Because this is not your college dorm room

            • Prints (unframed) taped on the wall
            • Every memorabilia ever collected lined up on shelves
            • ‘Company’ furniture and not much more regarded as decor

Sound familiar?

Perhaps it does because it reminds you of your college days, when you hardly spent time at home and let’s face it, cared very little for home decor.

But, maybe these descriptions ring a bell because as you glance up from your screen you realize this is your current living space reality. Gasp!

As an international teacher, I’ve hopped around not only from country to country, but housing to housing (as they say). In the three years I spent in Medellin, Colombia, I moved three times. In Tunisia, twice. Korea, once. Each place I made Home because it was important to me. In the midst of shaking up my reality with a new job, culture, language, I needed to to have something familiar; something that tethered me to me.

For me, that’s creating a home.

Often, expats overseas have little time or interest in doing this because in a short 2-3 years, they will be likely moving again. I get that. It’s a pain to unpack, sort, decorate, take down, sort, pack. Repeat.

BUT, with a little effort, your space can become a haven, a representation of you, a home away from home.

In all the ideas of things to do to create home, there are 2 simple things NOT to do:

1. Do not clutter. 2. Do not ignore space.

I know what you’re asking: aren’t these contradictory?

Well, kind of. One of the keys to making your home overseas is striking a balance between the two. Let’s look at these closer.

Do not clutter.

This simply means that even though you’ve traveled the extent of Asia, South America, and Africa, does not mean that all of your “souvenirs” should hang on your wall, or sit on your shelves. Of course, you want to showcase that intricate Persian rug you bought in your travels, but does it have to sit in the same room with batik throws and ikat cushions on the sofa? Cramming all of your favorite items can be aesthetically painful. Instead:

*look for color compatibility; this takes practice
*watch for pattern busyness; mix solids with patterns for variety
*allow for focal points; too many pieces do not let the eyes admire
*rotate your treasured pieces

Do not ignore space.

Space is a designer’s canvas. It is both functional and aesthetic. Taken for granted, it can contribute to chaos or make a place feel empty, lackluster. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

*minimalism is an artistic movement, not an excuse; select decor that showcases you
*careful spatial layout can enhance the functionality of a room; create a comfy space for reading, have an open floor plan so you can keep an eye on your kids, designate areas with rugs or furniture
*be creative: need more storage in your bathroom? find that corner shelf or cool basket that you can tuck in and use

Your home away from home does not have to be an attic where decor items compete for attention. Nor does it have to be a dorm room, hardly lived in. Take a few steps to strike that balance and home can be…well, home.

What are some things that help you create a sense of home in your space?

image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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