Here’s How My Travels Inspired My Apartment’s Decor and How I Continue to Curate This Look During a Pandemic

published Sep 26, 2021
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Travel has given me many things: new friends, education, and a number of mementos that instantly bring me back to the souks in Marrakech, marketplaces in Oaxaca, and the vibrant patterns and jewelry in Johannesburg. Decorating my apartment with these souvenirs, particularly during the pandemic, has kept me connected to the world and rooted in a global community. In the absence of being able to really globetrot over the past year-and-a-half, scouring the internet for items that cross continents to get to me has become a new addictive pastime, and I’ve lucked out on some local finds from artisans and gifts given to me over the years as well. Pops of color, texture, and prints that celebrate culture — these things have always been the inspiration behind anything I decorate my surroundings with. 

If you want a similar storied look, you don’t have to travel much further than your sofa to get it. While there’s no substitute for scouting some of these pieces in real life, here’s just a few of my favorite sites and items (some shoppable right now!) that can bring the beauty of multiple locations around the world right into your living space. 

Credit: Kristin Braswell

All things Jungalow

There’s nothing like a burst of color and pattern to brighten a space — and mood. If a room is dull, any piece from Jungalow can help revive it. That’s because founder Justine Blakely’s worldly approach to design never shies away from vibrancy and a celebration of local artisans around the world, from Morocco to Ghana. In addition to her Jungalow brand, Blakely also recently launched Opalhouse Designed with Jungalow for Target this year. Think coconut shells, rattan, and raffia, scalloped quilts, and a decorative hand figurine to store your keys. 

I immediately jumped on the most recent fall release of kitchen items, buying a cotton jacquard runner that reminds me of one of my favorite patterns spotted in South Africa once as well as two-tone appetizer plates that I use to get me excited about prepping meals for dinner. As a longtime pillow addict, Jungalow also gives me plenty of reason to keep my couches fun with botanical patterned and velvet floor throw pillows. I will be gazing at these often to keep my winters blues at bay.

Credit: Kristin Braswell

The Luna Sideboard from Castlery

Though designed by award-winning Polish designer Krystian Kowalski, the sleek green Luna sideboard instantly transports me to some of my favorite hues of ocean water in the Caribbean, just by looking at it. With its veined gray ceramic top, there’s definitely an old-world European sensibility about it, too.

This piece also stores some of my most prized wine bottles from around the world. I purchased it on Castlery, a direct-to-consumer furniture retailer that I’ve spent many hours obsessively trying to find apartment furniture on. Another piece I’ve found there? The Hudson High Shelf that houses my collection of books I’ve collected from different countries during my travels as well.

Credit: Kristin Braswell

South African placemats from Shine Shine

I found these vibrant, figural placemats from South African textile company Shine Shine at a store in Cape Town. I decided to hang them on my wall because they’re full of color and sass — and, yes, I want to ride a blue Vespa through the streets of Cape Town one day! Whether traveling and shopping local or browsing online at store that’s across the globe, here’s your reminder that textiles (or even wooden/paper placemats) make for wonderful wall art, framed or unframed.

Credit: Revival Rugs

Vintage rugs from Revival

I never knew that rug paralysis was a real thing — until it was time to find one for my living room. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole of websites to find that perfect pattern or color, but luckily, only one website had a strong hold on me during my research: Revival Rugs

Over the years, the founders of Revival have built relationships with local artisans to source one-of-a kind vintage pieces. They currently have outposts in Istanbul, Casablanca, Mumbai, and Oakland. Brilliant weavers from around the world have collaborated in the production of these vintage rugs Revival sells. Their glassware collection, mouth-blown pieces of recycled glass called “beldi” created by artisans in Morocco, remain among some of my most beloved kitchen items, too. When it’s time to treat myself to a luxurious bath after a long week, it’s Revival’s Aegean Towel Collection, sourced from Turkey, that gives my skin a baby soft hug. Don’t miss their international offerings — and the stories of the craftspeople behind them — across multiple categories.

Credit: Kristin Braswell

Abuja Arts & Crafts Village in Nigeria

A dear friend of mine who was living in Lagos at the time sent me a gorgeous piece of art she got from Abuja Arts & Crafts Village in Nigeria, which is pictured here. This mosaic features the side profile of a woman’s face, and the entire piece is made from butterfly wings that were shed and collected by artists. The intricacy of the pattern of wings never ceases to amaze me. She shared recently that this market has all kinds of cute arts and crafts, including wood carvings, baskets, ceramic sculptures, jewelry and more — all created by the hands of local artisans. One day I hope to visit one of Nigeria’s markets with my friend to find more items to add to my home.

6th and Detroit

Every time I walk into Michelle Quazi’s Long Beach-based store 6th and Detroit, I know I’m going to be hauling more than a few items into my car trunk. That’s because her love of vintage finds is truly remarkable and her curation nails that California coastal cool aesthetic, which lends my apartment just a touch of beach house vibes.

Right now, her blush-colored wine glasses are providing my bar cart (also purchased at her store!) with a refreshing splash of pastel color, and I have her teal candlesticks on my sideboard. Follow the shop’s Instagram account, where they post new items available for purchase daily.