8 Designers Reflect on Their Favorite Travel-Inspired Decor Choices

Jill Slater for Apartment Therapy for Isabella Patrick

Jill Slater for Apartment Therapy for Isabella Patrick

It’s no secret that designers find travel—whether local or long distance—to be extremely inspiring and informative to their work. “Travel inspires me in every direction in every place,” designer Marilyn Sygrove said. “I am always taking photos and gathering an inspiration book of architectural details, nature’s gifts, and landscapes for color inspiration. Sometimes it can be a dress in a shop window with luscious fabrics and materials on mannequins or a beautifully presented meal—I am inspired by everything around me, whether near or far.” 

Designer Kelly Hurliman agreed. “The more you travel, the richer and more extensive your library of resources,” she said. “As a designer, the more styles and genres you take in allows you to mix them into your own aesthetic and create eclectic spaces.” 

Here, designers share their top pieces of inspiration from their past trips and the ways in which they have incorporated favorite looks into their own projects. 

  • 01 of 08

    Stunning Slat Wall

    Mansa Krishnamurthy

    Mansa Krishnamurthy

    When making over a music room in her home, design blogger Mansa Krishnamurthy was inspired by the mid-century modern style hotels she stayed in during her travels to Germany and Switzerland and opted to incorporate a large wraparound slat wall. “These hotels were filled with clean lines, warm wood tones, and contemporary furniture,” she reflected. “This is the exact aesthetic I tried to recapitulate.” The end result? A space that not only reminds Krishnamurthy of her overseas adventures but also is nice and comforting. She shared, “The textures in this room from the slat wall, velvet sofa, and woven accessories create a cozy backdrop for us to create and enjoy music.” 

  • 02 of 08

    Designing with Details

    kenyan architecture

    Teri Clar

    Designer Teri Clar has drawn on her most recent trip to the Kenyan coast for major interiors inspo. She most appreciated “the smooth matte terrazzo floors, teak wood planks, intricately detailed brass and silver metals, and archways everywhere.” Clar noted, “I’ve tried to bring this type of detail into a couple of my clients’ designs, and each time the result has been beautiful.” Clar also admired the way Kenyans utilized indoor and outdoor spaces. “What doesn’t translate in every state here in the US, but it is my favorite part of design in the Kenyan coast, is the flow of space from inside to out,” she notd. “Everywhere you go will have an open wall of doors or windows, or even an outdoor shower and kitchen. If your climate allows, I would always try to push the boundaries of your home outside.” 

  • 03 of 08

    Sleek Cooking Space

    Kirsten Francis for Isabella Patrick

    Kirsten Francis for Isabella Patrick

    Sometimes, simple is best! “I love the simplicity of European kitchens, and many clients are opting for the flat Euro cabinet styles,” designer Isabella Patrick explained. “And I'm here for that!” However, there are still plenty of ways to make this look shine and appear eye-catching, nt bland. “For a recent project we paired up this element with added interest on the backsplash, wallpaper, and a bit of glam in the satin brass finishes,” Patrick shared. 

  • 04 of 08

    Beautiful Blue Bedroom

    Jill Slater for Apartment Therapy for Isabella Patrick

    Jill Slater for Apartment Therapy for Isabella Patrick

    “Years ago we traveled to Spain with a great group of friends,” Patrick noted. “It was right around the time I was launching into the design world, and I observed and experienced every part of that journey from a totally fresh perspective.” But it was one hue in particular that stood out. “I was awe-inspired at every turn, first in Barcelona and then Ibiza, where we rented a hilltop villa with an infinity pool view to the Mediterranean,” Patrick added. “I spent hours gazing at the blue waters. That blue and the bleached stones stuck with me, and I was determined to tie it into our new home.” Upon returning home, Patrick opted to cover her bedroom ceiling in the same calming shade. “It was the ‘wow’ that we wanted it to be, and it was successfully balanced out in the room by crisp white walls, natural elements, and neutral tones,” she commented. 

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  • 05 of 08

    Magnificent Mirrors

    mirrors inspired by travel

    Aimee Mazzenga for Kelly Hurliman

    Hurliman kept being confronted with a certain style of mirror, which she ultimately ended up using in one of her projects. “I first saw the plaster mirrors in this photo years ago while visiting Paul Bert Serpette, the high end flea market in St. Ouen outside of Paris and loved the organic shape,” she explained. But that wasn’t the last time she swooned over the piece. “I saw them again in NYC and then years later in New Orleans, where I sourced the one I ended up using in the Lake Forest Showhouse,” Hurliman explained. “I wasn’t finding the perfect thing for above the fireplace and remembered the store I saw it in and had it shipped.” 

  • 06 of 08

    Perfect Portrait

    art wall filled with photos

    Erin Konrath for Kelly Hurliman

    “The best thing about travel is that it opens your visual world to endless inspiration,” Hurliman added. While staying at The Van Cleef hotel in Brussels, Hurliman received a gigantic dose of inspiration. “Every common area was more inspiring than the next,” she commented. “The breakfast room was filled with wall to wall photos in colorful mattes above a custom banquette.  It inspired the projects I would go on to do with full walls filled with art or photos rather than a typical single grouping.” As part of one project, Hurliman designed a 37-piece gallery wall along a client’s staircase. “I first found an original 1920’s portrait from an antique shop in Michigan and based the rest of the wall around those colors,” she explained. “That’s what I love about travel—that a hotel in Bruges can inspire a room in the Midwest suburbs and make people happy every time they pass by it.” 

  • 07 of 08

    Greek Key Goodness

    Amy Youngblood Interiors

    Amy Youngblood Interiors

    “Over 20 years I vacationed to Greece and yearn to go back,” designer Amy Youngblood said. “Besides being a beautiful country in general, the architecture and interiors are unique and classic.” Youngblood’s most favorite design element from the trip? “I was especially drawn to the Greek key pattern, an indigenous part of Greece’s architecture,” she explained, and considers it to be “graphic and classic at the same time!” 

  • 08 of 08

    Terrific Table

    ark design

    Styled by A.R.K.

    “I always love the hotels on Nantucket thanks to their coastal feeling, modern designs and nightlife vibe,” designer Anne Kokoskie said. “A few years ago, I visited 21 Broad Street and loved the elements in their lobby. The space had a flow of small moments as if to invite unique conversations to each one.” It was one furniture item in particular that majorly captured her attention. “I was drawn to a very special piece, a yellow table beautifully scattered throughout,” she explained. “I sensed it was handmade, the craftsmanship was outstanding. I selfishly needed to find where they were made.” Clearly, she was able to connect the dots! “Fast forward a year, I now own a table from the same brand, Dunes and Duchess,” Kokoskie stated. And she even managed to pair it with a fiber chair, similar to those in the hotel lobby.