How Wanderlust Can Influence Your Home Decor

published Jun 18, 2018
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Daniel Kim/Stocksy)

Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of thinking.” Now, we don’t claim to be mindreaders or anything, but he was definitely talking about home decor.

From eyeing intricate Moroccan rugs at a market in Marrakech to finding beautiful chinoiserie porcelain far east, traveling—or the urge to travel—can be one of the biggest sources of inspiration when designing your space. But adding a jetsetting flair to your home is more than dousing it in touristy memorabilia. So how do you do it?

Below, several experts share how wanderlust can inspire your decor.

1. Layer with Care

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Insiders know layering is one of the easiest ways to score an effortless and eclectic vibe, but it can also tell the story of your dream destination.

“We often talk about layering being such an important part of design, and the layers of Austin really speak to this,” says Rachel Kane, co-founder of Brooklyn-based firm Current Interiors. “We’ve found ourselves bringing this layered palette into so much of our work, from patterned wallpaper in hues of pinks, upholstered items in contrasting fabrics, and organic moments to ground it all.”

Layer local finds—think textiles, throw pillows, and furniture—for s0me cool, authentic punch. If you’re concerned everything will clash, buy pieces in the same color family.

2. Rethink Your Room’s Layout

Want to capture a city or country’s je n’ais se quoi? Take a crash course in feng shui.

“I think it’s all about bringing home the spirit of your destination,” says Anna Brockway, co-founder and CMO of Chairish. “We recently spent time in the Sicilian countryside where I loved the simplicity of their furnishings. I came home and did a big edit! I was inspired by their spare, but thoughtful, furniture arrangements.”

While you’re away, take notes and pictures of your favorite spaces to make sure you’re getting the vibe just right.

3. Celebrate the Elements

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Sure, you can’t bring the Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower home, but you can take inspiration from your favorite sights.

“You can use textures that emulate the architecture or style of your favorite place,” Brockway adds. “Maybe a distressed wood table reminiscent of the barns in the English countryside or a vintage piece with patina as a nod to historic buildings of a beloved city.”

A marble table inspired by Michelangelo’s David, anyone?

4. Embrace Color

From the vibrant hues of Cartagena to France’s chic neutrals, experimenting with color is a simple way to make your home feel like a faraway paradise.

“The first thing that hit me when I arrived in Kenya was the color,” explains Breegan Jane, a California-based interior designer. “The use of bright, vibrant colors permeated everything, from the buildings to the the clothing. I tend to shy away from using a great deal of bright colors, but the designer in me wanted to bring them all home to use across Los Angeles neighborhoods.”

If you’re not willing to paint an accent wall or buy a brand new sofa, recreate the look with small accessories, like a vase or batch of throw pillows.

5. Get Cultured…

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

The best part of traveling is learning about another culture, so why not add that to your space?

“Incorporating rituals and traditions from your travels can recreate a specific mood or feeling you experienced during your travels,” explains Nisha Mirani, co-founder of SUNDAY/MONDAY. For instance, you can layer textured rugs and patterned floor pillows to seat more visitors in your home rather than limit yourself with the size of your dining table. Or, light a candle or incense from your trip to bring you back to a specific place.”

Bonus points: These traditions will double as conversation starters when you have guests over.

6. …But Do Your Research

You know what they say about assuming, right? Well, the same thing applies to decorating your space.

“Wanderlust and travel are wonderful, but keep in mind that there’s a difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation,” Mirani warns. “Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. People are usually happy to share their culture but it’s important to respect traditions and boundaries.”

Doing your research will let you pay proper homage to your favorite vacation spot, plus it’ll help you become an informed decorator and traveler.

7. When in Doubt, Keep it Simple

Want to dabble in international relations? The good news is it’s possible to integrate multiple influences in one space. The key, according to interior designer Leanne Ford, is a simple color story.

“Stick to two to three colors at most,” she recommends.

Hues like beige, tan, and grey create a blank slate, but won’t make your home look like a sterile museum. As for the furniture? Ford says natural elements—like wooden or bamboo furniture—are foolproof.