19 Easy Ways to Show Off Your Souvenirs at Home
Keep your vacation memories where you can enjoy them all year: as delightful decor in your home. These clever ideas will have you rethinking the mementos you pick up along your travels!
Photo By: Jason Deines
Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions
Serve Up Reminders
“When I travel, I tend to skip the cheesy souvenir shops,” says Ginnie Leeming of Hello Little Home. “Instead, I look for souvenirs that will fit in with my decor.” This beautiful hand-painted bowl adds an inviting touch to the kitchen countertop and reminds Leeming of the lively colors and surroundings she experienced while visiting Mexico. “From the beautiful ocean sunsets to the local markets, vibrant color is everywhere there,” she recalls.
Leeming also loves photography-filled coffee table books that celebrate her travels. Here, she shows off an eye-catching tabletop display created with a few of her favorite finds. In addition to colorful hardcovers, Leeming incorporates a hand-painted trinket box and vintage figurine. “Seeing these souvenirs in my home everyday instantly brightens my mood and brings back fun memories,” she says.
Why incorporate souvenirs into your decor? “The memories attached to an item are important,” says Jennifer McMurray of The Bachelorette Pad Flip. “So why pack those away when you get home? I think one should relive those fun memories as much as possible!” Here, colorful postcards are clipped with clothespins along twine that’s tacked inside a salvaged frame. The result is a bright, versatile display that can be quickly changed up in minutes. Plus, according to McMurray, it's also a great way to display Christmas cards during the holidays.
Find Your Seat
Without a purpose, says Erin Souder, owner of Earnest Home co., a travel souvenir is just a knick-knack. “If I can, I like to bring back textiles, art prints or little bowls for nuts or candy. Sometimes, if I fall in love with a piece, it forces me to think outside of the box, which is fun!” This kilim runner-turned-upholstery is a gorgeous example. “It would have been great in a long hallway,” Souder says of the textile, “but I don’t have any hallways in my house, so using it to upholster something was my next thought. A long bench showcases the pattern the best and paired well with my farmhouse dining table, so it was a win-win!”
Keep It Popping
Celebrate fond memories long after the bottles are empty with this uber-creative use of corks. Souder is the oenophile behind this cute and useful craft. “I’m a big wine fan and have a lot of bottles that were special or that I wanted to remember,” she says. “Typically, I write the date on the end of the cork as well, so this was a way to display them in a functional way.” While this may be a project that’s in the works for a while, we think getting there is (more than) half the fun. Cheers!
Beautify the Bookshelf
“Traveling is one of our passions,” says Damaris Coll of The Cat You & Us. “We want to keep all the experiences at home with us as a powerful reminder not only of how lucky we were to live them, but also of all the adventures awaiting us!” Coll likes to mix and match all types of mementos — from nesting dolls to colorful candy tins — that are small, yet evocative. She says bookshelves are a prime spot for souvenirs “because they represent something similar to what a book brings you: a fun and a fulfilling experience.”
“My childhood summers were spent in St. Joseph, Michigan, not far from Holland, Michigan, and I just loved going to the Dutch Village in Holland,” recalls Sarah Ramberg of Sadie Seasongoods. “And now, every time I look at my project, I feel like a kid on summer break again. You can't beat that!” After attaching the wooden shoes to an old plank of wood, Ramberg simply packed dainty plants into potting soil. Her pro-tip for watering? Disposable plastic pipettes to inject into the soil instead of watering from the top. Genius!
Vacation in a Jar
“All of these beach treasures came from the shorelines of southwest Florida, Sanibel and Captiva,” says Ramberg. “They are some of the best souvenirs, as long as the shell is empty! They're gorgeous, free and can be easily incorporated into home decor in any number of ways." After collecting her beachy finds, Ramberg enjoyed hunting down the antique aqua Mason jars to display them. She points out the bubbles captured in the old glass, a fun detail that adds to the underwater appeal.
Stitch a Ride
Check out this clever combination of vintage ephemera and simple, hand-stitched embroidery that highlights road-travel routes. Ramberg explains, “I go on a lot of road trips and have a love of vintage road maps. So, when I wanted to try my hand at embroidery for the first time, I decided to pair them together, and I loved the result!”
Favorite Fabric Finds
Sometimes, beautiful decor results from necessity, as with these ornaments crafted from vintage silk scarves. “We have a large bay window, and I'm always worried that small songbirds will crash into it,” explains Ramberg. “I wanted to create a unique, upcycled project to solve my concerns.” And this pretty three-in-one project — sun-catcher, bird deterrent and travel memento — was created! On her voyages, Ramberg looks for scarves with friends’ favorite colors of favorite destinations to make personalized sun-catchers for them, too.
Each time Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore visited family in England, she was drawn to the colorful souvenir tea towels she spotted in the shops. When her son asked to inject a bit of British flair into the family’s sunroom, she finally had a perfect use for those stashed-away linens. “The beauty of tea towels is that they are sold everywhere and generally inexpensive to purchase,” Gunn says. “You can create an envelope-back pillow in a matter of minutes.” Finishing off the cushions with coordinating remnants and fun trim really makes them pop.
You might not think of spices as souvenirs, but what better way to bring home the flavors (and smells) of your journeys? After a trip to Turkey, Jenna Bain of Hello Young Lions XO said, “Turkey is just so beautiful and vibrant. Walking through the Grand Bazaar with thousands of colorful lanterns sparkling overhead and store after store displaying sculptural pyramids made from spices was such an awesome experience. I'd never thought of spices as decorative before, but shopping in Turkey totally changed my perspective on that!”
As boring as a box of rocks? This incredible DIY is anything but! One of our favorites from Joni Lay, a few hardware-store staples are reimagined into a showplace for a summer’s worth of collecting adventures. The pegboard grid allows for a variety of shapes and sizes of rocks and stones, and the result is as customized as they come!
Focus on the Journey
“Long ago, I had an idea that I'd like to collect a Christmas ornament from each country that I visit, but that turned out to be harder than I expected,” says Angela Neese Rathbun of Blue i Style. So instead, she decided to create her own ornaments with maps to commemorate each of her travel destinations. “My number one priority was to make the ornaments simple enough that it will be quick and easy to add more over the years as we check more cities and countries off of our travel bucket list,” she says.
Show and Shell
“My life is all about collecting, so my home reflects that mindset as well,” says Kristen Scalia, owner of Kanibal & Co. “There is a difference between eclectic and cluttered, though, so I try to group souvenirs into collections so the visual stories are contained.” Here, Scalia lined a shadow box with an antique-map print to create an interesting backdrop for a selection of seaside treasures. “Surround yourself with the things you love, and you’ll feel the warmth of summer throughout the year.”
Whether it’s lavender that recalls a respite in Provence, bougainvillea from a jaunt to San Antonio or even a handful of pansies from a friend’s garden, keep happy memories bright and fresh with this DIY using pretty pressed flowers. This simple serving tray is crafted from plexiglass and leather cord and serves as a beautiful reminder when used for a breakfast in bed or a tabletop display. Get the instructions here.
A Place for Lace
From Belgium to Budapest and Montana to Maine, if a destination is known for its linens and lace or boasts a few fabulous vintage shops, doilies make for unique and easy-to-pack souvenirs. With your collected treasures and a few simple stitches, you can create a one-of-a-kind table runner that not only serves as a stunning focal point, but also a collage of your vacation memories.
“Souvenirs make your home feel more personal and lived in, and it’s a great way for your guests to get to know you better,” says Daniela Lukomski of Austin Styled, who created these gorgeous hand-painted coasters from ceramic tiles she discovered while traveling. “This project is incredibly simple to do,” Lukomski shares. “And when someone asks where they can buy those coasters, you can say, ‘Oh, I made those from tiles I found hidden in the flea markets of Montemarte!’” Or a souk in Morocco or an artisans’ craft fair in Sante Fe or...well, you get the idea!
“I get inspired by traveling to places with breathtaking views and colorful cities and people that are full of life. My travels to Spain and Australia had me swooning over everything in sight, and I just couldn’t get enough. The more culture, the more inspiration,” says Lukomski. “The photo I chose for this wood image-transfer project is a Slim Aarons photograph taken in Palm Springs. His work is very vibrant in color and features celebrities doing amazing things in amazing places."