Traveling isn’t just an activity — it’s a lifestyle. The modern world traveler has many ways to integrate their passion for motion into their lives. One time-honored way to show off your global journeys is to decorate your house in an international style. It is hard to know, however, which decorations are high-class and which are best abandoned when you return home. Below is a brief guide to decorating in the international style.


The first place to go to when decorating your home to look global is the world of artwork. Whether in the form of paintings or traditional masks or sculptures, having the right piece of art in place can bring a room to life and let everyone know how broad your tastes are. In fact, one way to look at the art in your house is as a record of your travels. Try to buy something in every country you visit that both appeals to your sensibility and reflects the art traditions of the nation you are in; that way, when you’re asked about the pieces, you can segue into stories of your travel.


Image via Flickr by R. Mitra

The hookah, a kind of pipe with its origins in the Middle East, is an exotic method for smoking tobacco, primarily of the flavored variety. Also known as water pipes, hookahs can make an exciting conversation piece, with their elegant glassware design and ornate metals. The hookah has a long and storied history, and adds an international flavor to any decoration scheme, evoking the feel of a Middle Eastern home in your own house. Just be sure that none of your guests have smoke allergies before you use it.

Floor and Furniture Coverings

Persian rugs are the first thing to spring to mind about floor coverings, but many nations are known for their rugs, including many of the Asian nations. If you include blankets and the like, your options also expand exponentially. As rugs and blankets are popular items around the house, local stores will likely have a great stock, as will specialty online retailers. Shop around and find a national style that you like which works with the existing color schemes and materials in your home.


Some people’s notion of international furniture begins and ends at IKEA, but to truly capture the look of a world traveler, you’ll need to dig a little deeper. Similar to how rugs can work with your decorating scheme, trying various kinds of furniture can turn otherwise neutral space into a part of the aesthetic of your house. Try bamboo chairs and tables, or some old-world European sofas. Material types like Malaysian hardwoods can give you something to talk about with guests. To double up, cover your international couch with a nice blanket from the previous item in the list.

Travel is pleasant, but returning home at the end is part of the charm. Of course, the mark of real internationalists is that no sooner are you home than you want to head out again. By decorating your home in international styles, your globe-trotting never needs to end.