By Sandra Bazzarelli
You’ve traveled extensively and have the souvenirs to prove it. From your hand-carved Hawaiian totems, to your Oriental rug that was double loop knotted in Turkey, to your Lladró porcelain clown from Spain, you’ve amassed a treasure trove that’s as impressive as it’s disjointed. Perhaps each thing tells a story that connects you to it in some profoundly sentimental way. Or, perhaps, the story is simply, “I bought this when I was in Hawaii. Turkey. Spain.” Regardless, each of these things is now yours. And every new addition to your home needs a place to live among your other things that makes interior design sense.
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The last thing you want to do is put all the cobalt blue sea glass you collected on your last Caribbean jaunt next to your cobalt blue candles atop your cobalt blue desk. The monochromatic approach can be effective, but it can also be overwhelming depending on how much of it you’re trying to pull off. The individuality of each entity being displayed will be lost and, soon enough, you will go cobalt blind and not even be able to make out your painstakingly collected Caribbean keepsakes. Your desk isn’t a crayon box, after all. Feel free to invite into the mix the amber and teal sea glass you’ve also gathered. Put it all in a clear glass bowl and set it next to a book that has an amber spine, for example. The idea is to subtly reference the lightest hue present in your Caribbean sea glass with the understated amber found on your book. In this way you will be highlighting the sea glass and, subsequently, your travels.
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Keep Keepsake Kin Together
It really is OK to keep like things together. Maybe you’ve managed to ship back many a sword from your overseas adventures in Japan and Scotland. Or, maybe you’ve picked up more than one doll in Zimbabwe and Italy over the years. Designating an area in your home for said swords or international dolls isn’t as creepy as you might imagine. Peppering your entire house with swords or dolls is much more unsettling. You don’t want your guests to feel threatened by the decorative weaponry you’ve put in every room, or feel like they’re being followed around and watched at every turn by your dolls. Give your swords and dolls their space. Thanks to the culture and craftsmanship associated with each individual sword and doll, none will run the risk being overlooked. Plus, surveying them all together allows for great compare/contrast conversation of the art/history variety. Swords, dolls, whatever you’ve collected can absolutely be displayed as a collection.
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Dare to Be Thematic
Remember when I told you to call forth the amber in your sea glass with a book with an amber spine? Well, guess what? That favorite book is welcome to be about beaches. Or boats. Or anything that tastefully continues the sea theme you’ve established with your sea glass. Maybe you bought a model catamaran one summer when you were on Cape Cod. Why not welcome it aboard? Do your best not to inundate your home with your sea theme, however. The theme should never echo incessantly. Abiding by the Rule of Three atop furniture and the Rule of Five in larger spaces overall should keep your tendency to overdo it at bay. (In case you haven’t noticed, the Rule of Three also applies to short paragraphs and sea-themed puns!)
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Now, if you’re in the Bahamas and you spot a picture frame that boasts a beautiful mermaid motif that goes with your daughter’s mermaid bedroom theme, consider how many mermaids already occupy your daughter’s room. More than five? Buy her a mermaid necklace instead. At least that mermaid will be itinerant.
Don’t Just Shop for Souvenirs — Procure Them
You know your home. If you’re lucky enough to get to travel, be wise about what you invite into your luggage and, ultimately, into your living space. Try to respect your travels enough to know that your experience doesn’t hinge on what you buy when elsewhere. So, bring back memories, lessons and insights above all else, and be discerning about your mementos. If you have no idea how to integrate that Viking helmet into your home, leave it in Norway. If you’re going to go to the trouble of ensuring something makes the long plane ride home with you, you should already have some idea as to where you’re going to put it. So, choose your souvenirs with care. You’ll find that, at the end of your journey, having done so will have made a world of difference at home.