Chefchaouen Morocco

Decorating with Travel Photography via @Shutterfly Home Decor

Much as I would’ve loved to build a beautiful collection of hand-selected imports on my journey, it was an impossible and impractical fantasy. Nomadic living is just not conducive to souvenir collecting.

In the two years I lived out of my luggage, I rarely picked up any of the goodies I discovered in markets, back alleys or shop windows; I just couldn’t justify carrying the extra weight from country to country, nor did I have any excess room in my bag for carved giraffes from Nairobi or colorful glass lanterns from Marrakech.

Now that I’ve traded my suitcase for an apartment, I’m always searching for reproductions of patterns, colors & knick-knacks I remember from the road. I may not be a full-time nomad, but I still want the thrill of my adventures to be forever a part of my daily life. 


Since I wasn’t quite ready to max out my credit cards on exotic imports from World Market, I had to find a creative and less expensive way to ensure my space reflects the traveler I will always be — even when I’m in between trips.

Fortunately there’s one souvenir I happen to have thousands and thousands and thousands of… photographs!

I turned to the Internet for suggestions on how to think outside the picture frame — and I found a surprise: Shutterfly, the company I have long used to print my photos, has an extensive Home Decor selection. I can upload my best travel shots and turn them into all sorts of functional but beautiful home accents.

I experimented with different photos from Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Laos, England, Fiji, New Zealand – the whole wide world, basically – for hours and hours. What I thought would be a quick project wasn’t at all – I had so many photos and there were so many different products to choose from… I really fell down the Shutterfly rabbit hole for a while.

Surprisingly, I found that not all great photos translate to great home decor, so it took some poking around to get the perfect look.  

Eventually I decided to stick with the Moroccan theme I’ve been trying to thread through the apartment, choosing to create coasters and plates featuring patterns and subjects from my trip to Morocco with Intrepid Travel last year.

I took four of my favorite photos from Morocco and bam: gorgeous, colorful coasters for my living room!

Much of the projects on offer themed templates to choose from, incorporating holidays, monograms or even just pretty borders. For all my projects, I skipped the templates and just used the naked photos. I thought they were colorful enough to stand on their own.

Project 2: I picked four more photos from Morocco and made them into plates for the kitchen. They're safe to eat off, but they're so pretty I might display them instead!

Once I’d designed the coasters and plates, I moved on to a new country – Turkey – and a new product – throw pillows ($39.99 each). A product which my Fella has declared I need more of “like I need a hole in the head.” So, I have a few more than I need…

But, I reasoned, I don’t have ANY with my own photographs – so here’s to justifying that 13th throw for the couch!

Project 3: I turned this photo of the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey, into a pillow. Isn't it beautiful? And it's really soft - I was expecting a much less cozy fabric.

As with the plates, I didn’t use any of the ready-made templates on, though there are quite a few cute themes to choose from. Instead I opted to splash the whole photo on the front of the pillow and let the scene speak for itself. What do you think?

There’s just something surreal about catching a glimpse of my pillow on the couch and remember that I actually took that photo myself. I was standing in the perfect spot in Cappadocia when the sun was rising and dozens of hot air balloons were taking flight.

I’m transported to that perfect moment almost anytime I sit on the couch, and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing and flip through a photo album for it to happen.


Thanks to Shutterfly for hooking me up with these awesome DIY coasters, plates and pillow. My apartment feels more like home than it ever has before. And there are so many more options to choose from for my next project – cups, placemats, table runners, blankets, ornaments, wall decals… and they make great personalized holiday gifts, too.

Can you guess what I’m getting my family members for Christmas? YES! Custom Shutterfly blankets featuring my acting head shots… the perfect gift. (Gift certificates are available for those who might not be so thrilled with your face on a mug or blanket.)


Your turn! What creative ways have you incorporated your travels into your home? Are you a souvenir hound?

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  • November 07, 2013

    We love to collect old photographs of bearded men! We featured some of our favorite souvenir ideas in a recent blog post. Although we try not to have too much “stuff” around the house. I LOVE the plate and coaster ideas.
    Heather recently posted..8 Creative Ideas for SouvenirsMy Profile

  • November 07, 2013

    love the coasters. i think I may have to do this myself. There is a serious lack of coasters in my house. With a husband who doesn’t pay attention to where he puts things and an unfinished wood coffee table, this is a problem haha.
    Annie of TravelShus recently posted..Summer in the Laurentian MountainsMy Profile

  • November 07, 2013

    I love these! I never knew you could get photos on household items like this. Your Cappadocia pillow is beautiful!
    Laura recently posted..Memories of LisbonMy Profile

  • November 08, 2013

    Love these! I’m in the 8th month of my RTW trip and just bought my first souvenir in Nepal… because the holidays are coming up and I had to ship my trekking gear back, so when else would I have this opportunity? Photos are a hallmark of my travel so, like you, I will rely on them as souvenirs upon my return. Love these creative Shutterfly projects!
    Erica recently posted..Bucket List: Broome & Darwin, AustraliaMy Profile

  • November 08, 2013

    My house is decorated with a lot of shutterfly as well, I love it!!! And it makes for the best presents! Love what you designed.
    Andi recently posted..England & Scotland With Trafalgar: Day 2 (Part 1)My Profile

  • November 13, 2013

    I love to buy something popular on the places that I’ve gone to like in Russia they have this cute doll Matryoshka. I bought 3 pieces of it. I gave the 2 dolls to my sister and my best friend and the last one I put it on my house. Some of the things that I’ve collected really help on entertaining my visitors when they visit me. It acted like a conversational piece.

  • November 13, 2013

    Such a fun idea! I’ve turned photos into coasters as well and most of our “art” is nicely framed photos from traveling. Such a great way to relive the memories.
    Laurel recently posted..Sandboarding in Namibia: I SuckedMy Profile

  • November 20, 2013

    The love the DIY coaster! I put it on my room and oh boy I like the outcome of my room because I can gush on my friends that I took those pictures.

  • December 10, 2013

    Those old pictures looks really awesome, Your Cappadocia pillow is really nice. Love to have one of those..

  • December 10, 2013

    this is so fun! I’d never thought to print photos on PLATES but I love it. Your place looks awesome!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Why Not Give a Cruise for Christmas?My Profile

  • January 26, 2014

    Love the coasters and plates! I have been thinking of things to do with all my photos. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Alexandra recently posted..5 Unusual Things To Do In New York CityMy Profile

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