Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Using Travel Souvenirs in Decorating

We all take vacations. Some near, some far away.  We tend to want to bring back a souvenir to remind us of the fun times we had. Do you have some ill-chosen objects that hang around gathering dust? That little Eiffel Tower sold at every street corner in Paris? An "Illinois State" spoon from a truck stop?  Yeah, been there, done that.

Years ago, when I got to start traveling  because of my husband's business travels, I realized that I didn't just want another object to collect dust and clutter up the house.  I started looking for things from each place that I could decorate with.  I wanted objects that reminded me of my trip, but added to my home's decor.  So much of my decor has a story attached to it now.

It all started with these violins:
When I travel overseas, I like to check for local flea markets and look for my souvenirs there.  I can often find very unique items for a much lower cost.  I found these violins on two seperate trips to Paris and got them for under $15 each.  My husband and daughters all play the violin, so they were objects that would not only remind us of our trip, but match our family's interests.  That makes our decorating more personal to us.

My husband has always loved money and coins from other countries. After dusting his mason jars full of it for years, I finally decided it was time to figure out how to display them.

We can pick up a few coins for just a dollar or two and keep adding to the collection.  In fact, we have enough bills from new countries that I need to make another collage of them.

Smaller items can be grouped together to make a stunning display.  I used old postcards, bookmarks, and a few inexpensive prints from various places to put  together a disply in our master bath.  Maybe a weird place to some people, but we're the ones that see it every day and know what memories are attached to each of those objects.

Another fun souvenir you can get for decorating  are maps.  Both my husband and I love them.  We picked this one up in Bermuda:

One of the best things I've ever found at a garage sale was a mat cutter.  Now I can frame these maps and these unusal-sized prints easily and cheaply.  I love maps, but you can run out of wall space quick.  That's why I like to keep looking for other objects to use.

While we lived in Japan, my daughters and I scoured used shops to find these traditional Japanese wooden "Kokeshi" dolls.  Grouped together, they make a cute display:

(see those other objects that DON'T match- momentos from other trips before I started shopping for a purpose-jade elephant from China, wooden frog from Malaysia and a German house!)

Of course, your trip photos can make some of the best decor around your home. Blow a few up nice and big or photoshop or picnik them to Black and White or Sepia tones.

(An antiqued photo I took in Italy and 3 photos I took in B&W in France.)

You can also make one of these huge map boards to keep track of where you travel, as well as display a few photos:

(see details of how to make this in my earlier post here.)

Internet Inspiration:

I found some more inspiring ideas of what you can bring back from your vacations that can cost little or no money, but have great decorating possibilities.

Memory jars: Fill jars with sand, shells, driftwood, small photos, etc and label. Display together for added effect. 

Look at those shelves full of jars!  Cool vintage effect.

I love this idea of writing the trip location, date and simple memories on a rock or two from everywhere you go. Display in a unique glass urn or vase.  You could do this same thing for your golfer. Have them write their score and date of those golf trips and start a collection that is full of memories and looks fun when collected together.

How cool would a display of these collected rocks be?  Pick up a heart shaped rock everywhere you go, label and display in a shadow box. The kids would love helping with this, yet limit the number of rocks they're allowed to bring home! I really want to start this tradition with my kids.

As you travel, have the kids help you look for objects and architecture that looks like letters.  Plan to spell out your family name or the trip location and put together in a frame when you get home.

Look how fun this simple-to-make display of matchbooks would be.  You could use new ones from you trips or look at flea markets for vintage ones.

This is a fun display of just vintage and visually grahic book covers! I love all the colors and designs.  There's nothing I love more than an old book shop in Europe. The dusty leather small is wonderful!


(country living)

How about framing your trip fliers, menus and tickets like this:

(Martha Stewart)

What about looking for unique pieces of china at flea markets and put together a stunning display like this:

Here are a fun few ideas using your trip photos:

I love the proof sheet look to these framed collage of summer shots. Heck, if you can find a turtle shell, bring it home!

I love the bright colors used in this summer vacation display.  Many of the photoshop and picnik(free) let you turn those colors up to really pop.

(southern living)
I love how these are grouped and themed so that each framed collage is a seperate trip, yet the whole wall is of all the family's travels. I like how they labeled each collection.

(tracey vue)
Make a vintage-looking poster of your trip.  Use that 70's effect on one of your photo editing programs.

(via poppytalk)
How easy would this display idea be to change out? Put new photos, vintage postcards and your trip maps up after each trip and rotate the display regularly.

Of course, you could go overboard with your trip photos and do this:
Watch out for a strong breeze!!

How about taking your trip photos and using your editing software to turn them into coloring pages for your kids?


Wouldn't that be fun for a present to help the kids remember during the year the fun memories they made during summer break?

How about finding a couple of pieces of driftwood and make a version of these cute sailboats?  Love these!

Some countries I've been to have been very famous for their fabrics.  I've been known to look up fabric shops so I could buy a meter or two of a gorgeous fabric and us it to make a pillow or recover the seat of a chair!

When you head out on your next trip, try to decide what it is you would like to find to decorate with and be a more meaningful momento.  Enjoy looking for that unique something that just screams YOU!

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

17-Foot Drapes

After six years of being in this house, I've started to get the itch to change the first things I did to our home when we moved in.  First up, I was ready for something different in our large, two-story family room.  These curtains needed to be a little over 17 feet long and finding that much fabric at clearance prices wasn't easy.  While visiting family in Utah this summer, I scored at "Home Fabrics".  I hit their clearance sale and found what I was looking for.


While not bad, I was really ready for something a bit warmer, yet still fairly neutral. I found this lovely burnt orange striped fabric for $3 a yard (can you say "YIPEE!!") and some great textured fabric to recover the cornice boards.


I hung the drapes from the same knobs (finials) as the old curtains.

I made very deep pencil-pleats so they could be seen better from below and to dress up the tops. I found the tie-backs for $2 each at the same sale!
I'm not happy with the art above the armoire, but I'm on the hunt.  I want something large, architectural and unique for that spot. I'll know it when I see it.  Until then, these $30-for-the-pair art works with the colors in the room.
I found this great bamboo leaf fabric to make a few throw pillows.  I had 3 down pillows already that I just quickly recovered.
This is looking into the family room from the adjoining dining room. I found the two iron pieces not long after we moved in to hang from those cutouts and soften all the angles in this house.
A few of the accessories in the room, including the trunk redo I featured in an earlier post (here.)

Looking down from the landing half-way up the stairs. I found the two ottomans for $5 and recovered them in faux leather and added legs. You can also see my favorite chair I found from and old Adirondack Hotel.  I've recovered that chair at least 3 times.  I love how the leopard print lends something a little unexpected and fun to the room (oh yeah, and the rock band equipment is fun too!)

As if hanging the curtains wasn't enough, we decided to finally tint our upper windows to cut down the glare, furniture fading and be more energy-efficient.  My man's awesome!

Enough pictures for you?! I also took some of the drape-making and cornice-covering process that I'll save for another post.  So, anyone need my old set of 17-foot drapes?!!!

Go to this post to see the new Sconces we installed.  I LOVE these ones so much more!

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