Whether you are back from a trip and have a whole lot of things you have no idea where to keep, are a travel enthusiast or even if you can’t go anywhere this summer and want to transform your home into your own private paradise, we’ve got you covered!
June is the time of exciting expeditions, and this month, OHLALA Homes has got something special in store. Speaking to Aga Al Rumaihi of Aga Rumaihi Design and Concepts and Dina Murali of DZ Design, we give you the best guide to incorporating travel elements into your humble abode.
We all know that the most exciting part about coming back from a trip is looking at those beautiful photographs. The tricky thing is, with loads of storage space in our phones and endless clicks, it’s simply a lot to rummage through.
“I remember my parents developing their rolls of 35mm film, and each holiday would have its album,” says Aga. “Now that everything is digital, we take too many photos. I would suggest choosing two or three memories and printing them to frame. Perfect places for them would be a console or bookshelf. You can even hang them in organised groups on a larger wall. I often print out pictures in black and white. That way, they always work with any interior,” she continues.
“A carefully curated photo collection can make an interior look and feel more like home,” says Dina. “Put together a beautiful gallery wall in the main foyer of your home and simply create a conversation around it. As for hallways, passages, and staircases, they can also be used to display your travel memories, and they can be more inclusive and not intrusive.”
Let’s face it, no matter how cluttered our homes are, we always like to bring back some souvenirs to remember our trip. By planning ahead, we can ensure that we get the ones that can complement our home the best. Both Aga and Dina recommend choosing handmade souvenirs and avoiding tacky mass-produced plastic options. It’s both sustainable and adds a unique touch. “They will look like small art pieces, and you can place them on your coffee tables and consoles,” says Aga.
For Dina, vases are curiously alluring items you can bring back: “Personally, I like decorative vases and think they can define and integrate the space beautifully. Combined with photo frames and books, they can be displayed in various places.” She continues: “One of my clients collected books and had manuscripts of original novels and beautiful works of book art. For another client, I framed a wedding lehenga (Indian wedding skirt) as it was an heirloom in a large frame on the main dining wall. The most common items among Middle Eastern collectors are swords and carpets, which are usually displayed in the living room and majlis.” Just be careful not to overcrowd your home or have your objects clash.
When travelling to other parts of the world, we sometimes get inspired to incorporate certain cultural elements into our homes but get confused as to what would work well with Middle Eastern designs.
Aga believes you should look at interiors of regions with warm climates, as they tend to have a more simplistic and airy style. She says that Italian design works well here because the scale of the furniture is perfect for the large interiors of this region. The style is elegant, minimalistic, and modern, which can work with any space. “I use natural materials,” she continues, “from matte wood to raw stones to genuine marble. Some people are afraid of natural materials, but I embrace their honesty. Every stain and scratch is a memory. My wooden kitchen table has a scratch-made by my daughter when she was two years old, confetti stains from a 2020 New Years’ Eve party, and many more memories to come.”
Dina’s approach is more multifaceted. She says: “The Middle East is a melting pot of cultures. There is no one-size-fitsall. Your chandelier can be from Turkey, your homeware from Morocco, or your cushions from Vietnam. All of this, combined, creates a world map of your own home with so many possibilities for conversation.”
While the excitement is on for those looking forward to travelling again, there are still some of us that have to wait a bit longer. So why not bring the holiday to us at home?
“Many people believe that the only way to relax is to travel,” says Aga. “However, if designed properly, your home can be the best place to unwind. Focus on functionality and a serene atmosphere, kind of like how you feel when you go on vacation and first enter a luxurious resort. The outdoor spaces have become critical due to recent events, and a little design and planning of these crucial areas go a long way and work wonders on our mental health,” she adds.
“Getting a style or a theme you can relate to and creating avenues and spaces of interest within the same home has been an evolving trend,” explains Dina. “This came around effectively during the pandemic. Bedrooms and outdoor spaces took up the role of sanctuaries. To create interiors that reflect your travels, you need to be careful not to go too literal with the overall theme but rather use specific design features as subtle reminders and inspiration,” she finalises.