Global Influences

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Photo courtesy of Roche Bobois

Globalization is not a new concept. Styles from distant places have been part of our country since it first began, so unlike some quick-turnover design trends, the world-traveler way of decorating is not going anywhere. In fact, global has now joined contemporary and traditional as a definitive style, especially with younger generations searching for eclectic, exotic flavor.

America is filled with different cultures of people who have established communities that remind them of their homes, including shops full of furniture and accessories in the style of their native countries. We have become aware of the artistic heritage and expressions of different people within our own country, says Mary Ellen Badger of Design Trilogy Inc. With all the styles floating around, its no wonder were working harder than ever to incorporate them into our homes.

Global travel also influences the trends that are creeping into our decor. When you are abroad, everything seems exotic and unique because you are surrounded by items where you stay, where you dine and where you sightsee that are all native to that location, says Jenny Thomas of Habersham Home. The urge to snap up all those great finds that you are currently fascinated with is hard to ignore. Accessorizing your home with souvenirs from your travels will keep fond memories close at hand while adding a personal touch to your home.

Of course, bringing global treasures into the home is not just for those who are able to travel extensively. The global theme was once only reserved for the well-traveled globe-trotter, says Walt Bilinski of No Mas! Productions. Today, the world is smaller and everybody wants a piece of it in their home. And with all the choices out there, especially in the Atlanta area, it isnt hard to turn your home into a global masterpiece.

Photo courtesy of Vintage Imports

It may seem like a small world sometimes, but when you are trying to decorate globally, the myriad of distinctive designs can seem overwhelming. Try out these design tips to achieve the hottest looks in the world of global decorating.


Writers and artists are inspired by the rich, exotic colors of this African country, and you can be, too. Think of the colors of the desert, the water and the skyvibrant reds and golds combined with deep, rich blues for wall color, fabric and accessories.

Use terra-cotta tiles on the floors, on the walls, inlaid in tablespretty much anywhere will work.

Use richly colored, draped fabrics on furniture, windows and beds.

Dark wood furniture will set off the deep colors beautifully.

Textured walls and exotic houseplants add to the African feel.

Accessorize with throw pillows in textured fabrics, intricately decorated glazed pottery, hand-carved wood statues, and wrought-iron light fixtures.

Lighting is important. Britt Kuenzlen of Casablanca Homes, a Moroccan home store in Atlanta, says that lanterns are a big seller because they are a major component of Moroccan design. Use them sparingly, keeping the lighting soft in contrast to the heavy colors.

Photo courtesy of salInteriors

Decking out your home with globally inspired housewares can be a daunting task. Everything from furniture and accessories to paint colors and lighting can fit into a globally themed home. It just depends on how far you want to delve into your chosen region of the world.

Whichever theme you choose, plan carefully before you let it take over your home. Whatever someones style is, it is usually seen throughout his or her home, but I think exotic themes tend to be more in accents or in certain but not all rooms of the house, Thomas says. Using similarly themed accessories throughout your home will give it a nice flow from room to room. And as with any theme, less is often more. Building your global collection one item at a time will help you determine how much is enough, and it may help keep you from spending too much money in one place. Even the smallest hand-produced artifact from another country can make a statement in anyones home, Bilinski says.

Of course, there are some styles that are more conducive to whole-house decorating. The simplicity of Asian decor or the classic look of French design can be used throughout a home without overwhelming the house. There are design influences that are beautiful when done throughout an entire home, Thomas says. And of course, certain home styles lend themselves to being decorated in a more exotic feel, such as a Spanish-style home.

Age and money also play roles in the choice of accessories. The young are often more willing to try exotic things, Badger says. Many imports are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at a reasonable cost to create a decorated look without breaking the budget.

Photo courtesy of Rustique.
Photography by Gregg Willett



The French Country style is perfect for fans of traditional decor.

The romance of France is captured in classic blue and white, which can be used in linens, tableware, accessories and wall color. Buttery yellow is a delicate accent color, great for kitchen cabinets.

Delicate houseplants, like flowing ivy spilling over a planter, add to the softness of this style.

Small, flowery prints work on everything from wallpaper to dishes.

Hand-painted European ceramics are very popular in this style. Accessorize with decorative plates, vases and canisters. Roosters are a popular theme.

Light, flowing, lacy fabrics are great for curtains and bedspreads.

White or light-colored tiles will work on floors or as backsplashes.

Whether you want to do a complete overhaul of your current decor or just add some new accessories, the key to making your home a global paradise is knowing how to incorporate the region youve picked into your own American home. If you arent sure if you are ready to go full force into a global theme, then start by adding accents in a powder room, a foyer, a guest room, or some place that isnt your main living area, Thomas says.

To take things a step further, look closely at your new accessoriesis there a color you can pull from them that would look great on your walls? Would it be possible to add special lighting to spotlight your favorite pieces? Whether you brought your new vase all the way from Africa or just up the street at Pier 1, how you display it will determine how much attention it gets.

Remember to have fun with your decorating! Global styles really allow you to get creative and make your home more personal. Try mixing cultures, as they often share historical influences, says Melissa Galt of Linea Interior Design. I often mix the clean lines of Asian with the colorful accessories of a less sophisticated culture.

If your new global tastes are inspired by travel, look at pictures from your trip for ideas. Notice peoples clothing designs, the architecture of the buildings, and even the colors of the earth and sky. You can pull bits and pieces of your favorite things into your own design to make it even more personal.

Photo courtesy of Rustique.
Photography by Gregg Willett



Simplicity has always been key in Asian-style decorating. Be careful not to over-accessorize.

Use natural colors, such as off-white, brown, rust and green. Deep red or plum make nice accent colors.

Cover the windows with simple bamboo shades.

Instead of regular houseplants, bring life to the room with bamboo or a single orchid.

Silk fabrics work well for everything in Asian design, including bedspreads, table linens and accessories.

Use large floor pillows for seating and keep heavy furniture at a minimum.

According to Eduardo Alaluf at Roche Bobois in Atlanta, Asian is a great style for those who are into contemporary designs. The clean lines of Asian decor mix perfectly with the simplicity of contempo
ary furniture and accessories.

Accessorize with silk pillows, intricate Japanese-style paintings, and Vietnamese pottery, which is a big seller at Atlantis World Imports in Atlanta.

Keep lighting to a minimum with small, simple lamps and candles.

Photo courtesy of Rustique.
Photography by Gregg Willett


Many people are drawn to Italian styles for their classic simplicity and romance. Tuscan-style decor is especially popular in kitchens and outdoor living areas.

Use natural colors, like earthy browns and greens and rich terra-cotta.

Walls with a crumbling-stone look are classically Tuscan. The look can be achieved with Venetian plaster or faux finishing.

Hand-painted murals or large pastoral paintings will bring Italy right into your home.

Handwoven brocades and lace are intrinsic to this style. Use them on windows and linens, or in tapestries for wall decoration.

Archways between rooms and marbled floors are very common.

Accessorize with hand-thrown pottery, bottles of wine, painted terra-cotta tiles (in the style of a Tuscan rooftop) and wrought-iron light fixtures and furniture.

Water is critical in Tuscan decorating, so include an indoor or outdoor fountain as a focal point.

Photo courtesy of Heavy Metal


Mexican style uses bright, bold colors like red, yellow and blue mixed with earth tones of brown and orange.

Mexican artisans purposely avoid the look of machined perfection, so that each accessory or piece of furniture has an individual, handmade
look. Look for blacksmiths marks in iron and imperfections in pottery.

The wrought-iron elements popular in European styles show up here, but instead of being delicate, they are solid and heavy.

This style is one that can be used throughout an entire house. In addition to furniture and accessories, No Mas! Productions also carries authentic Mexican doors and sinks.

Heavy wrought-iron chandeliers are great light fixtures to use with this style.

If you want to accessorize your own contemporary decor, the colors of Mexican blown-glass lighting and hand-glazed pottery make great additions.

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