The Spirit of Travel and Design

A Review of Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit by Caitlin Flemming & Julie Goebel

Written by Jenna Collignon, Editor, Matrix Group Publishing

Have you ever wondered what to do with the treasures you’ve brought back from your travels? Or, have you wanted to travel around the world and bring back a world of textures and textiles into your home? 

Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit by Caitlin Flemming and Julie Goebel is a cornucopia of style and texture. Throughout, Flemming and Goebel guide readers on the best ways to implement elements of travel into your home. From layering textures to adding found objects in the right way around your space to add just the right amount of personality, this book acts as a guide to designing with a global spirit.

First Impressions

This book has a certain something to it. A voice, a personality – whatever it is, it draws you in and hugs you close with comfort as you go through its pages. Though the stories talk about different places, different personalities, and the photos show a vast array of different homes, the whole book has a calm and simple aesthetic to it. The photography is crisp and clean and is featured on beautiful bright white pages alongside simple fonts. It accompanies the text perfectly – the two are balanced as they detail each story. 

The book is divided into an introduction, six chapters, and ends with a directory of the places that Flemming and Goebel recommend going to on your travels to search for the pieces that you add to your home. Along with each of the six chapters comes a sort of ‘how-to’ guide that is connected to the chapters, advising readers on purchasing and decorating, sourcing and displaying pieces from around the world.


One main thread that sews its way through this book is the concept of layering the design elements that you’ve travelled around the world to collect into your home. This concept also applies to design elements that you can find locally as well – it is all about creating a space that has depth and personality. 

Each person highlighted throughout the book has incorporated their own experiences from around the globe into their home, ensuring that every space is unique. Most of the spaces depicted in this book have a neutral colour palette as their baseline to allow each object and textile to breathe and shine on their own.

The chapters themselves cover incorporating various textiles and textures into your space; seeking out individual art pieces and other ephemera to display; keeping your interior spaces minimal and clean, even when collecting all these various design elements; introducing the natural world into your home; navigating the world of being a collector; and mixing together different styles, eras, and cultures into your own unique space. 

The Stories

Though the stories are short and sweet, they allow for the personality of the spaces and people who curate them to shine through. Each story details what makes these people love to travel, how they came to love travel, and where they get their inspiration for design as they travel. Though the folks featured in this book are all designers of some kind, and their jobs usually take them around the world, the concepts that they share through their love of travel is a universal feeling. The colours, life, and beauty of the world is shared and collected by all of us when we travel. This book simply acts as a guide for us to implement the concepts shared into our own homes. 

The authors, Caitlin Flemming and Julie Goebel, are featured within this book alongside the designers from around the world. As mother and daughter, the two have shared their love of travel for years.

Caitlin Flemming

Because Flemming was brought up in two different cultures, she was “often more comfortable on the open road than at home” (210). She has a deep love of design that mirrors her intense love of the world around – and like her mom, she mixes the objects from her travels in with modern pieces that make up her home. 

As a base, she gravitates towards cool and neutral tones, keeping her space bright and calm. Into this, she layers the pieces of the world that she has curated through her travels. Her space is a perfect demonstration of how to blend antique and modern into one gorgeous home.

Julie Goebel

Throughout her life, Goebel has lived in Mexico, Germany, and Switzerland. Everywhere she goes, she loves to observe the life around her – Goebel is convinced that every person and thing in this world has a story to tell. That shows in her space that she has curated as well. Every single item that Goebel has added to her home has a story behind it. 

“I’m drawn to objects that tell a story – old letters, expired passports, or other ephemera. […] I collect as a way to display the different aspects of my life and why they matter.” (223)

Like her daughter, her home is based on a natural, cohesive palette. The art and ephemera that she has collected are showcased beautifully within her home, each piece having the space to breathe their stories into the world around them.

Closing Thoughts

The way Flemming and Goebel have put together this book is like none other. Their style that is demonstrated in their own profiles on-page has leaked through into every page of the book. Reading it feels like you’re sitting back with the two of them over a cup of coffee and are sifting through pictures of their travels around the world. 

Travel Home is not only gorgeous but helpful as well; it demonstrates ways in which you can implement these design elements into your own home and life. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves to travel and who loves to bring a bit of the world into their homes.  

About the Authors

Caitlin Flemming is an interior designer, stylist, and founder of the style and interior design blog Sacramento Street. Julie Goebel is the founder of Travelers Conservation Foundation. Her design work can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle, Better Homes & Gardens, and Romantic Homes. They both live in San Francisco.