I’ve just spent a week in the Isle of Man. I’ve been many times before but I think I can say that the weather this time was the best I’ve ever known and my head is now full of the colours of the island and the hand crafts I saw there. But what I really loved this time were the lighthouses – and at least the pictures I took were easy to get home.
We all come back from holiday with souvenirs – be they large or small – and so often when we get them home deciding where to put them is a bit of an issue. There’s something about the romance of shopping at odd times of the day, or after you’ve had a few drinks that leads you to buy things you wouldn’t normally. It’s the equivalent of sale shopping just for the sake of a bargain. And we all know how that works out – with the item never being worn because it doesn’t actually fit very well anyway! So how do you incorporate your holiday treasures into your every day life?
First of all, decide what it is that you love about the country you’re visiting. Is it the colours of the land/sea scape? The hand crafts, glass ware, textiles or carving? The furnishings at the hotel or the authenticity of the places you eat in? Is it the contrast of intensely blue sky and tiny shady alleys or the vast interior spaces of the museums and galleries? Without us realising it, the environment we’re in plays a big part in the reason we want to ‘bring it home’ with us. If we can identify what we’re most attracted to then it’s more likely that the purchases we end up making will relate to that aspect of the holiday. For example one of my first holidays in Greece about 25 years ago, I came home with several very simple ceramic pots glazed in blues and greens. It was all about bringing the colours of the villages home with me – I still have them.
Then, put your practical hat on. How will you get the purchase home? Don’t get caught up with the excitement of haggling in the souk and think you’ll just be able to take it on the plane with you. If the cost of shipping it is a deal breaker, walk away! Some countries have very strict export laws and won’t allow you to just tuck it under your arm; carpets from Turkey spring to mind. And if you’re shopping for a specific item to go in a specific room, please, please measure it before you go on holiday! Even take a picture of that room on your phone so that you can see the space in front of you while you shop. That sounds mad I know, but it’s so easy to forget the exact shape of a room – and the other things that live there.
Next, keep in mind the other colours in your home. Buying something because you love the colour is perfect – I do that all the time – but does it go with the decorative palette of your home? If it doesn’t, exercise restraint because it’ll stand out like the exotic raspberry that it is – unless you intend to change your decor as a result of the holiday! And there again I would suggest caution. The clarity of light in hot, sunny climates is very different to that of the British Isles and some intense shades, especially in the red/orange/yellow end of the spectrum will seem uncomfortably ‘hot’ in this climate. For this reason it’s better to use shades that give the ‘feel’ of the location than to try and replicate them exactly.
Then there’s the matter of how to display things when you do get them home. Textiles will get all dusty and look less than fabulous if they’re left out in the open and ceramic tiles or carvings will be vulnerable to chipping or being dropped if they’re not protected. Consider getting them framed, it makes a piece so much more special to enclose it. It demands attention and will be persevered indefinitely if care is taken in the way it’s presented. Glass domes also work well for more bulky treasures and add a feel of the exotic to a piece.
One of my clients has incorporated her holiday purchases to great advantage in the decorating of her home. They add character and personality and each piece has a story, both about the experience of purchasing it and its history as an object. But here’s her secret, she edits. Regularly. Some parts of her home are on their third decorative ‘tenant.’ And as she loves to travel, I imagine that there will be more in the future. And then there’s my friend who loves her snowboard so much – she chose it for the artwork – that she’s purchased hooks to suspend it from the wall in her bedroom.
It is very easy to get it wrong too. I got completely carried away in Marrakech one time and came home with more light fittings than was practical. They weren’t well made and I didn’t have any idea where I would use them but I just got swept up with the excitement of haggling and every time I walked away, they’d add to the ‘deal.’ Before I knew it I had six light fittings of various sizes – if you don’t want something or have no idea what you’ll do with it – don’t buy it!
Have a happy summer and enjoy your holiday.