day.
Image: Rue Magazine
Travel Keepsakes. Bringing home items that are indigenous to the area you are visiting is one of the best ways to remember your trips and travels, and inspire design. My most favorite homes are ones that tell stories of travels, life lived, and of the people that live in them. The things you bring home are not only beautiful decorations; they are also chapters in your stories and memories in object form that are sure to bring a smile to your face every time your eye catches them.
I love the idea of bringing home something like a rug. Not only can you use it traditionally, you could also hang it as art.
Some of my most favorite souvenirs have been free. I love taking photos of things that inspire me. Sometimes I’ll make a gallery wall or blow a photo up to a larger size. And I adore the idea of making a mural, as shown above.
Image: This is Glamorous
What about keeping a map in your home and marking it with something beautiful to chronicle all of your adventures? How pretty is this one made with butterflies?
As you can see, this concept doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Every time I travel, I find myself picking up rocks (flint from England, for instance) or shells and placing them about, here and there. My home tells the story of where I’ve been, who I am, and, occasionally, where I wish to go.
So the next time you find yourself traveling, even to a neighboring town, keep your eyes wide open. Inspiration is sure to strike.
How will you incorporate your next travels into your home design?