The Personalizing Your Space Series – “Turning Travel Mementos into Artful Pieces”

You will hear me talk a lot about Personalizing Your Space because I think this idea is so important in turning a house into a home.  This post is the first in what I hope becomes a regular series on tips to bring style to your space in a way that is meaningful to you and reflects your personality.

It really is pretty easy to go out and buy pretty things to liven up your space, and that’s so great!  Especially with stores like Target  , World Market , IKEA , and more stepping up their home decor game at budget-friendly price points.  However, these items serve one purpose, they are essentially window dressings that you buy, place in a designated spot in your home and then forget about them.  They don’t really mean anything to you.  Now I definitely have quite a few of those kinds of buys sprucing up spots in my house but, over the years, I have tried to become more conscious of choosing decor pieces that are meaningful to me and my family in our home decor.  One way I have done this is by collecting items from our travels.

As I sit writing this post it is currently a dreary, drizzly, 36 degree day in Kansas City.  The rain is turning into a slushy freeze on our front walkway and I had to break down and rent the kids a movie so that they would stop bickering and climbing the walls from the boredom of being stuck indoors for too long!  It is always at this post-holiday funk time of the year when the days are mostly cold and grey that I get a super strong urge to just get away.  I would so much rather be lying on a beach on some exotic island, or country-hopping through Europe, or hitting the slopes in Jackson Hole than facing the feat of taking down Christmas decorations and detoxing from all that holiday cheer.  However, as much as I dream of the jet-set life, that often isn’t a realistic possibility.  Those pesky little things like work, kid’s school and endless activities, money, etc. just seem to get in the way.  So, on those days that I’m dreaming of Hawaii but, in reality, sitting in a pick-up line at school, it makes me happy to see little travel mementos that are placed throughout our home.  Is it the same as being on that beach?  No.  But it does bring back happy memories and it tells a story about fun times we have had.

My husband and I have been so fortunate to have been able to do some really amazing travel over the years.  A few years back I started looking for items in the cities and towns that we visited that would be neat pieces to display in our home.  These items often weren’t expensive or fancy pieces, but unique little things that were special to us.

As I started building our little travel collection I became very aware of friends who did the same in their homes.  I have heard some fantastic stories from friends simply by asking about a certain decor piece in their home, and that is what personalizing your space is all about!

Below are some examples of how we have incorporated travel mementos into our home decor.  I have also included pictures from a friend’s home who was so generous to share some of their travel finds as well!

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I am married to a Louisiana boy so we have spent a lot of time in one of my absolute favorite cities in the U.S., New Orleans.  I came across these prints from a local artist at a little artist’s co-op on Royal Street in the French Quarter.  I was drawn to the bright colors and whimsical style that the artist used to depict various spots in the Quarter. To me, these prints capture the life and artistry that is so abundant in New Orleans.  I framed the prints with bright colored mats and black and gold frames to keep with the New Orleans style.  These prints are located in an entryway in our home and they make me smile every time I look at them.

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Carved mahogany giraffes sit on a shelf in our living room.  These were a gift from a friend’s visit to Africa.  While I myself have not been to Africa, you get a sense of culture and artistry used in creating this beautiful piece.

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Sometimes, while “touristing” through countries you can luck up and get some pretty great shots on your own camera.  It’s actually not that hard given the beautiful architecture that you often see abroad.  The beautiful buildings make great photo subjects.  This print I took on my first trip to Europe with my husband in Venice, Italy.  It hangs in the built-in shelves of our living room.

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While visiting Barcelona, Spain I loved Antoni Gaudi’s colorful tile mosaics benches in Park Guell.  I walked around for the better part of an hour looking at the mosaics and taking close-up pictures of the different colors and patterns.  I didn’t exactly have a plan for these shots but when we added our master bathroom they worked out to add a perfect pop of color to the neutral color palette of the space.  They are bright and cheerful and abstract and unique.

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Another Barcelona shot hangs in our bedroom.  We came across these pigeons nesting in the walls in the Gothic Quarter.  I made the wooden feather art to complement the picture.

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This little golden elephant studded with colorful stones was a gift from a friend’s trip to India.  He sits on our dresser next to a decorative bowl from West Elm that is filled with stones and topped with a (low maintenance!) air plant.  The stones also have meaning as one was collected from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Spain and others from a fishing trip in Alaska.

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This cheerful little elephant and decorative box were gifts from a family member’s trip to Prague and Poland.  They were given to our daughter and sit proudly on her bedside table.

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Next we visit my friend’s home!  These antique gingerbread molds were from a trip to Williamsburg, VA and add character to the couple’s kitchen.

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A humidor from a trip to London decorates a shelf in the home with antique calligraphy brushes found in an outdoor market on a trip to China.  A second antique humidor from a trip to Spain decorates the coffee table next to a carved bowl from a visit to Africa.

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A trio of Spanish guns found in an antique shop in Spain add a masculine touch to the wall space of the couple’s sitting room.

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A tribal mask found in an outdoor market on the couple’s trip to Africa sits next to a Tibetan Prayer Wheel purchased on a trip to China.

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A sofa table in the family’s living room features a water jug and tribal club from their trip to Africa.

These items bring back memories for the couple of the amazing cultures and countries that they have visited over the years.  The husband mentioned how it was funny to look at some of the items now and see what he thought was “cool” when he was younger and traveling.  Special mementos around the home can take you back years in a second, and bring back sights, sounds and the feel of time spent somewhere new as well as add a unique and global feel to the home.

Travel mementos can range from splurging on a piece of art or an antique from another country, to simply creating artwork from personal photos.  It can truly fit any budget. However, if a piece has meaning to you, whether it be an investment piece or bargain find, if it holds memories and stories, that is what makes it priceless and that is what personalizes your space.



1 Comment

  1. Sandra P Haynie
    March 7, 2018 / 3:22 am

    Love the stories one can tell. Travel treasures to brighten a dull day!

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