I Moved 4,000 Miles from Home with Just a Few Suitcases—Here Are the Decor Items I Brought with Me

published Sep 1, 2020
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Credit: Laura Itzkowitz

Last summer, I left the Brooklyn apartment I shared with three roommates for five years and moved across the ocean to a one-bedroom apartment in Rome. It wasn’t easy cutting my earthly possessions down to what can fit into a couple of suitcases and a duffel bag. Here’s how I decided what would make the trip.

Living in the same place for five years, I had accumulated a lot of stuff. And as a freelance travel writer, I find design inspiration wherever I go, which often results in bringing back things for my home. And it turned out, a transatlantic move was just what I needed to get rid of the clutter and assess what was actually important.

As an avid traveler, whose very identity is wrapped up in my adventures around the world, it’s comforting to surround myself with items picked up on my travels. When deciding what to take, I prioritized the one-of-a-kind pieces that I wouldn’t be able to replace easily. Are they mass manufactured or handmade? Did I get them at a chain store or a market or small boutique? Did I have to hunt to find them? Is there a particular memory attached to them?

Before leaving for a trip, I always research the destination’s traditional crafts and then hunt for the items that fit my personal style. These are the home decor pieces that I brought with me to Rome:

Credit: Laura Itzkowitz

Before my first trip to Marrakech, Morocco, I made sure I’d have plenty of space in my suitcase so I could bring home things like a silver teapot, ceramics, and the vibrant Moroccan rug above.

Credit: Laura Itzkowitz

I have a collection of ceramics that includes pieces from all around the world. In the center is a bowl I bought at the souk in Marrakech, Morocco. Clockwise from top right (the blue and white piece): ceramics from Japan, Italy, Turkey, Portugal, Italy again, and two more from Turkey.

Credit: Laura Itzkowitz

On a safari trip in Kenya, I managed to stuff a Maasai shuka blanket into my duffel bag (positioned on the left of the couch). I have decorative cushion covers from Thailand, Laos, Turkey, and Egypt as well.

Also, the pictures above the sofa are among my early purchases. They are a set of three vintage French magazine covers I bought during my study abroad year in Paris that I framed and hung on my walls.

Credit: Laura Itzkowitz

I have more special pillows in the bedroom. The two pillows in the front have ikat covers bought at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and the ones behind those have covers purchased in Luang Prabang, Laos. The painting on the right is by my friend Kimia Kline, and the small picture on the left is an Indian miniature bought in Udaipur.

The rest—my dishes and other kitchen supplies, sheets, towels, books, candles, and other bits and bobs that I knew I could either live without or buy in Rome—got sent to my parents’ house or given away.

When decluttering, value doesn’t imply cost. Pieces needn’t be expensive (many items I bought cost less than $30), but the fact that they’re attached to memories of travel make them unique and special. Placing these items around my new apartment—on the bookshelves, on the walls, and adding some color to my bed and sofa—made it feel like home.