Traveling opens us up to various cultures, including their ideas about architecture and interior design. People from different regions draw on their cultures and climates and use those influences when designing the homes they live in.
As we travel, we can become inspired and want to recreate that “look” once we return home. There is a huge commercial marketing push to help you incorporate theme decorating designs into your own homes. I prefer a different approach rather than theme decorating. I love to visit different places and cultures and shop in those areas, bringing back objects that are authentic and remind me of my travels to use in my home and my clients’ homes. I also love going off the beaten path to find artisans who work in traditional regional methods, talking to them about the work that they create and the often-generational methods that have been passed down to them.
When I return home and find special places for these objects, I am reminded of the wonderful places and people I met along the way every time I look at or touch them. Traveling is also a wonderful way to meet people and talk to them about how they live and view the world. Understanding and enjoying other cultures opens up our creativity and shows us different ways of decorating, entertaining, celebrating holidays and sharing our homes with friends.
Visiting homes that reflect their regions’ influences my design work. I try always to squeeze in a house or garden tour wherever we go. Recently, a short trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and a Spring House Tour influenced how I laid out my summer home to comply with my narrow lot and endless town rules. Everything clicked so quickly after walking through some of the beautiful, well-cared-for, in-town homes on long lots there.
Traveling in Denmark and Norway, where winters are long, cold and dark, I noticed that white washes, painted furniture and lots of pale colors are used to combat the bleakness of winter, giving homes that Scandinavian “look” that so many of us love. On the other end of the design spectrum is Morocco. There the heat and tradition of using intense colors and intricate tile patterns always makes me want to bring those influences into my design work and live with pattern on pattern on pattern.
There are so many regional design styles to enjoy, including English Country, French Country, French Modern, Coastal and Western. All these influences are wonderful but can make for a disjointed home if they are all used at once. A different design theme for every room is confusing. You can go full out and create a home with a specific narrative or you can try threading treasures collected from traveling throughout your home. Threading your treasures also keeps it up to date longer, because there is not one specific influence that can “date” a space a few years down the road when one of these theme ideas is no longer fashionable.
Visiting museums in cities worldwide is another huge design influence on me. I’ll often walk through the sections containing paintings. Their colors, both subtle and bold, often trigger color combinations to use in a client’s home. Different color combinations and furniture styles can evoke certain historical periods. Many famous architects and designers are also keenly aware of the natural environment and how that makes us feel. The circulation of air throughout the home was a key factor in Le Corbusier’s Modernist work, while Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, brings nature right into the home.
Traveling to different places and touring historic homes allow you to consider how you would like to live. Urban living has the constant excitement of having many things to do, but you would have to consider if living in a smaller place, often an apartment building, is for you. You might prefer a home with space, gardens and quiet in the country, or maybe the suburbs would give you a combination of both.
Whatever your choice, enjoy the many ways traveling can enrich your life and your home.
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