One of the great advantages of living in the 21st century is being able to travel to almost any destination in the world, with relative ease. In the course of just a couple of generations, international travel has gone from being the preserve of the rich and privileged, to being something that almost everybody can enjoy to some degree, regardless of wealth or social status.
Traveling has many benefits, but one of the greatest is its ability to broaden horizons. Traveling opens the mind and tantalizes the senses. It also raises the expectations: after all, who is going to be content with drab, dull décor once they return from visiting the stately homes and chateaux of Europe or the bazaars of North Africa?
It is sadly true that coming home after a trip abroad can be a bittersweet experience, ironically all the more so if the trip has been highly enjoyable, but this need not be the case. The vacation itself may be over, but the colors, shapes, impressions and sensory experiences of much-loved destinations can live on for years yet, within the four walls of home.
Travel can provide great inspiration for interior decor, but it is important to draw a clear line between inspiration and reproduction. Very few people could live easily inside a full-scale replica of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, but translate that idea into a line of mirrors with golden accents, set into a neutral modern interior, or a feature lighting fixture (perhaps a chandelier) against a completely plain white ceiling, and one of the most celebrated pieces of 17th century France is suddenly perfectly applicable to a modern home.
The inspiration can be as direct, or as tenuous, as required, as long as it achieves the objective of reviving those happy memories and travel experiences. Just back from a week in a luxury boutique hotel in New York? Why not recreate it with some gorgeous bedroom furniture in a cutting-edge modern style? Spent a wonderful fortnight on a sun-drenched Greek island? Simply using the dominant colors from that setting – in this case, perhaps blue and white – can transform the look and feel of the home. Suddenly, home need not feel so drab and ordinary.
Even something as simple as the use of light can evoke foreign climes. Why not pare back the design of a room and maximize the natural light, like the Scandinavians do? Or add feature shutters to windows, as is popular in Germany?
Overseas inspiration does not have to end with colors and furniture. Thinking back to a recent trip, what were the dominant sounds and smells? Thanks to the internet it is now easy to purchase music from abroad, so the sounds of rebetiko can echo on past the end of that Greek holiday, and South America can live on in the strains of tango music. Likewise with scent; there is a vast array of perfumes available for the home, in all sorts of forms from scented candles to fragranced oils, and many of them are wonderful aids to evoking the atmosphere of exotic destinations.
Travel can be a source of growth and inspiration: why not factor it in to your own interior design plans?