Flirty Fleurs for Valentine's and Every Day!

Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” like flowers, and we admit to loving any excuse to bring florals and greenery into our home. In fact, we don’t think there’s any need to wait for Valentine’s Day to do so: flowers are a welcome, mood-boosting, room-brightening addition to any home any time of the year. Monet once said, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” We couldn’t agree more!

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A general rule, you can’t go wrong with orchids for color and ferns for greenery, and we also favor incorporating seasonal blooms. In February, that could mean romantic flowers such as the amaryllis or the star-shaped bouvardia, the almost-sculptural dusty miller, or playful blooms like gerbera daisies and zinnia. If you have the option of selecting flowers and greenery from your own garden, that’s the best choice of all (and a reason to make plans to grow your own cutting garden)!

Arrangement by SHID (pot from Botanical Collections)

A general rule, you can’t go wrong with orchids for color and ferns for greenery, and we also favor incorporating seasonal blooms. In February, that could mean romantic flowers such as the amaryllis or the star-shaped bouvardia, the almost-sculptural dusty miller, or playful blooms like gerbera daisies and zinnia. If you have the option of selecting flowers and greenery from your own garden, that’s the best choice of all (and a reason to make plans to grow your own cutting garden)!

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No matter what flower and greenery strikes your fancy, we recommend mixing and matching to create a layered, vibrant, and living array.

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Choose plants that vary the texture of the leaf and petal as well as the scale for an intriguing, unique arrangement. Even if you stay within the same color scheme (greens, for example) you can create a rich, diverse bouquet that brings both contrast and harmony.

Fun additions to your arrangement include vegetables such as cabbage. These affordable, ubiquitous, and sturdy “blooms” come in a variety of colors, from white to pale green to deep purple. Paired with whimsical blooms such as hydrangea, cabbages add strength and instantly make the selection appear ready for a still life painting session.

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Choosing flowers and greens that are low-maintenance is absolutely key, especially for botanical beginners. While baby’s breath has earned a reputation among certain florists as a simple bouquet filler, we love using it because it doesn’t die quickly. Its delicate, almost neutral appearance makes it a great complement to more showy blooms. .

Plants such as succulents also make for an appealing, unfussy, long-lasting option. A display of a few fern stems lays on some natural flair and is simultaneously easy to maintain or swap out.

Arrangement by SHID

After you’ve picked your flowers and greenery, deciding how to display them is half the fun. There’s no need to keep the arrangement formal in a traditional vase either.

An empty glass soda bottle with a single flower and a ribbon tied around it is an adorable and approachable way to make your floral budget go far, and it instantly adds sweet style for when guests come to visit or to bring a little life into a bathroom or study.

These wine glass vases add instant drama, but you can also use regular wine glasses. Cutting the stems short to keep the blooms tight around the rim of the glass is a sophisticated way to maximize a few choice blossoms. We picked up a tip from a floral class that will come in handy for virtually any vessel: use clear tape and make a grid on top of your vase or container. This set-up keeps blooms and greenery from falling over and allows you to better curate the bouquet.

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Finally, don’t be afraid to try experimenting with unfamiliar flowers and creating unique arrangements. While you may not have the same techniques as a trained florist, trust your eye: you know your taste better than anyone else. Bringing in blooms that make you happy or remind you of a joyous occasion, whether it be your own wedding or a long ago childhood walk among wildflowers, will instantly brighten your home and your mindset.

Ultra Violet - Pantone color of the year

Pantone’s Color of the Year last year was an eye-popping, lush green, and this year the company continued its trend of vivid and dramatic shades with its selection of Ultra Violet. At first glance, the rich, super saturated shade might not be our choice for a whole house makeover, but that’s the beauty of this kicky purple: its richness results in plenty of visual punch, even when sprinkled throughout the home with a measured hand.

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A curated view of Ultra Violet by the Sara Hillery Interior Design Team

Purple has seen waves of popularity going back centuries. The hue has long been associated with royalty, partially as a result of the cost and rarity of the dye that was once used to create the color. Colors in this family are more versatile than they may appear, with a wide range of shades ranging from bold to airy to neutral. We’ve included another of Pantone’s 2018 colors, Pink Lavender, in the mood board for contrast. This paler shade softens the boldness of Ultra Violet and is more easily visually digested than its grape jelly-like color cousin.

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Mixing, matching, and blending purples in your home can result in a pulled-together yet playful vibe. This chandelier from Louise Gaskill incorporates found, Mid-Century glass and bridges divides and designs in both color and time with a style that blurs the line between antiques and modern décor. We also love this chandelier’s southern roots-all of Louise’s pieces are made in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Both the gorgeous “Pearl River” pattern on the pillows and the “Vanderbilt Print” fabric of the mood board background belong to the Schumacher brand, a family-owned business since 1889. The pillows’ design originated in 1918, but it feels fresh and elegant, like having a piece of art you can rest against. Juxtaposing the lavender ziggurat Vanderbilt fabric with a more saturated shade would lend a harmonious, classic slant. It also serves as a surprisingly complementary contrast for floral patterns and prints.

As proof of purple’s versatility, we also included this Mid-century modern sofa designed by Paul McCobb. The simple lines highlight the color choice, while the understated design enables the sofa to stand the test of time and redecorating. This sofa even has a little secret: while it is is primarily upholstered in lux Maharam cotton, the side and the back are upholstered in vibrant, patterned cloth from the 1940s in India.

Textiles As Art

Paintings and photographs are among the most common and coveted wall hangings, yet incorporating textiles offers a fresh, dramatic, visually appealing alternative that can reflect deeply personal tastes and varied decors. Scarves, weaving, shibori, fabric pieces picked up while traveling: sources for textiles can come from inspiration both near and far.

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Hermes’ beautifully crafted scarves have sparked a rich tradition of being framed and prominently displayed, and their classic, colorful patterns look gorgeous whether hung solo or as part of a gallery. Jim Thompson offers more affordable, equally frameable options that include sumptuous colors and patterns like florals and animal prints. But you don’t have to go high end to find your textile: focus less on the brand name and more on the pattern or style that strikes your fancy. You may even find it as an estate sale or in grandma’s attic.

An authentic weaving can create a beautiful, meaningful focal point for a wall, yet if you are more interested in the style of these increasingly popular wall hangings than in the history behind them, consider purchasing a reproduction from a local retailer.  While mass-produced weavings seldom carry the cultural significance of an authentic weaving, their variety and availability (and their budget-friendly price point) make them attractive options.

Draperies can also wield visual power as an alternative and creative form of wall art.  For rooms without an abundance of wall space or for people who prefer to have only a few simple photographs or piece of art, patterned draperies can add color, texture, height, and intrigue. Plus draperies are easier to swap out and vary than other more permanent design elements. Or take this concept a step further and upholster the walls with fabric. Not only does this wall covering option create a vivid visual and textural effect, it also creates a sound barrier. And, since the eye will have plenty to feast on with the wall’s pattern, there’s less of a need for additional art.

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Using textiles is a popular option both for people who already have a lot of paintings and are looking for more wall variety or for people who can’t afford more traditional wall art. Whichever category you fall into, incorporating these rich, textured, varied art sources will add intrigue and visual flair to your walls, all while maintaining or enhancing the room’s style.

Using textiles is a popular option both for people who already have a lot of paintings and are looking for more wall variety or for people who can’t afford more traditional wall art. Whichever category you fall into, incorporating these rich, textured, varied art sources will add intrigue and visual flair to your walls, all while maintaining or enhancing the room’s style.

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Fireplace Makeover

Fireplaces are natural gathering areas in the home. Whether they actually function or not, fireplaces instantly evoke feelings of cozying up, relaxing, and coming together, especially as the winter weather descends upon us. If your fireplace is currently underused (or completely unused), consider making over this space; it can quickly and easily become one of the favorite spaces in your house.

To begin with, don’t feel hemmed in by the original state of your fireplace. We transformed the feel of one client’s room by revamping their brick fireplace with a wash of white mortar. Depending on the material you choose for the fireplace surroundings, that room will take on a classic, sleek, or whimsical vibe.

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Before and after by the team at Sara Hillery Interior Design

Even a small aesthetic touch can make a large statement if you aren’t prepared to make a large change. For example, black or gray concrete fireballs are a chic, modern fireplace alternative to more traditional logs. If you are living in a space that lacks a working chimney, you can still bring warmth and comfort to your home via a ventless gas or electric insert.

Non-functioning fireplaces can still serve the primary purpose of spreading some light. Buy white birch logs and stack them with ends facing out as an alternative. The whiteness of the logs helps to evoke the sensation of a light-giving fire.

Or fill the fireplace cavity with white candles of varying heights. Focusing on one color for the candles yet including different sizes helps the space avoid the look of a candle storage bin. Or get playful: stacked books will also help cultivate cozy feelings and is a much more timeless display than BluRay discs or DVDs.

As much attention as you pay to the inside of the fireplace, make sure to give what’s above it some consideration as well.  One simple fix is to add a mantel over the fireplace itself as we did in a client’s home. This surface can serve as much more than a space to store favorite photos, vases, or holiday décor; it’s an opportunity to subtly draw attention to other personal style preferences. For example, the large picture featuring an exotic bird creates a main focal point, while the small orchids add color and livelihood as well as an organic shape. The tall, linear candles balance out the mantelpiece display and add length. The result is a clean and serene mantel that reflects the interests and personalities of the room’s owners. Your best bet for an organized, visually impactful mantel: choose one main element to concentrate on and then add just a few components that complement it.

Designed by the team at Sara Hillery Interior Design

Happy fireplace gathering!

Christmas Table Settings

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This Christmas, our table is all about the joy and warmth of the season.  Classic Lenox china is layered over festive gold rimmed chargers creating a rich (and sparkly) table scape. Mixing in antique silver flatware and red baubles adds a personal touch and is a sweet way to acknowledge Christmas feasts held by generations past.

Traditional sterling silver candle sticks and Juliska glasses that beg to be filled and used for holiday toasts brighten up the table even more, while delicate sterling silver bud vases bursting with holly, berries, and baby’s breath integrate the season’s colors and add natural vibrancy.

Traditional sterling silver candle sticks and Juliska glasses that beg to be filled and used for holiday toasts brighten up the table even more, while delicate sterling silver bud vases bursting with holly, berries, and baby’s breath integrate the season’s colors and add natural vibrancy.

Finally, red linen napkins and a red ribbon tie the colors of the table together while giving a nod to our traditional southern style. The eye-catching shine of silver and gold, the pops of vivid red and green, and the combination of elements and accents both cherished and new: our table honors the past, celebrates the present, and heralds a bright new year.

Finally, red linen napkins and a red ribbon tie the colors of the table together while giving a nod to our traditional southern style. The eye-catching shine of silver and gold, the pops of vivid red and green, and the combination of elements and accents both cherished and new: our table honors the past, celebrates the present, and heralds a bright new year.

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Decorating Goes Droolworthy: Pet-friendly bedding, feeding, and furniture solutions!

In the United States alone, there are nearly 70 million pet pooches and almost 75 million kitty companions. We love sharing our homes with these adorable, loving, and loyal creatures, but sharing our homes with tacky and tasteless pet furniture? Not so much. Luckily, designers are finally taking into account that pet owners want furniture and accessories that seamlessly fit into our homes instead of sticking out like a sore thumb (err…paw).

Dog bed designed by JM Piers
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Dogs are notorious for finding the coziest spots in the house. Even if you don’t mind them staking their claim to a couch cushion or pillow, having a dog bed (or three) is a great way to encourage them to have their own resting space at floor level. Pet owners now have plentiful options for dog beds, from casual and simple to more ornate and posh (and perhaps even canopied). A dog bed in a vibrant hue offers a fun opportunity to bring a pop of color to the corner of a room.

Dog bed can be found here : Polyvore

For those who count felines as their furry favorites, some kitty-friendly furniture options can even be DIYed. This woven basket was hung on its side with a soft, buttery yellow blanket folded up to serve as a de facto bed. Or try one of these craftsman-made lounging and sleeping options in miniature by Japanese designer Okawa Kagu.

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Ikea hack cat bed found on Row Nest House
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Or try one of these craftsman-made lounging and sleeping options in miniature by Japanese designer Okawa Kagu.
View the collection here : Okawa Kagu Modern Miniature Cat Furniture
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Beyond where pets sleep, their feeding area of pets can be eyesores, not to mention the fact that to a little human crawling or toddling around, those food and water bowls look mighty enticing. Retractable bowls are a great solution: they slide out of sight when not needed and can be arranged to be the perfect, comfortable neck height for feeding fur babies. Keeping pet feeding essentials out of sight when not in use can be extended to other areas as well: a chest could be used for storing large bags of pet food, treats, and toys. In a client’s mudroom, a tall bibliotheque actually served as a dog kennel; we even drilled a hole in the side so the family’s cat could crawl in at night as well!

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Pup & Kit Modern Dog Bed : Pup & Kit Etsy

Finally, one last necessity that tends to distract from a room’s design is a bulky, clumsy doggie or baby gate. Although these gates definitely serve a purpose for little ones with two or four legs, you can use a built-in dutch door or sliding door that fits within the style of your room. These gates are a great way for little ones to still see you, yet be safely contained in their own space.  For most of us, our pets are truly members of the family. While they may not be as vocal about their aesthetic tastes, it’s now easier than ever to find bedding, feeding, and living solutions for them that are comfortable, stylish, and droolworthy in both the literal and figurative sense!

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Photographer: Dominique Vorillon

Design Book Wishlist for the Holidays

With the holidays upon us, we thought we would throw our two cents into the ring if you are stumped on what to get your design savvy friends and family that they can enjoy and be inspired by for years to come.

POETRY OF PLACE : THE NEW ARCHITECTUE AND INTERIORS OF MCALPINE
By Bobby McAlpine, Susan Sully

McAlpine design firm tackles both architecture and interior design, making it perfectly suited for a book that encompasses the internal and external features of the home. Poetry of Place covers 20 diverse projects (including a Tuscan-style horse farm and a unique Florida beach house) that showcase the firm’s trademark timeless style with a modern twist, including.

Poetry of Place can be found here : Barnes and Noble

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL STYLE SECRETS : WHAT EVERY ROOM NEEDS
By Sophie Donelson

For a giftee who wants a focused look at how to transform or elevate certain rooms, we recommend House Beautiful Style Secrets: What Every Room Needs. The bright and colorful photos make it ideal for coffee table browing, but the tome is entirely too useful to stay on display for long. A perfect present for someone who is looking to discover tricks of the trade, this book offers an introductory, intimate, if informal interior design education.

HouseBeautiful Style Secrets can be found here : Abrams Books

DREAM SPACES
By Victoria Hagan

With more than 25 years of experience, Victoria Hagan has honed her craft in homes across the country. In Dream Spaces, she shares the secrets of how she incorporates her clients’ personalities and lives in the interiors she designs, how to combine the new and the antique or vintage, and how to integrate beloved and surprising pieces into a soothing, serene, and comfortable home.

Dream Spaces can be found here : Amazon

HOUSES THAT WE DREAMT OF
By Delphine Krakoff, Reed Krakoff

What happens when Delphine Krakoff (a Paris-trained interior designer) and her husband Reed Krakoff (an American fashion designer) join creative forces to rehabilitate and decorate their own SIX homes? Gorgeous, sophisticated, art-laden interiors, of course! The Krakoffs, who are collectors as well as tastemakers, enlist the helps of A-list clients and friends such as Martha Stewart and Tory Burch to add intriguing commentary.

Houses That We Dreamt Of can be found here : Amazon

THE AUTHENTICS: A LUSH DIVE INTO THE SUBSTANCE OF STYLE
By Melanie Acevdeo, Dara Caponigro

Getting a glimpse into the homes of creative designers, performers, organic farmers, artists and more feels aspirational and inspirational, as if maybe we can discern some of their secrets of greatness (as well as style) by seeing the worlds that they live and work in. The Authentics digs deep, interviewing each subject to better understand how he or she uses a genuine, distinctive voice to create a unique niche as well as beautifully photographing his or her surroundings.

The Authentics : A Lush Dive Into The Substance of Style can be found here : Amazon

Making Small Spaces Feel Bigger

4 TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR SPACE FEEL BIGGER
When we were little, we imagined cartwheeling around our future homes with plenty of space to spare. As adults, however, we understand the dance between size and style and know that finding a home that we love may mean contending with smaller rooms (and putting our cartwheeling dreams to bed). Even if you have to scale down your dreams of a home or apartment with airy, light-filled rooms, you can make the most of your livable space without knocking down walls or making other huge, costly structural changes. Read on for 4 tricks that will help make your space seem bigger.

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1 CREATE SOME CONTRAST
Craft a high-contrast interplay between walls and ceilings through paint color. The difference will create a tromp l’oeil that makes the floor drop and the ceiling look taller. Using a glossy white or a light color for one of these elements also makes the space feel brighter and bigger.

photo credit : 47parkav.blogspot.com

2 GO MONOCHROMATIC
Concentrating on one color creates an endless space that eliminates borders and helps the eye move effortlessly around the room. Don’t be afraid of adding color variations, however, as long as the chosen shades are close in tonal value. Depending on what colors are chosen, a monochromatic room can look modern (think of a kitchen blacks, whites, and/or grays), playful (a Pinkalicious-worthy child’s room) or soothing (a bedroom that’s a study in blues).

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photo credit : lonny.com
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photo credit : theeverygirl.com

3 FOCUS ON THE FLOOR
Congruent flooring helps to create the feeling of smooth, polished, open space. Rooms will appear to flow seamlessly into one another, eliminating the boxy, chopped up feeling that can pervade when individual and small rooms each have their own floor design.

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photo credit : parisdesignagenda.com
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photo credit : Pinterest

4 CHALLENGE THE SPACE WITH DIMENSION-DEFYING FURNITURE
Choose a large-scale piece of furniture to trick the eye. The space itself might appear small, but picking an oversized sofa or chair will make visitors and homeowners alike feel like the space has “grown” to accommodate its size. Just make sure to pick a piece that you adore-it will likely become a major focal point of the room. And do a little measuring and sizing up BEFORE the piece is delivered to ensure it actually does fit!

photo credit : Apartment Therapy

Our favorite 15-minute, kid-friendly trick for lasting, classy, seasonal décor!

The pressure to decorate for the holidays, whether it comes from a trip down the Pinterest rabbit hole or our desire to celebrate the seasonal magic with and for our little ones, comes on strong and long. After all, Halloween decorations start creeping up in stores and displays in July when we are basically still living in our bathing suits!

Seasonal decorating can be time-consuming and expensive, not to mention that neon orange and black may not jive with your painted-in-pastels abode or ultra modern home. Our favorite seasonal décor fix is less conventional, but it can last throughout multiple fall holidays and fit seamlessly into any color scheme and all it takes is a minimal amount of time and a little paint!

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Purchase pumpkins in whatever quantity and size you desire and let your kiddos paint them in colors that match your home and the rooms in it. Or indulge in some paint therapy yourself! You can stick with a monochromatic theme, choose colors that complement those in the room, or even go for a display that incorporates subtle, gradual variations on a color scheme. Metallic colors offer a festive, yet classy look for tablescapes and entryways.

Some pumpkin varieties actually come in white, so you can also simply purchase those for decorating-no mess required. Or if you find velveteen or wooden pumpkins in a shade that matches other items in your display area, invest in a few: you’ll have classic fall decorations year after year. These blue and white beauties add a touch of tactile luxury to a display.

photo credit : brit.co • Follow @pumpkinandaprincess

Sometimes less really is more for holiday décor, and we don’t just mean visually. The less time you spend on lavish and fleeting decorations, the more time you have to create an awesome Halloween costume, sip apple cider, or play in the leaves with your family.

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photo credit : elevengables.com
photo credit : Follow @jshomedesign

How To Turn Inspiring Travel into Design at Home

As fall sneaks up on us, the weather feels cooler and the holidays quickly approach. It's hard not to start looking back on summer already. After a fabulous, life-affirming vacation, coming home can feel like a mixed bag: our creature comforts are here, but we long for the amazing and unique experiences we had. The best way to keep the travel high going is by bringing the essence of your voyages home.

Beyond the basic, more obvious ways to incorporate your voyages afar into your day-to-day lifestyle at home (some of which we included below) are opportunities to truly reflect your experiences, passions, and the education you absorbed while traveling.

One of the great joys in traveling is being exposed to styles different than the ones you gravitate towards when decorating. Perhaps your travels will even awaken you to try out a design trend or feature. For example, a trip to Giverny’s iconic blue- tiled kitchen could give way to the decision to add a similar-hued backsplash in your own home or the courage to curate a room that is centered around one focal color. 

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Changes don’t need to be dramatic or over-the-top either. After seeing long-pile tufted rugs at a chic marketplace in Marrakech and feeling their divine texture underfoot, you can bring that luxury home by trying one out at your bedside, conjuring memories of your vacation each morning when you take your first steps. If you find that rug irresistible, consider obtaining more in an array of styles and colors and layering them for a cozy atmosphere.

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Sometimes the influences of your travel inspirations will less obvious to others. A trip to a faraway place that inspired a love for a new culture and their handiworks, such as the ornate bead work of the Masaai people of Kenya, could be reflected in numerous ways including the addition of handcrafted wire and bead bowls, beaded pillow detailing, or metal accents and embellishments on furniture or hardware. Sharing the origins behind your new acquisitions will allow you to relive your experiences and spread your enthusiasm for these artisanal crafts and wares.

 

Bringing your travels into your home doesn’t need to be costly: a collection of shells, stones, or sea glass make for an eye-catching display and could serve as a creative and striking contrast to modern lines in your home. A walk on the beach with the family could transform into a beautiful display of shells and sands later on in your home, serving as a reminder of quality time spent together.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas if you want to dip your toe into travel-inspired design:

  • Bringing home a piece of original artwork is a wonderful way to support local artisans and to highlight an authentic piece that “spoke” to you during your travels. Every time your gaze falls upon it, you’ll be reminded of your journey and the amazing diversity of artistic talents around the world. Photos (taken by you or by someone else) are wonderful, visually striking mementos that capture a moment in time and space. Print them in large scale for maximum effect or make a collage wall with several images. For a polished, stylized look, print them on metal.
     
  • Start small if you don't have abundant space. You could begin by framing a coin and positioning it in the entryway or by making a home for an antique carving among other works of art you already have on display. Wherever you place your travel tokens, display them prominently so you see them regularly and make sure to give them proper lighting too.
     
  • In addition to serving as a feast for the eyes, travel trinkets can also be pleasurable for other senses. While framing a beautiful piece of lace from Venice or Brussels, a swath of silk from China, or a sari fragment from India makes for a stunning display, these materials are also wonderful when they become a textural design element, such as on a pillow. An antique Tibetan singing bowl looks beautiful on a shelf, but it is also pleasing to the ear.
     
  • Travelers naturally get caught up in the moment and unpack their suitcases to find items they might not wear on a regular basis, such as a kimono. These picture-perfect robes showcase incredible handiwork and add plenty of drama and intrigue to your home. Nearly every item you bring back with you can find a suitable home where its unique nature and appeal can be highlighted.
     
  • If your bags were too full or you simply ran out of time for souvenirs, you can still transport yourself back to your vacation spot with the simple help of a candle or a book. An Ocean Mist & Sea Salt scent will make your feel like you are back on the beach again; a lavender-scented taper soothes and fills your mind with images of running through fields in Provence. Find a coffee table book featuring your vacation location and leave it out as an open invitation to indulge in some an armchair tourism. Or create your own book using snapshots from your trip for a more personal touch. Thumbing through the pages will send you back to your happy place– no passport required!

Whether it’s a sculpture or painting that has to be shipped overseas (therefore, allowing you a little time to decide on its placement!) or a small token such as foreign coins or bills, keepsake reminders such as arts, artifacts, books, candles, and artifacts will sustain your travel memories…and may even inspire you or visitors to your home to take to the roads, rails, water, or sky again soon.

What are some ways that you have brought your summer vacations home into the autumn?