ASK A DESIGNER: Vacation visions dazzle your decor
Bring that holiday vibe back into your home
Summer travel leaves many of us with memories of ocean sunsets or foreign street scenes or other only-on-vacation sights. Once we’ve returned home, how can we hold onto some of that beauty and bring it into our living spaces?
The weeks after a trip can be the perfect time to make small but powerful changes to your home. “I love what travelling does to people’s imaginations and to their creativity,” says Los Angeles-based interior designer Betsy Burnham.
With minimal effort and expense, she says, you can live year-round with a bit of the charm and feeling of your favourite travel destinations. “You don’t have to redecorate. All you have to do is kind of pinpoint what it is that evokes the sensation of still being there.”
“Look back through your photos and just think about the sense of place,” she says. “It can be as simple as a jar of shells that appears in your guest bathroom,” or as dramatic as re-painting a room.
Here Burnham and interior designers Kyle Schuneman (author of The First Apartment Book: Cool Design For Small Spaces, due out Aug. 28 from Clarkson Potter) and Brian Patrick Flynn, who is the founder of decordemon.com, share advice on bringing your travels into your home. the first thing I’ll do is ask them to think of a time and place that they went to that really made them happy,” says Flynn.
For one client, he repainted a bathroom the exact shade of robin’s egg blue that was used throughout a hotel where the couple stayed during a memorable anniversary trip. “Every time she thinks of that colour, it brings her back to that time before they had kids and got busy with their careers,” Flynn explains.
Another client, based in Los Angeles, wanted memories of his Aussie home. “In his breakfast nook, we went with pure, bold, almost radiation yellow,” Flynn says. “It always feels sunny and reminds him of how it feels to be in Australia.”
“I think creating a collection in your home from your travels is such an important part of design,” says Schuneman. “I actually have a chapter in my book called ‘The Collector,’ as I think those collections are what are so important to making a house a home.”
Burnham agrees: On her family’s first trip to Paris, her kids bought inexpensive Eiffel Tower statues sold on the street corners. “It’s so corny when you’re there,” she says. But if you gather similar items during and after a trip and display them together, it becomes a design statement and conversation piece. Their Eiffel Tower collection has grown over the years, and “all of a sudden we’ve got this kind of funky collection.” destination or just captures the area’s sensibility, the work of local painters and artisans can commemorate your trip and add beauty to your home.
You can often find local art that is extremely affordable, Flynn says, “and it’s a permanent story sitting on your walls. You’re filling the walls and telling a story about your vacation.”
Along with appreciating artistic beauty, also keep natural beauty in mind: Burnham suggests taking note of the plants and flowers you saw during your summer travel. If the climate is at all similar, try to use the same or similar plants in your own yard. “Maybe it’s a topiary in a pot, something European,” she says, or beach grass that evokes a sleepy seaside town you loved visiting.
When you return with photos from your trip, skip traditional frames in favour of something more creative.
“A great idea for displaying photos is taking some of your favourites and finding a rustic slab of wood or maybe a sleek piece of metal,” Schuneman says. Then decoupage the photos in a random, eye-catching pattern. “For little or no money, you have a cool art piece that will forever be a memory board and can be customized to just your taste and the trip’s feeling.”
Choose the frame material based on the vibe of your destination — perhaps mount camping photos on unfinished wood or photos from an urban destination on metal.
Another option is choosing “a more artistic-feeling photo — maybe a landscape or a close-up shot — and having it blown up on canvas. Canvas On Demand is one of my favourite sources for this and their quality is great,” Schuneman says. “It’s a total conversation starter.”
The lush orange trees of California serve as inspiration in a client’s den for designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of decordemon.com. He layered several shades of orange throughout the space to capture those vacation memories.
Bright yellow tones in this dining space reflect an Australian client’s love of his home country’s golden sun.