My favorite part of a trip is….well, being in it, lol. But the second favorite is to come home and transform those amazing experiences in memories I can smile at every time I pass them by. The souvenirs can be small or big, that´s irrelevant. The important thing is that whatever you bring home is meaningful, so you can day dream, start a conversation about it (the famous “remember when…?”) or find calmness in a moment of stress.
Today, I´m sharing a few ideas of how to decorate your home with travel items…And I would love to hear some of yours as well! 😉
Now, this has got to be the easiest travel decoration item to find abroad from this list! lol. You might want to skip reading this one, because you think postcards are meant to either only look good at souvenir shops or to be sent out, but definitely not to decorate your house. Well, you might wanna think again…as I was forced to.
I actually never thought of postcards as decoration items before my husband told me he collected them and used them to create a postcard wall at home. My first thought was “ew”. Nevertheless, the idea grew on me after I saw it. It´s just like making an accent wall, but instead of using pictures, you use postcards. Since our room is kind of dark with grey and forest green colors, the postcards on the wall bring a happy element to it.
If you hate the idea of the wall, but kinda like postcards, there are many other things you can do with them! They can be framed or put under a glass table, for example. I´m actually particularly fond of this last idea.
Just like the food, I like to try the local wine at the destinations I go to, especially if they are famous for it! If I enjoy a bottle in particular (or two, or….), I bring it back home with me. It´s so comforting to, after a stressful day, open a bottle of wine from a special place you have been to, and smell the aroma of vacation.
If the wine is truly special and reminds me of a memorable moment I had during the trip, I keep it as a candle holder, or as an ornament at the bar. Recently a friend also gave me the idea of using the bottles as a vase, which I found brillant! Since the house can´t take another candle, I will definitely start heading to this new direction soon!
COFFEE TABLE PHOTO BOOK
You know those big professional photography books that people usually buy to decorate their coffee table? I have always wanted to buy one of those…until I found out I could make my own! Maybe it won´t be, indeed, as artistic as one you will get from a bookstore, signed by a famous photographer (I mean, who knows, maybe you are just as talented!), still, it will be your pictures, your frozen-in-time memories that you decided to shoot for a reason. I bet each of them has a story either in front or behind the camera. By the way, a photo book makes not only a great travel decoration item, but also a gift to the person that traveled with you.
There are many websites where you can assemble your own, choosing between hard or soft cover, the number of pages and the quality of the paper. Then you select your favorite pictures, arrange them in the order and sizes you want…and that´s it, all you have to do is to wait to receive your photo book comfortably at home. If you feel discouraged to organize the pictures by yourself (because it can take a lot of time depending on how much of a perfectionist you are…), you can just leave it to the website. Many companies offer the choice of automatically arranging the pics, so you don´t have to sweat.
I´m currently working on mine with White Wall, which you can use if you are in Europe or in the US. Though there are many companies offering the service in Germany, this company convinced me specially by the freedom they give it to you to make the book exactly the way you want it. Other companies are MyPoster and Photobox (this one has a sale going on until the 16th of July, by the way) in Europe, Photobook America (they also have a sale going on) in the US, and Phooto, in Brazil.
Have fun and be creative! You can choose to make smaller thematic books and stock them up, or order a big A4 size one with the crème de la crème of all your trips…Either way, it will definitely enrich a corner of your house, and maybe sparkle a fun story-telling evening with guests, who will for sure be impressed!
I´m not so keen on the idea of spreading picture frames all over the house. I think I got a bit traumatized by the second house I grew up in, where my mom would fill up every corner with the most extravagant frames. The minute I got my own house I forbade all picture frames to ever get in.
With time, though, I learned how to balance things out more, and I have made my peace with having at least some personal pictures around the apartment. But what I have learned that has worked for me even more as a way of elegantly distributing fond recollections around the house and celebrate people and moments are wall canvas.
Wall canvas are, like photo books, made online in the same shops mentioned above or in most photography shops you come cross. The ones I have were bought online at MyPoster, a company in Germany, who has competitive prices for canvas in all sizes. So far, we have 5 around the house, and I can say it really brings life into those blank spaces you didn´t know what to do with.
Of course you can print any kind of picture and put it on a canvas, but we chose to hang travel pics, of course! We have three full sized canvas, one graffiti work we photographed in Miami Wynwood Walls plus two landscapes, and two smaller canvas, a watercolor made by Angela Sheldrick, who heads an elephant orphanage in Kenya (you can read more about it here), and a somewhat artistic picture we took at the same place in Nairobi. These are all fond memories we have from very special places, and though we are not portrayed in them (well, there´s my hand in one, lol!), they mean a lot to us, because they bring us back there.
I love the idea of displaying a picture that I took myself and which has a story behind it. It´s important to make our house our fortress, and filling it up (though now crowding it up!) with visual cherished moments is a way to make the place you live in tell your story and feel like a true home.
SEA SHELLS & BEACH THEME ITEMS
It´s no secret that I love the sea and I know many people that love it too. If you live in a place by the beach and want to bring a little of the outside inside, or if you, like me, live far away from the sea and miss it, sea shells make the greatest decorations and memories from trips. You just have to get creative and play a bit with them!
Coming from a beach city and currently living beachless, I suffer…. So, a few years ago, I decided to make the entire guest room (and my office) a thematic one. Every beach destination I have gone to since I made this decision has given me the opportunity to decorate my room a bit more. I have brought sea shells from New Zealand (the most beautiful!), California, Florida, Rio de Janeiro, Búzios, Spain, Denmark…It´s like bringing a bit of your vacation back with you!
Some ideas are to arrange the shells on a tray with candles, put them inside a glass bowl with sand (or inside terrarium glasses), cover boxes with them, fill up jars, or even let your imagination fly and make a canvas to put on your wall. The options are endless. If you want to do something like this, but are not sure if it goes with your house decor, a tip is to start with the bathroom. Shells and beach items generally look good there, creating a whole oasis ambiance!
Beach destinations are also a great source of thematic seaside ornaments. I have brought with me some nice rustic wooden quote boards and wall art that has really enriched the walls and made it unique. But, of course, it´s not like you should go around shopping all the time during your vacation, after all, you have beaches to go to! Still, if you stumble across a shop that has an item that calls your attention, maybe that´s exactly the one you should take home as a nice souvenir of a happy beachy time.
I don´t really like maps. They all remind me of a classroom. And one thing I don´t want my house to look like is a classroom. I´m done with that time. It was nice, but I´m good.
Vintage maps are different though. I find them charming and almost like having a mystic aura around them, reminding us of the place full of secrecy and unknowness the world once was. They can bring a lot of charm to a living room or a sleeping room, but if you have a study, that´s where I find it particularly nice. I don´t know, It reminds me of those places where great explorers would carefully study them under a magnified lens and draw new research routes.
More interesting than where you would wanna put it, it is what you would want to hang. Nowadays vintage maps are a trend and you can find them in many shops, the easiest being the old style world maps. Here in Germany I have found some at Ikea and Mömax. But there are other specialized shops where you can buy more specific items, like country, island, cities and states. This Vintage Maps shop in the US, for example, has a varied collection.
If you wanna go all fancy, there are also special shops that sell the original stuff (with an alongside very original price as well….). Here in Germany there is, for example, the Vintage Maps, with exquisite items from the 15th to the 18th centuries I drooled on for a few hours.
Another source of old maps are antique and art fairs. So, if you are at a destination that has those, try to squeeze in some time to visit it and maybe dig yourself a treasure for your wall! Or, you can just ask at gift shops. I actually got mine (a vintage map from Kenya with drawn wild animals) at a hotel souvenir shop inside Tsavo Park. So, in the end, you gotta keep your eyes open, because you never know where you are going to find the next item you will give a home to!
ART WORK & CRAFTS
One object you can never go wrong with is art work. If you visit destinations that have indigenous art available or modern art that represents the country/city somehow, and also speaks to your heart, they definitely deserve a place in your suitcase. We are, for example, very much into native wooden artwork like masks and statues. Every time I look at the Maori mask at the study, I think of how amazing it was to visit Whakarewarewa Village in Rotorua, New Zealand, see the haka live for the first time and eat a Maori dish. An object has the power of transporting you so many miles away….
Another advantage with art work is that you bring home something meaningful and potentially unique. It can be pricey, yes, but if you are on a budget you can compromise with this being the only souvenir you bring back home. That´s exactly what we did in NZ: that mask came to Germany feeling quite lonely in the suitcase, but it was enough for us. Somehow, we feel like it summarizes all the experiences we had in that country.
Something I also love to bring home are crafted boxes. They are beautiful and so useful! I brought a set of 3 in Bali that were quite cheap and they have been put to great use by housing my nail polish, letters from friends and coins.
A great idea to showcase art work at home is to frame it in a glass niche. It´s a way to protect it at the same time that you display it in an elegant way.
I knew this item would be controversial. After all, this gotta be the most ignored thing in airplanes after the security video. But a friend brought me to the idea of airplane magazines actually making great travel decor objects, and nowadays we gladly use them to embellish our glass coffee table.
It all started with a question: “are you flying Lufthansa by any chance?”.
“Yes”, we replied.
“Would it be too much to ask you guys to grab this month´s magazine for me? I collect them.”
“Oh…okay. Yeah, sure.” In my head the question was more like “why?” though.
We got to the plane and the first thing we did was to take the magazine out of the front seat pocket and…hey, the magazine was quite stylish! The truth is that I had ignored this for so long that I had no idea some could actually look good! From that point on, we started to collect them too. It goes really well with the other travel items we have around the house. Maybe you should start giving them a chance too…
Shake it, sh-sh-shake it! Shake it like a….Actually, I know it´s fun, but don´t shake it, you will ruin your pic, lol. What you should do though is hang it, ha-ha-hang it! Hang it like….ok, I will spare you.
Using polaroid pictures as decoration became my new favorite thing it´s been about a year. I use them on the wall, what I find super enjoyable since I can change them as I please. If I get tired of them, I just need to replace themes and organize new ones. I also like to change accordingly to the season. Around Christmas time, for example, the wall is full of pictures from Christmas´ street markets and food!
If you are in between buying a polaroid camera or a polaroid printer, I would strongly recommend the last one, in case you intend to display the pictures. It takes time to get the hang of the camera, and you never know what is going to come out. It´s indeed fun, but if your ultimate goal is not the way, but the finish line, invest in a printer. With this gadget you will be able to print any pictures you take from your phone in a polaroid format, and they will come out with the best quality!
An additional tip is to buy cute albums for them, which you can also use as decoration items around the house. There are nice ones being sold on Amazon or on the Wish App.