How to creatively display your most treasured travel finds

It always seems like a great idea to purchase sentimental knickknacks on your trip . . . until you’re home and realize the mementos are just cluttering up the joint. It can take some work and a trained eye to make those souvenirs shine like curated art in your home. But lucky for you, globe-trotting interior designer Katie Wolfe Agron of Wolfe Design House has just the ticket.

“When we travel, I look for items that speak to me and will add something of value to my life and my home,” shares Agron, whose design approach is sophisticated yet effortless, with an appreciation for old and a nod to new. “Traveling is one of our passions and it makes sense to want to bring those experiences to life in our home, but it does require some finesse to make them look poised and purposeful instead of like a tourist shop.”

And with countless trips to Europe, Israel, Hawaii and everywhere in between, Agron has fine-tuned her eye for what will work and what won’t. “When we travel I search for things I can carry home that I love that speak to me. Not necessarily all art or all jewelry; I’m not looking for a complete collection of something but rather subtle hints that evoke memories and emotions.” 

Instead of staged vignettes, Agron advises scattering these treasures throughout your home and working them into your existing décor. “For example, we have this vintage ashtray we collected from a hotel in Positano. We don’t smoke but it adds a touch of the unexpected on a side table in our den.”

Repurposing items is another great way to weave in your finds. “I fell in love with these prayer beads from Israel and wanted to place them where we could all enjoy them. So now, they’re draped over a picture frame in our hallway, and it brings new life into the space.”

On the flip side of scattering your finds, Agron says that if you must have a collection, try making it whimsical, like collecting local postcards to create decoupage coasters. Or collect sand from every beach you visit in bottles or glass jars and put it in containers. “Tuck them in a corner in your home—not a designated travel area but just placed onto a bookshelf or console table. All these little glass bottles are reminders of where we’ve been and help us to appreciate our global environment. In fact, our girls have taken them to school, to study so having them all in a collection, in this case, can be an interactive experience. Everyone always wants to hold each bottle and compare the sands.”

Keeping our travels close to our hearts is a powerful reminder of how lucky we are to get to experience the world outside our four walls. “When I walk around my home, I’m flooded with emotions and memories which will last for years. It’s part of the legacy we want to leave our girls—that life is to be experienced and shared.”