When it comes to decorating abroad, hiring a professional interior designer can be invaluable.
You don't have to be an expert in culture to incorporate native designs. Photo courtesy of Perla Lichi, Perla Lichi Design
International design firms can provide you with access to fabulous furniture and decorative resources, both locally and globally. Photo courtesy of Perla Lichi, Perla Lichi Design
A combination of cross-cultural styles can be stunningly successful. Photo courtesy of Perla Lichi, Perla Lichi Design
Look to your new environment to guide your decorating, says Perla Lichi, founder and owner of the global Perla Lichi Design Company. For example, Italian marble, Persian rugs and Far Eastern woods offer natural inspiration for design.
How to decorate your home abroad.
- by Jacqueline Rupp
Moving away from the United States, even for just a few months, can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. But decorating your new home—whether it’s a rented apartment, a second home, a vacation home or a full-time relocation—can present unique challenges. Here are some inside tips to keep you from decorating culture shock.
Consider an International Designer
Thankfully, you don't have to blaze a design trail. Working with an internationally experienced designer can make decorating painless and the results outstanding. And getting started is easier than you might think. "The design process is the same no matter where the home is located," explains Perla Lichi, founder and owner of the global Perla Lichi Design Company.
Lichi has designed homes around the world. She says a designer who has experience working internationally will be knowledgeable of interior design principles, plus have experience working with different cultures, languages and unique regulations.
International design firms also provide you with access to fabulous furniture and decorative resources, both locally and globally. "In our new Dubai gallery," adds Lichi, "we have the added benefit of our own factory for woodwork, curtains and other custom services. Since most of our work is custom, we can supply our clients with any type of furniture the project requires."
Trust Your Instincts
You don't have to be an expert in culture to incorporate native designs. "This will happen naturally," reassures Lichi. She says you can't go wrong utilizing local sources and being an acute observer of your surroundings. "Local architecture will have characteristics indigenous to the region that tend to give the rooms a local flavor." Lichi says to pay attention to the color palette used around you and natural resources, like Italian marble, Persian rugs and Far Eastern woods.
Show off Your Roots
Even though you want to assimilate to your new region, feel free to also embrace your American tastes. "Your home should always reflect your own personal style," advises Lichi. She says international design works best when you combine the old with the new, the familiar with the exotic.
Plus, a combination of cross-cultural styles can be stunningly successful. Throughout history, travelers have brought their style and culture to new lands, with dynamic results. British colonial estates of the Caribbean, Louisiana's French plantations and South Pacific colonies are just a few examples of how combining opposing cultures can make for striking designs. Refined furniture styles combined with bold tropical hues of greens, indigo, violet and orange is one classic exotic look.
More tips for making the most of your decorating time and money, specific to your type of home:
- Buy authentic pieces in regional markets and boutiques.
- Keep architectural elements consistent with local style to retain the home's value on the international market.
- Keep designs simple and easy to keep clean while you're away.
- Add touches of local flavor, but focus on comforts you'll want during vacation.
- Ship valuable or sentimental pieces, but purchase large pieces locally.
Lichi says to be sure of a new location's dimensions. "Make absolutely certain the furniture you're shipping will work in the new space."