sneak peek: best of bringing travel home

If you can believe it, summer travel season is just about here. Whether you’re going abroad or staying local, vacations are always too short, and it’s nice to bring home a special memento to keep you going until the next trip. Our sneak peekers are a creative bunch. No souvenir shot glasses for this group (although I’m sure someone would find a way to make them look cool). Whether it’s pillows from Istanbul, a dream catcher from the Navajo Nation or a wool blanket from England, each object found while traveling holds a special place in our hearts. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Most of the textiles in Paige Morse’s guest bedroom in Dallas, Texas, were found in India. The poster on the wall she found for $2 while traveling in Granada, Spain.

This post was sponsored by Discover the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals with Let’s stay together.

Image above: This is one large souvenir! Photographer Aaron Delesie and his wife, Jennifer, spend half of the year traveling for work. This 1800s hutch came from a library in Venice, Italy. It now serves as storage for their dishes and glassware in their Santa Ana, California, kitchen.

Image above: The top rug is from Jordan. It now lives in Max Freeman and Margaret Singer’s Brooklyn home.

Image above: New Yorker Louise Fili has traveled to flea markets all over Italy tracking down these lovely vintage tins. This tin from Perugina is the perfect size to hold business cards and matchbooks from the restaurants for which she has designed logos.

See more “Best of: Bringing Travel Home” after the jump!

Image above: Shirin Sahba and her husband, Na’im Moore, have moved six times in their six years of marriage. The painting above their bed in Beijing, China, was painted by an artist in India.

Image above: Before settling on this kilim rug pillowcase, Jennifer Sarkilahti looked through countless pillowcases in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. She wanted to bring just the right one back to her Brooklyn apartment.

Image above: Jennifer Sarkilahti found this antique rug on the same Istanbul trip. She settled on this one after being charmed by a rug dealer over Turkish tea.

Image above: The small mirrors, basket and slippers in Myriam Balaÿ-Devidal’s home in Nîmes, France, were all found in Marrakech.

Image above: Rigetta Klint’s favorite rattan chairs are from South Africa. Now they look out on her garden in Sweden.

Image above: The beautiful pillowcases were found while Maja Atterstig was on holiday in Istanbul. They work surprisingly well with the Ikea rug in her Malmö, Sweden home.

Image above: The hand-embroidered linen bedspread in Sarah Davison’s Sydney apartment was found on a trip to Morocco.

Image above: The tiny Budda perched atop the books on Sisse Jonassen’s dresser in the Hudson Valley home was picked up on a trip to Bali.

Image above: The bed throw was a purchase from Lavenham, England. The town had been a wool-manufacturing center during the Middle Ages. It now keeps Kate Hayes warm in Brooklyn.

Image above: The rug was brought when Jo Metson Scott was working in Jordan. It now lives in her hallway in East London.

Image above: The ottoman/coffee table in Nicholas Santore and Valerie Ferus’ Philadelphia home was once a farm stool and was found on a trip through upstate New York.

Image above: Rym of Mademoiselle Bagatelles bought the carpets and cushions to her Paris apartment from Tunisia as a memento of her childhood spent there.

Image above: One of the framed posters on Nerissa and Peter’s Vancouver living room wall was brought home from a Jeff Koons show at the Palace of Versailles.

Image above: There are lots of little travel purchases in London-based textile designer Brie Harrison’s living room. The donkey on the shelf is from a boutique in Paris, and the Russian dolls were found in Berlin. The basket on the floor is from a market in St Tropez.

Image above: The white tile in Hillary Petrie’s New Orleans apartment is from the Alvar Aalto museum in Jyväskylä, Finland. The tiles are called “halla,” the Finnish word for “frost.” The clay tile is from the roof of a building in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, that her roommate is currently working on with his architecture firm. It’s a Ludowici tile, stamped from their Chicago factory in the 1920s. The tiles are still made today.

Image above: The dream catcher hanging by artist Lauren Spencer King’s bed in her Los Angeles home was found on a trip through the Navajo Nation.

Image above: Masks found while on a trip to Africa decorate the walls of Asher Israelow and Jamie Goldenberg’s New York City apartment.

Image above: The framed print hanging above the fireplace in Tina and Jochen Frey’s San Francisco living room caught the couple’s eye while on a trip to Tokyo.

Image above: A cart filled with travel finds — silver is a favorite collectible in Australian chef Adrian Richard’s Melbourne dining room.

Image above: These peonies are in a vase from Match, Italy, in Jess and Dustin’s Vermont house.

Image above: The bedspread on Kelli Anderson and Daniel Dunnam’s bed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a traditional Maasai pattern that was acquired while the couple was vacationing in Kenya.

Image above: Heather Chontos found these neon pink love-bird sculptures in Australia. Now they look out her bedroom onto her greenhouse in Montana.

Image above: The flag above Grace Hsiu’s bed in her home in Pasadena, California, was purchased in Colonial Williamsburg and is a little nod to her Virginia roots.

Image above: While on a road trip to the Coachella Valley, leather craftsman Steve Soria spotted this cow skull on the side of the road. The group ended up strapping the cow skull to the front of the nine-person RV they had rented. Steve woke up in the middle of the night by the RV rocking back and forth. He heard growling and dashed outside just in time to see a huge coyote taking off with the right horn of the skull. After the trip, he mounted the cow skull over his fireplace in Santa Barbara, California.

Image above: Charlotte and Ludovic Donker-Toscan du Plantier brought these masks back from Cuba to their home in the village of Correze in southwest France.

  1. julia says:

    Yes! These are the items that make a house a home and begin to tell ones story…. This is one of my favorite posts.

  2. rikrak says:

    love these wonderful ideas – and such beautiful rooms, too!
    isn’t travel splendid!
    and i love how simply lovely these are!

    here’s what i did with one of my favourite travel mementos!

  3. Elise says:

    So inspiring! You can have little bits of the entire world and a lifetime of memories right there in your living room…

  4. Becca says:

    Definitely some of the best sneak peeks! Love this collection of rooms.

  5. Great post topic. My favorite pictures are the ones wherein the object from abroad just adds interest to the room overall, or tells a story– without taking over with an overly “ethnic” vibe. Interesting spaces!

  6. Munya says:

    Love this post! I love bringing “souvenirs” like this home as well. My mom traveled a lot when she was younger (she went to high school in SE Asia) and has many keepsakes from her travels around the house. I grew up hearing stories of the memories of this trips and think it’s a great way to relive the special moments. One of my favorites is our “attenti al gatto” hand-painted tile we have outside the front door (brought back from Taormina, Sicily).

  7. Amy says:

    I love adding things from my travels to everything–even my clothes!

  8. jess says:

    Absolutely love this post, my entire design aesthetic (or at least what my imagined aesthetic would be!) is a combination of practical pieces and the wonderful items I find while traveling – I want everything to have a story!

  9. Iva says:

    I just have to ask: how does one ship a 19th century hutch from Venice to California?

  10. Barbara says:

    Eclectic, colorful, timeless and good humor.

  11. Jennifer says:

    To me, this is what design is all about! Love the selection of images above.

  12. Love these rooms, I treasure all my souvenirs!

  13. Awesome post. Much of the decor in my home has been brought back from travels and I love seeing what other people have done with their mementos. There is something so nice about having a home full of unique memories.

  14. diana says:

    I love this post. love it.

  15. caitlin says:

    My favorite way to decorate. Gives your rooms a special layer of meaning.

  16. kay* says:

    love this post. so much inspiration. i love seeing how others incorporate their travels in their own homes. one of my fave posts on design*sponge to date!

  17. gemma says:

    Oooh, an inspirating and (validating) story. My apartment is full of travel finds – particularly noticeable are the gorgeous rugs and fabrics from Morocco. Some ‘non-visual’ people say my place is full of ‘clutter’, some people say it’s very homey. For me it’s full of constant visual reminders of the places I’ve been far from home.

  18. I love seeing how people display their travel treasures. That hutch from Venice is unbelievable. I’m so jealous!

  19. Molly says:

    Beautiful photos and a well written blog. Best wishes The LLUSTRE Team. At

  20. Loving the collection of vintage tins. It’s great how they take an important place in the home.

  21. Mr. and Mrs. says:

    The rooms just look so … organic! But that is what is beautiful about collecting, it’s done over time and not all at once at a big name store. Inspiring pictures!

  22. Great collection – I think rugs are so great as souvenirs as they often roll up fairly small. I don’t need more ‘nicknacks’ but something like a rug is so practical and beautiful.

  23. sherrie says:

    What an awesome reminder to surround ourselves with things of meaning. This is my method of decorating. It brings me such joy to see the glass bowl of sea shells collected on the beach while home in my landlocked state. I love using photos of our travels and dolls, masks or other finds to remind us of our adventures. The photo above of the daybed draped colorful fabric with it’s exotic looking pillows drew me in. Thanks for the reminder to utilize any finds from this years travels.

  24. ruth says:

    loved looking at all the treasures these travelers brought home.

  25. Kate says:

    My favorite post! I have done a bit of traveling and have collected numerous things from each place, but have struggled with finding ways to incorporate them into our modern apartment. This definitely provided some inspiration on how I can give these little memories a proper place in my home.


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.