Summer is in its final throes and people are squeezing in their family vacations before the kids are back in school and the weather turns cold. What does this have to do with interior decorating? Well, we all know someone with a collection of souvenir spoons or a cabinet full of Disney figurines, right? You probably even have your own little collection of vacation memorabilia and I think this is a great idea.
I firmly believe that a home should be decorated to reflect the tastes and personalities of its occupants and your travels and collections are a part of who you are. But finding the perfect token from your trip, something you’ll love displaying in your home that isn’t tacky can be difficult.
The first tip, don’t decorate your home with items you find in t-shirt shops or in tourist traps. Alligator heads with “Visit Orlando” painted on the forehead just don’t convey great taste to your guests. Instead head out to some of the smaller surrounding towns. This is generally where you’ll find the real treasures.
In fact, to narrow your search a little do some research before you leave home. Find out what you can about the local culture. Is the region known for its Asian influenced art, are they world renowned silk producers, is it a good area for antiquing, how about precious metals or gemstones? Each region of the world is known for something and there is some way to incorporate a souvenir that conveys the spirit of that place without having that town’s name stamped on it.
The research may take some time and narrowing down your wish list may take some creativity but it can also turn an afternoon of shopping into a treasure hunt and a cultural experience. I’d like to share a little story from my home state. I’m from Wisconsin and we’re obviously known for our cheese. I’ve shipped cheese curds across the country and had people visit and demand we stop at the local cheese haus. But cheese isn’t really a great souvenir but a little creativity can take you a long way. I recently saw a visitor to the state tear himself away from the water parks to make his way to a farm auction he had read about online. The experience itself was unique for an out of state visitor (and free!). And he came up with a fabulous treasure, a large antique milk can that screams Wisconsin but in a really tasteful way. And tucked into a corner of the living room holding a dried floral arrangement it is a great reminder of his vacation.
If you have done the research and are willing to be creative about your purchases you may still run across a common problem. Buying something and then never using it. It happens to everyone, you see something that you love and buy it and then when you get home you realize you really don’t have a place for it. So your souvenir gets put in the basement and you promise yourself that someday you’ll find a spot for it, but you never do.
There is a simple solution to this problem, bring photos of your house. It may sound a bit silly to bring photos of your home on vacation but this little tip is really useful. In fact it’s not only good for vacation but all of your shopping trips. And if you want to take it a step further, write the measurements of the room on the back of the photo. This way you’ll know if that Persian rug you fell in love with on your vacation not only matches your living room furniture but also if it will fit in the room.
Bring pieces of your travels home so you can refresh you memories and share them with others but make sure you’re bringing home something you’ll treasure for years to come.