We just returned from a trip to Portugal, and I am coming back with a renewed love for design and beautiful details.

We love to explore new places, and the places we’ve been have become layers of my own style and my creative work. Even though my personal style may not match every place we visit, I find that I’ve learned to find inspiration from all kinds of beauty. 

Chances are you care about pretty spaces if you’re reading this, and maybe you’re even working on updating your own home or trying to define your own style. So here are a few ways to let the places you’ve been (whether near or far) inform your interiors so that you can create spaces that truly reflect your own story and the things you love. 

We often ask our clients at the beginning of a project if there are any places they’ve been that inspire them. That could be your grandmother’s kitchen or a beach in Thailand or anything in between. I’d often rather begin the creative process with a photo of a landscape as inspiration than a Pinterest room. Seeing and experiencing new places can give you a “why” behind the things you love. 

But what does it look like to travel with anticipation for inspiration? This is what it looks like for me. 

  1. Pay attention to color palettes. 

Whether it’s a rugged landscape or a chic hotel, whenever you find yourself in a new space that makes you particularly happy, take stock of the color combinations and tones. You may not be able to recreate a rocky coastline in your living room, but if those natural colors and textures give you a sense of peace, take note.

2. Search for small, locally owned antique shops and boutiques wherever you go. 

Jeremy and I both find so much inspiration from old, beautiful things. When we are traveling, we generally proceed with caution when it comes to tourist souvenir shops; we prefer to hunt for locally made goods and antiques that tell the local story. Whether we are just visiting family in another state or somewhere in Europe, you can find us in an antique shop, an old bookstore, or an art shop. We talk to the owners and learn about the significance of things, and we try to take home a treasure or two when we can. 

3. Pay attention to spacing and layouts in places that feel right—or places that miss the mark. 

On our Portugal trip, we stayed in a few hotels and we had an incredible time at all three. However, when we arrived at the third hotel, we couldn’t help but notice that the architecture was on POINT, but the interior design missed the mark in some ways. The lighting layout was “cool” but left lots of dark corners, the furniture placement didn’t function well, the dining chairs were proportioned incorrectly, etc. 

I say that not to be critical—because we still had an incredible time and would stay there again. Honestly, I found it a fascinating case study in the importance of details, and I made mental notes to file away. 

4. Pay attention to places that make you feel at home and incorporate elements into your own design. 

Now while I wish I could transport a hotel concierge and hot prepared breakfast to my every day life, that might not be practical. However, some experiences can be recreated. 

Travel has taught us that nothing makes us feel quite as “at home” as the British countryside. Elements of our time spent in the UK have found their way into lots of corners of our own home. 

5. Look closely at materials and textures.

It probably goes without saying, but I don’t really want to live in a medieval monastery. I’m sure it was great for the monks, and it’s beautiful to visit, but I don’t think I qualify for the monastic life. 

But it was time spent in the cloisters of the cathedral at Evora in Portugal that confirmed for me that I want slate floors in our laundry room. Sometimes it’s one individual texture, material, or design element that will stand out in a space as something you want to recreate. Take pictures of those details and file them away in your memory. 

What are some ways that you bring the places you love into your own home? And how do you find inspiration when you travel?