Design ideas from around the world

Get Inspired by These Design Trends from Around the World

A great way to add character and individuality to your home is to look beyond the United States and incorporate international interior design trends. It’s also a wonderful way to pay homage to your roots if you have ancestors or relatives from another part of the world.

Each culture has its own interior design flavor that stems from the area’s history, lifestyle trends and the materials available in the region. There are way too many beautiful trends from around the world to list them all here, but I’ve compiled a few of my favorites. From Mexico to Italy to Indonesia, get ready to take a trip around the world and get inspired!

Russia: Old World Elegance

Moscow, Russia

According to Aleksey Dorozhkin, editor-in-chief of ELLE Decoration Russia, in many contemporary Russian homes, “you will see owners dreaming about the faded grandeur of old estates, dachas and bourgeoise apartments of [the] Belle Époque.”

Opt for modern comforts, like new kitchen appliances and lighting fixtures, but incorporate vintage or vintage-inspired finds, including art, fabrics, and maybe even an old-fashioned bust, like the one you can see at the back of the entryway in this Moscow home:

The trick is a mix of old and new. “We are quite sentimental about the past,” says Dorozhkin.

Italy: Industrial Materials and Traditional Charm

Brugnera, Italy

This is a big trend in Italian interior design. It’s a mix of modern and traditional, hard and soft, metal and wood. Wood, stone and textured fabrics hark back to Italy’s traditional roots, while the glass and metal elements add light, structure and intensity.

It’s hard to go too wrong with this concept — just make sure the different elements are in balance throughout your home. For example, the home above contrasts sharp corners and metal with softer elements like:

  • A soft blue color scheme
  • Plants
  • Textured rug and walls
  • Artwork

Mexico: A Personal Touch

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Over the years, Mexican interior design has been heavily influenced by Mediterranean styles. Many homeowners in Mexico choose to embrace that influence, but also pay homage to the traditional history and culture of their own region.

How? Incorporate traditional Mexican art, patterns and potted plants or flowers. Light fixtures and tiles are a great place to make the distinction.

Here’s what I love about this San Miguel de Allende home:

  • The big, traditional painting is front and center.
  • The rug and tapestry are patterned, but the rest is simple.
  • The room lets in plenty of natural light.
  • The gentle, brown color scheme fits both a Mediterranean and traditional Mexican vibe.

South Africa: Light, Bright and Sustainable

Houghton, Gauteng, South Africa

Most people don’t know a lot about South African interior design trends, which is a shame because it’s beautiful! It’s all about bright spaces and sustainable living. Homes in South Africa often incorporate:

Japan: Simple and Clean, Not Sterile

Meguro-ku, Toyko, Japan

Many contemporary Japanese interior designers have perfectly mastered the art of creating simple, minimalist spaces that are also livable and inviting. That means goodbye to stark whites and hello to warmer elements like light wood and off-whites. In the kitchen above, both the table and cabinets get their color from a melamine material.

Many Tokyo dwellings are too small to have their own gardens, so indoor plants are a welcome touch.

England: Victorian Era Traditional

London, England, U.K.

Trends in the U.K. are often pretty similar to U.S. trends, but this is one distinctly English trend I love. A classic Victorian era space can still incorporate many modern elements, but if you’re going for this look, build your design around dark browns, leather (or faux leather), wood elements and lots of books.

Just keep in mind, that a few traditional elements can go a long way. For a minute, imagine the room above without the big brown couch. The space would have a much different feel! That couch really completes the room.

Denmark: Mid-Century

Copenhagen, Denmark

Mid-century modern is a term used to describe sleek, geometric, Danish-inspired designs from the 1930s to mid 1960s. The design movement has been popular for decades and has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years all over the world, but no one does it better than Denmark.

Just make sure to bring the look into the 21st century with more contemporary elements like modern appliances or art you love.

India: Fine, Detailed Craftsmanship

Photo taken in India by Selmer van Alten

Because interior design has become so modernized in India over the last century, many homeowners and designers are making a concerted effort to use handcrafted materials in their designs, according to Sonia Dutt of ELLE Decor India.

You can incorporate traditional Indian craftsmanship in your wall treatments, accents, rugs, cushions, towels and even bed linens. To create a balance, it helps to stick to one color palette, like the reds in the photo above.

Greece: Cement Mortar

Kythira, Greece

Covering walls in a cement-like mixture isn’t just an old Greek tradition, it’s actually a big trend in Greece today, according to Flora Tzimaka, editor of ELLE Decoration Greece. It can make “any space or room look like a sculpture,” she says. It’s easy to get the look, because cement can be painted as a thin layer over most wall surfaces.

The walls in the home above used cement painted with white washed lime.

Ready to Try a New International Trend?

Incorporating an international design trend is a great way to embrace your family’s roots (or just a different culture that inspires you)! I hope this post gave you some ideas to get started. If you’re interested in design trends from a different area that I didn’t get to here, there are plenty of places to research! ELLE Decor has websites for many different countries around the world. Pinterest and Google Image searches are also great research tools.

Erin Davis is owner of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Ore. For more information and tips visit or contact her at

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Tree Evaluation Part 2

Is It Time to Evaluate Your Trees? Pt. 2

By John Voket

In our last segment (Is It Time to Evaluate Your Trees? Pt.1), we introduced risk assessment measures homeowners might consider taking for the trees on their property. In this segment, we’ll dig into the methods and qualifications needed to carry out an assessment.

An arborist certified by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) ( can be beneficial when determining the safety of the trees on your property. The arborist, guided by ANSI A300 standards, will systematically evaluate your trees for risk in three levels.

Level 1: The arborist will view the tree(s) in question, whether in person or through photographs.

Level 2: The arborist will complete a 360-degree, ground-level observation of the tree or trees in question, examining the roots, trunk and crown for structural defects.

Level 3: The arborist will perform advanced diagnostic procedures, which may include extracting samples for lab analysis.

The arborist’s risk assessment method may vary between the following:

1. International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Hazard Evaluation Method
2. ISA Tree Risk Assessment Best Management Practice (BMP) Method
3. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Community Tree Risk Evaluation Method

The first method is impractical when assessing one or a few trees on a residential property—in a recent study, it was determined the method “runs the risk of being misused by commercial or consulting arborists who inspect individual trees in a residential setting.”

The same study revealed the third method, though adequate, may sacrifice detail, especially with regard to the tree’s condition and site history.

The second method, according to the study, is most appropriate for residential properties. It develops a list of multiple targets for a single tree, generating a “flexible, yet standardized means of coping with multifaceted assessment scenarios.” The disadvantage to this method, however, is the time needed to complete the assessment, the study found.

Consult with your arborist to determine which method will be suitable to assess the trees on your property. He or she may combine facets of two or three to carry out a comprehensive evaluation.

Evaluate Your Trees Part 1

Is It Time to Evaluate Your Trees? Pt. 1

By John Voket

Having the trees on your property inspected regularly can help identify distress or decay before it becomes critical—and costly.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) ( recommends hiring a trained arborist to conduct a formal risk assessment. Several risk assessment methods exist, but three are the most widely accepted in North America:

• International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Hazard Evaluation Method
• ISA Tree Risk Assessment Best Management Practice (BMP) Method
• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Community TreeRisk Evaluation Method

These methods are employed most often by tree care professionals, municipal forestry programs and government agencies. Before hiring an arborist, discuss which method will be used to evaluate your trees.

After the assessment, the arborist may give you a written or oral report with recommendations to mitigate any risks your trees may pose. Generally, there are three ways to reduce risk: removing the tree, treating the tree or treating the site. More than one option may be used depending on the situation, according to the TCIA.

An assessment is a wise step to take even if your trees appear safe, the TCIA adds. It is best to have a professional verify the safety of the trees on your property, especially if they hang over your house or other structures on your property.

In Pt. 2, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each assessment method.


What Would You Do with an Extra $1,000?

5 Smart Things to Do with $1,000

By Barbara Pronin

It’s a great feeling: you received a hard-earned bonus at work, or an unexpected gift from a relative. The impulse to buy something you pine for is strong.

Before you spend that $1,000, think what it can help accomplish if you take one of these five steps, say investment advisors at the Motley Fool:

1. Create an Emergency Fund – Statistics say 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings—not nearly enough to pay for emergencies. If you’re one of them, take that $1,000 to the bank and crank up your emergency fund. You’ll feel a lot better when you find your car needs repair and you don’t have to haul out the plastic!

2. Pay Off Debt – Carrying credit card balances wastes money on interest payments, affording you less spend-able cash. Use that $1,000 to pay down debt, which may also improve your credit score—ideal if you need to borrow money or apply for a home loan down the line.

3. Save for Retirement – Add that $1,000 to your 401(k), IRA or savings account. Those in their 30s who invest it in stocks could generate an average annual return of 8 percent—or, if you put it into savings, could grow it to $15,000 by age 65.

4. Invest in Your Child’s Education – While student loans are an option, the less debt your kids take on, the better positioned they’ll be to start adulthood on financially solid ground. If you’re on track for retirement, have adequate emergency savings, and aren’t carrying credit card debt, put that $1,000 in a traditional brokerage account, a 529 or another type of college savings plan.

5. Invest in Yourself – If a degree or certification stands between you and a promotion and a raise—or if you plan to launch a side business or a new career—put that $1,000 windfall into making your dream a reality.