Travel has taken off as a décor theme; here's how to add the look in big and small ways.

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When Melissa Smuzynski was expecting, she wanted a nursery that reflected her family’s love of travel.

But when she and her husband, Damon Lane, went shopping for appropriate décor a few years ago, they didn’t find much.

So they improvised, using luggage tags and airmail envelopes to create wall hangings. They found a fun suitcase to display in the room, and decoupaged a table with maps and travel-oriented scrapbook paper. The look came together pretty easily and inexpensively, says Smuzynski, who gave birth to daughter Avery in February 2015.

“This reflected who we are,” says Smuzynski, who wrote a blogpost about the effort on her website, “Travel has always been a significant part of our lives.”

In just a few years, the trend seems to have taken off. “When I go into Hobby Lobby, there’s an entire section that looks exactly like her room,” says Smuzynski, of Oklahoma City.

Many interior decorators, home-goods manufacturers and trend spotters have embraced the travel theme. Some people decorate with pieces they bought on vacation or that remind them of past trips. Others add furniture, lighting and other elements that evoke the look and feel of places they’ve visited.

West Elm Leather Moroccan Poufs, $299 each
West Elm Leather Moroccan Poufs, $299 each

It’s all part of a trend toward making décor personal and customized, says Donna Garlough, style director for online home store Wayfair.

“These days, people crave homes that speak to them and their interests rather than one that was decorated in one fell swoop. And travel is one of those things that can really shape you, so it’s no wonder people want to reflect their favorite memories and destinations in their home’s décor,” says Garlough, whose book, “Your Home, Your Style,” will be published this spring.

Laura Casey of Laura Casey Interiors in Charlotte, North Carolina, designed a dining room inspired by a zebra photograph that clients had purchased during a trip to Africa. She incorporated complementary colors, textures and patterns, using Moroccan-inspired tiles to help the room feel travel-inspired and eclectic.

Wall hangings are an easy way to add travel elements to a room, Casey says. Consider framing one of your photos or buying a print or art piece while traveling, she says.

“One of my clients has family photographs from many countries they have visited. In their kitchen and den we made small gallery groupings to represent each trip,” she says. “It keeps the room casual and family-friendly, while also allowing the family to be reminded of their adventures.”

Souvenirs are an obvious way to reference your travel, says Danielle Whitburn, a freelance writer for But there are other options, as well.

“I love pieces that make a subtle nod to another place or memory — a bicycle bookend that reminds you of riding by the shore, for example, or a pillow that reminds you of the color of a certain lake or sea,” says Whitburn.

From left: Ikea Edelvik Zebra Poster, $3; Williams Sonoma Home Parisian Bistro Side Chair, $295 at
From left: Ikea Edelvik Zebra Poster, $3; Williams Sonoma Home Parisian Bistro Side Chair, $295 at

Garlough agrees. “Rather than collecting souvenir spoons and refrigerator magnets like their parents and grandparents, today’s shoppers are incorporating their travel memories in bigger ways, such as an abstract landscape that reminds them of a hiking trip, or whimsical pillows with a beach motif,” she says. “It’s a subtle, constant reminder that they can appreciate every day.”

Of course, it’s also possible to achieve this look without ever leaving home. Moroccan ottomans, Persian rugs and Mexican artwork are distinctive elements that evoke a sense of place and can be bought at a store, Whitburn says.

As for souvenirs, today’s travelers often have a more global approach than in the past.

“As traveling increases (in) popularity, we are seeing more pieces outside the traditional tourist haunts in Europe and North America,” she says.