Canít resist buying abroad? Most of us take home reminders of a wonderful place and time. But if your home is starting to look more like Pier 1 than paradise, try these tips for a well-styled global look.
First, the Doníts
Donít be too matchy-matchy, and donít have a British colonial living room flowing into a Louis XIV dining room next to the brightly tiled Italian cucina. Overdoing a single style comes off as scripted and claustrophobic, while ricocheting from country to country will have guests humming that itís a small world after all.
Pick One Room
If a particular country is your nirvana, pick one room to go big in. For me, itís a Swedish bedroom. For a friend of mine, itís an elegant home office with shoji screens that set off the hand-painted scrolls he collected in Japan. Itís best to pick a room that complements the style: a country French kitchen works better than a country French media room.
Separate travel treasures into three groups. First, large or important pieces that are part of the permanent decor. Layer two is all the smaller pieces youíd love to see every day. The final layer consists of pieces that are seasonal or that you donít need to see all the time.
Mix It Up
Pool smaller, could-go-anywhere items to see what looks good with what. Unless youíre a professional decorator, this is the only way to discover those chance pairings that make a room sing. How else would I know have known the African baskets would look so cool on the green Lucite tray from Denmark?
Look For a Theme
Have you ended up with items that serve a similar purpose or whose colors harmonize, even if their origins donít? Most of us gravitate toward certain preferences over and over again, and seemingly random purchases often work perfectly together because their differences are sharp enough to keep things interesting.
Create a Unifying Element
Sometimes itís up to you to tie disparate items together. For example, even professional photos can look like a goulash of postcards, but plain black wooden frames with neutral matting can work wonders. Another trick is to convert travel photos to black and white and use colored pencils to add pops of color and shading. Itís easier than you think and gives memories a personal touch.
Look for ways to incorporate pieces into daily life. That Victorian carpenters plane from Portobello Road makes a great doorstop, while the sweet matryoshka dolls, un-nested, might be just right for storing paper clips, rubber bands, and stray buttons.
A final world: if you really love something make room for it, because joy is the highest aim of decorating.
Heather Johnson writes for Honeymoon Destinations, the best honeymoon research and planning website. Discover some great honeymoon ideas today!
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