You're wandering along the rue de la tourist trap when you see a vintage carousel horse outside a music shop. It takes a minute, but you finally realize that it's not the hideously priced music boxes that are giving you that warm, happy feeling. What's really getting you excited is the idea of the cheerful merry-go-round. The same can often be said for castles, garden gates, oriental dressing screens, cheval mirrors, hand-loomed wool throw rugs, brightly colored blown glass and original art prints depicting sail boats. It's the notion behind the object that sparks your imagination and inspires a desire that can feel almost like a physical pang.
This is a good thing. An expensive antique garden trellis may cost a fortune to purchase and transport to your own little castle in the suburbs, but recreating it at home out of reasonably priced materials? That's doable. The same goes for lots of vacation-inspired favorites. You don't need to redo your home in red lacquer to give it Eastern flare, and you don't have to install a fountain in your backyard to give it Italian piazza pizzazz, either. Bring home a few nice mementos of your trip, and use your imagination to reconstruct the compelling essence of the places you visited.
If you haven't been introduced to eclectic décor before, prepare to be wowed. It's a decorating method that unites objects according to something other than period or style. Eclectic décor takes seemingly disparate items and groups them in ways that showcase their intrinsic harmony. That's designer speak for giving you permission to do what you want as long as it looks good in the end.
If that hand-tooled camel saddle makes a great foot rest, use it. If the brass nail-studded serving tray is a nice counterpoint to your Bombay chest, hey, no guts no glory. This works very nicely when you bring vacation booty home with you. Eclectic décor uses color, texture, theme, size and number to create harmony. When you're integrating your vacation finds or ideas into your design, rehearse your choices, and trust your instincts. That's what the experts do.
You don't need to splurge on overpriced vacation purchases to incorporate the ideas they represent into your décor. That wall-mounted serape or balalaika might look cheesy or be way too expensive to bring home, but you can use the idea of them to inspire a feature in your space. Framed prints, wallpaper borders, textiles like pillows and throws, and other accessory items can give your home the feel you want without overloading the space with lots of touristy objects.
Like that heavy Mediterranean furniture look? Add a wrought iron screen to your fireplace. Think those bright south of the border colors are perfect for your kitchen? Incorporate them into throw rugs and café curtains. Need some French charm in your den? Go for a cheerful blue and yellow color scheme.
Want more ways to bring the thrill of your vacation back home? Reproduce the meals you enjoyed while you were away. Yes, those tasty foreign dishes may be easier to make than you think. Add a couple of exotic herbs to your usual repertoire and you'll be able to recreate that bistro experience in your own cozy kitchen. Turn on some authentic mood music, and it'll be déjà vu all over again.