Whether you’re a global traveler or just an admirer of ethnic artifacts, these tips and tricks will bring a sense of international flair into your home.
Section by Somer Tejwani
You don’t have to be a connoisseur of Turkish textiles, have an encyclopedic knowledge of Asian rarities or have your pulse on the latest in Parisian flea markets to incorporate global design in your home’s decor. The shrinking world means more ethnic fabrics and handcrafted artworks are easily accessible and, therefore, effortlessly added to traditional or modern spaces.
Laguna Beach interior designer John Wooden says you can rely on vintage pieces like pottery or furniture, and mix artifacts from your travels, to give your home an acquired global feel. “Stay away from manufactured products and stick with handcrafted furnishings,” he cautions. “When you get one-of-a-kind pieces, especially from your travels, it’s so much more interesting and adds an authenticity. It creates a space that can’t easily be duplicated.”
John, who has been a designer for more than 20 years, says his greatest influence was his time studying in Paris. Now, when he travels to discover new decor finds for clients’ homes, he likes to search the flea markets in Paris, Antwerp in Belgium and Bali in Indonesia, which he says are all incredible resources. Globally, certain regions are known for their handcrafted items. For instance, John favors Moroccan and Tibetan rugs for their texture, colors and patterns, and Bali for its hand-carved pieces.
If you do plan on picking up items while traveling, John advises to research the right shippers so that you’ll have a reliable resource to transport your finds. “If not, you can always buy small, interesting items you can pack with your dirty clothes so they don’t break in your suitcase,” he adds. “And some artwork can be rolled in a tube and later framed.”
If global shopping isn’t in your budget this year, think locally. “… Juxtaposition in Newport Coast always has really interesting things they curate, and Lee Stanton has a place called Stash [at South Coast Collection in Costa Mesa] that is really cool and has a lot of great products,” he says.
One of the biggest challenges with global design is making it look cohesive. Infusing a Tibetan aesthetic with a French flair isn’t as easy as decorating in an all-modern style or even all art deco. Mixing and matching colors, patterns and textures from different regions, and even different time eras, can get complicated. John says to simply choose colors and materials that complement each other. For example, unless you are going for a rainbow scheme, limit the color palette to three or four main hues within the same tone—think bold shades and pastels.
The best thing about global design? Your home won’t look like anyone else’s. Think outside the box when it comes to decorating with your new finds. John saw an image on Instagram of wooden clogs from Holland that were painted in different colors and covered a whole wall. “I’ve also taken the bottom wheel portion of cobra baskets and created a grid of them on a wall in a contemporary home—it created a stunning arrangement of natural elements. And you can also take beautiful Balinese wood carvings and create an arrangement with an odd number—like 21 beautiful wooden birds arranged on a wall.”
Whichever way you style your home, one thing is for sure: It will be just as distinctive as the memories that got you there.
Outfit your home in worldly pieces found right here in Laguna.
There’s no need to travel halfway around the world to find unique artifacts to adorn your abode; several local decor shops already have put in the mileage for you. Here, discover our top picks for making an international impact.
Wildwood’s Kiki Lamp, price upon request, at Between the Sheets, Newport Beach (949-640-9999; betweenthesheetsinc.com)
Moroccan pouf, $199, at Odyssey Imports, Laguna Beach (949-272-0129; odyssey-imports.com)
Oggetti’s Bamboo Drum Suspension light, $770, at Lightopia, Laguna Beach (949-715-5575; lightopiaonline.com)
Councill’s Chu Buffet, price upon request, at von Hemert Interiors, Laguna Beach (949-494-6551; vonhemertinteriors.com)
Turkish hand towels, starting at $18, at Nuance Boutique, Laguna Beach (949-494-8833; lisamcdennon.com)