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Travel-inspired interior design ideas

International home décor tips

Maybe you're a world traveler, a wanna-be wanderer or simply interested in paying homage to your own heritage or favorite vacation spot. Whatever the reason for your desire to add international flavor to your interior design, here are a few tips to help you steer clear of kitsch and put your home decor on the road to a global look.

Living room with travel inspired decor

Minimize maps 'n' things

Travel decor often brings to mind interiors filled with vintage suitcases, sepia-tinted globes and Old World maps, but too many in one space can make a home look like a department store showroom. Stick with just one or two travel-themed accessories like an antique camera and a steamer trunk pulling double duty as a coffee table and extra storage space.

Travel like a buyer

If you're lucky enough to travel to the destination you're theming your interior after, take the opportunity to pick up authentic pieces to accent your home. But don't make the mistake of relying on luck to find the right stuff – you need a definite shopping plan before you board the plane.

First, know your needs when it comes to space, style and measurements. If you only have space for wall art or a small sculpture, you don't want to fall in love with a large piece of furniture.

You'll also need to find out international shipping costs for your potential purchases. Nothing hurts worse than finding a fabulous accent table at a bargain price, only to discover shipping it home is going to cost five times what you paid for it.

Finally, do your research. Arm yourself with a little knowledge on the history and art of the region you're traveling to so you'll be better able to gauge the value and authenticity of potential decor items for your home. Plus, you'll want to skip decorating with souvenir-stand finds and go off-road shopping at out-of-the-way antique stores and local markets. Check out online resources to find the best shopping spots the locals go to for home decor and check to see if any auctions are going on while you're in the region.

International shopping without a passport

If you can't travel to the region you want to theme your international decor after, that doesn't mean you're out of luck when it comes to designing with authentic pieces. Brick-and-mortar stores like Cost Plus World Market and Pier 1 Imports are a great place to start for home decor basics with an international flair, like rugs, drapes and major furniture pieces.

For one-of-a-kind finds, check out exclusive members-only shops like One Kings Lane that are known for making international buying trips to stock their stores with unique home decor items. Auction sites like eBay might also yield some travel-inspired decor items, but this can take a lot of time and dedication to wait for the right pieces to become available.

To find items from a specific region, you might be better off investing that time in searching out boutique stores that import items from your favorite destination. Check out New York magazine's store search feature to discover the best home decor shops Manhattan has to offer. Among the listed shops, you'll find dozens of international boutiques selling home goods imported from around the globe. Their guide offers basic descriptions of each store's merchandise and their brick-and-mortar location information, but with a simple Internet search, you'll find many of Manhattan's shops sell their international home decor wares online as well.

More on interior decorating

5 Ways to personalize your decor
3 Decor styles to blend clashing textiles
6 Quirky storage solutions... including a suitcase table!

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