No matter where your summer travels take you, it’s always tough to come back. But what if you could take a little a little piece of that vacation home with you?
To find out how to expertly incorporate travel inspiration into your interior design, we caught up with Heather Fujikawa, co-owner and principal designer for House Sprucing — an interior design and remodeling design business with a 10,000-square-foot retail space and design center that opened last year in Carrollton. (You can also catch Fujikawa starring alongside her twin sister in Design Twins on Amazon Prime.)
Growing up with a mom who was an interior designer herself, Fujikawa learned to appreciate her surroundings, at home and away. “My family had some fun opportunities to travel stateside and abroad. My mom always pointed out beauty and shared her thoughts with us about texture, design layers, the importance of detail and so much more. I’m so grateful because that gave me an awareness and a beautiful perspective.”
These days at House Sprucing, Fujikawa ascribes to a design style she calls “new traditional.” “I draw a lot of my color story creation from the south of France, with its muted colors and neutral-on-neutral tones,” Fujikawa says. That’s evident throughout her store, with its different vignettes featuring a touch of Provence. Think antique iron doors, modern art with natural and rust tones, and cream and textured linens on neutral sofa silhouettes.
Fujikawa and her husband Tyson (House Sprucing’s co-owner and CEO) have traveled to a combined 50-plus countries — their experiences include living in Italy for a couple of years — so it’s no surprise their life’s work is so globally inspired. Here’s what we can learn from them.
Where to shop and what to buy while you’re traveling
“My husband and I dive into antique stores and flea markets to find treasures. And we love to see what the locals are creating,” Heather says. “That only adds to the authentic experience we want to have in every city we travel, and it helps support small businesses too.”
Small decor boutiques are also solid sources. In terms of interior design souvenirs, Fujikawa will pick up art, rugs, light fixtures, coffee table books and so on. “One of our favorite things to bring home from Italy were antique chandeliers. We have them hanging throughout our home, and the patina on those 100-year-old creations is so stunning and unique,” she says.
Needless to say, steer clear of the typical T-shirts, trinkets and tchotchkes that often find their way into our luggage before a return flight home.
Instead, be intentional about your selections. Before buying something special, Fujikawa advises being mindful about where you would place that item in your home. “A lot of purchases made while traveling are emotional, which is how you might end up bringing home a bright purple-and-pink sunset art piece from Hawaii,” she says with a smile.
Instead, think about the colors in your home. “Lean into that, find things that blend in, that way you’ll be much more likely to successfully incorporate your finds at home,” Fujikawa notes.
There’s a simple (and free) way to do that that works with every decor style. “Don’t forget to collect from nature,” Fujikawa recommends. “We love to find heart-shaped rocks, seashells and other organic elements to remind us of a special memory.”
How to style your home with travel treasures
Once you arrive home, it’s time to display your decor. Mix old and new, especially when it comes to artwork. One of Fujikawa’s favorite personal pieces is from Innsbruck, Austria, circa 1930. “It’s a floral watercolor and has a perfectly imperfect gilded frame. I love bringing a vintage piece into a new home to give it a lived-in feeling,” she says.
Don’t forget about the art you create yourself. The Fujikawas may edit their travel photos in black and white or leave them in color. They drop the pictures in frames and utilize them throughout their home — as part of gallery walls, for example. “It brings back happy memories,” Fujikawa says. “When you mix your travel art with other art, it subtly creates great design layers and a fun Easter-egg-find type of moment for visitors.”
And consider every space for your travel treasures. While the primary bathroom may not be the first place you think of, even it offers a wealth of opportunities.
“I remember picking up the perfect room spray from a small boutique in Oslo, Norway. It smelled divine, and I couldn’t wait to bring it home for my bath. I still use it today,” Fujikawa says. That same room is home to a light fixture her husband thrifted in Italy, Turkish towels and a decorative vase found in California. “All these little details mean something to me and bring joy to our home, space and memories,” Fujikawa explains.
Use travel as inspiration when shopping at home
In addition to bringing home accessories and artwork, your search for travel-inspired pieces can continue when you return. You might find something overt — in a bath at her home, Fujikawa hangs a hand towel on a hook that reads “s’il vous plait,” a direct reminder of time spent In France. The piece could also be more subtle; that hook holds another Turkish towel, reminding Fujikawa of Turkey each time she dries her hands.
That room is full of details influenced by time spent in other places. “The subway tile was inspired by the subways in New York City,” she explains. “I chose the wallpaper because it felt like the perfect English touch to add to our home and reminded me of when I lived in London for a semester.”
Your at-home shopping will be best served by staying aware of your surroundings while on a trip. Take photos of details you especially love. One of Fujikawa’s favorite travel tips is simple: Look up. That’s where you’ll find inspiration for everything from lighting to ceiling details. She also makes note of things like color palettes, textures and artwork. Then look for home accessories that reflect those qualities.
Want to shop globally inspired pieces here in North Texas? Here are some places to check out:
- House Sprucing Design & Furniture Store, Fujikawa’s brick-and-mortar location in Carrollton.
- Blue Print, Dallas.
- Ceylon et Cie, Dallas.
- Sally Lynn Home, Southlake.
- Red Shed Antiques, Grapevine. The team behind this antique store at the Grapevine Antique Market also offers guided trips to European flea markets.