If you love to travel, as I do, you are sure to come across items you want to take home. Fabulous finds such as a few yards of Moroccan textiles or a collection of beaded napkin rings are no problem, as long as they fit into your luggage.
But what about that hand-carved 17th-century Spanish trunk that would look wonderful in your family room, or the intricate Indonesian door you'd like to use as a headboard in the master bedroom?
Designer/author Sandra Espinet has found ways to bring such pieces home to North America and place them in stunning interiors that blend traditional style with exotic flavors from many cultures.
You can see the results in her book "The Well-Traveled Home," with photography by Hector Velazco (Smith Gibbs, $45, 216 pages). You may find Espinet's passion for rare and exquisite items contagious. Even if you are an armchair traveler, you could be inspired to check out what importers in your area and on the Internet have to offer.
The book showcases repurposed objects such as a unique console, a framed mirror and art from various cultures she has brought together in a hallway.
In a dining room, hand-painted dishes from a street vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam, and iridescent mother-of-pearl napkin rings are placed on a travertine tabletop. On other pages, light fixtures, varying in style and tone from delicate glass sconces to oversize iron chandeliers, are displayed. Elsewhere, chairs in a mix of fabrics and leather both new and old take center stage.
"Every great living room should have a dramatic moment, a stellar piece or something unexpected," Espinet says. This can be anything from an imposing fireplace to a large iron and glass coffee table or an Italianate console.
Even a bathroom can be as uniquely fitted out with items from afar. Espinet shows a rustic antique Afghan cabinet with a bowl from Thailand that has been repurposed as a vessel sink. Wall-mounted faucets and the drop-front of the cabinet keep plumbing pipes hidden.
Bedrooms lend themselves to an eclectic array of dramatic and romantic elements. In one image from the book, simple bedding in bright blue is enlivened by vibrant pillows covered with vintage Guatemalan striped textiles and Mexican florals. The headboards are antique Guatemalan screens. The walls glow with the same tone of dark honey-gold seen in a woven chair and footstool.
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