Decor Expert: Suitcase Splurges

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Decor Expert: Suitcase Splurges

Souvenir shopping & packing tips during your summer travels

By: Kimberley Seldon

For many of us, marvelling at and sampling local crafts, furnishings, and foods is a major part of the whole travel experience. If you’re like me, you’ll agree that nothing compares with the satisfaction of buying at the source. Here are some of my favourite suitcase splurges—those little gems that pack easily and forever remind you of a favourite destination.

  1. ORIGINAL ARTWORK should be at the top of every traveller’s shopping list. Unframed works of art such as oil paintings and photographs are nearly indestructible, fit easily into suitcases, and carry fond memories for years to come. You may want to sign and date the back of the artwork; noting the trip’s purpose (a honeymoon, retirement, big birthday) and details about the purchase. This way you’ll maintain an accurate record of your experience that future generations will enjoy.
  2. POTTERY AND PORCELAIN are worthy (though fragile) take-home choices. French Barbotine, Spanish Majolica, and Japanese Aritaware (or Imari) can be called into practical service once home, or simply enjoyed on display. Wrap the more delicate pieces as carry-on items for travelling home.
  3. ANTIQUE BOXES made of wood with inlaid marquetry or fashioned from exotic materials, such as tortoiseshell or shagreen (shark’s skin), are widely available and easy to transport. Larger antique boxes were a precursor to the laptop; allowing travellers to keep stationery, ink, and quills close at hand when far from home. Today’s collectors look for boxes that once held toiletries, stationery or tea.
  4. SERVING TRAYS lay flat amid folded clothing and are always welcome gifts back home. Regional examples might be made of tole (painted metal), acrylic, wood, pewter, or silver, depending on locale. Consider a trip to the local grocery store where you may find good-looking trays at a fraction of the price of gift shops.
  5. VINTAGE TEXTILES and local fabrics are easily found at antique shops, markets and local shops. Once home, remnants may be framed or used to create decorative pillows.
  6. DISHTOWELS AND BEDDING fashioned of linen, cotton, or hemp are also readily available and easy to transport. Vintage examples often feature embroidered details or monograms and work beautifully as guest towels. When purchasing bedding, consider that European beds are typically smaller than North American equivalents. Consider adding a hem or cuff to the perimeter of vintage bedding, in order to increase its overall size.
  7. LOCAL DELICACIES such as jam, pâté, cookies, and tapenade can be savoured for weeks following a trip. I search for beautiful sugars wrapped in unusual packaging, infused with lavender, or decorated with fanciful details to give away as hostess gifts once I’m home.
  8. CHANDELIERS, SCONCES, AND LANTERNS from Europe, Africa and Asia can easily be re-wired to meet North American safety standards or converted to candle use. A large 10-light chandelier may set you back about $300 to re-wire; a pair of sconces, somewhere around $40 to $50.

Happy travels.

Photography By: Simon Burn


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