Your living room is often the ‘face’ of your house, and the first room to greet you when you enter. If it’s a soothing abode in a style that’s easy to achieve and that allows you to draw on several influences rather than having to implement one style rigidly, the widely appealing Mediterranean makeover is for you.
As the name suggests, this décor genre draws on the idyllic sea, sad, sun and jewel tones of countries lucky enough to bask in the warm, moderate glow of the Mediterranean ocean-side sun.
The main influences are Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Moroccan and Turkish – and thanks to the latter two countries, you’ll find a distinctly Moorish feel coming through in tapestries, rugs, ornate woven wall hangings and accessories in particular.
Of these regional influences, Greek tends to be the most far removed, although by no means excluded. If you’re going Greek, think of an island getaway with white, azure blue and aquamarine sea colours, and Greek patterns on the wall. Mediterranean touches, if you’re partial to them, could be to incorporate more olive greens and sunset hues.
The Italian town of Tuscany also sits snugly on the Mediterranean coast and while it shares similarities with Mediterranean décor, the main variable is that Tuscan décor tends not to incorporate other regional influences. Tuscan style is quintessentially Italian, and characterized by the rustic charm of old farmhouses.
The walls are often textured to resemble crumbling stone. Often real stone or textured plaster is used. Rustic wood furnishings and frames, stencil décor, wine motifs and traditional murals are customary along the Tuscan coast. Missing from Tuscan style most notably, are the ornate, vividly coloured Moorish influences of Morocco, Turkey and Persia (modern-day Iran).
Mediterranean houses in general tend to be rather spacious, one-storey affairs with high ceilings. If there is a second story, this would be for the bedrooms. Often, the living room area opens onto a central outside courtyard or patio, overlooked by the rest of the home.
The overall feel is opulent and luxurious with rustic touches – and the living room is no exception.
To this end, solid wood furniture with ornate embellishments either in the wood craftsmanship or fabrics is characteristic of this style, as are vintage pieces with a ‘lived-in’ feel – think of your favourite leather chair, and you’ve got the picture. The furniture is also bold, with large, carved table paws and chair legs. Wrought iron accents are not uncommon. In general, the furniture is bold and aesthetically on the indulgent side, rather than sleek or modern. This also means that the furniture is not fully covered with fabric to allow the wooden frames to be on show, with the usual fabric coverings being leather, a velvet-like material or a rich tapestry.
You’ll often find a terracotta fireplace or wrought iron heat haven in Mediterranean living rooms.
These depend very much on the region. Start with a warm earthy tones, infused with the likes of warm brown, olive green, gold, tan and charcoal. Then add any jewel colours you wish, to the extent that pleases you –opal, amber, citrine, olive green, olive green, burgundy, ruby.
The more vivid you decide to go with your jewel tones, the more Moorish your influences will be: here we’re talking tanzanite purple, cobalt blue, azure blue, emerald green, burgundy and sunset orange.
Luckily, earth and sand tones complement all jewel tones well, so you are unlikely to go wrong.
Go for texture, texture and more texture on the walls, in the form of wall plastering, stone, mosaics, hung tapestry or anything else. Wall-to-wall wood veneers are not recommended as this takes you into log cabin territory, but oak, teak and similar wood accents make for on-genre cabinets, shelving and the like.
Limestone, marble, mosaic or embellished tiles and terracotta tiles are the Mediterranean floor styles of choice. If your budget does not allow you to purchase the real thing, go for the huge array of high quality imitation, cultured and engineers marble and polished limestone tiles available on the market today.
Cotton-loom rugs are found in Spanish regions while wool and silk tapestries signify Moorish influences.
Vintage chandeliers and wrought iron candelabras and lamp bases hit the mark. Curtain drapery is beautiful and ornate, but on the sheer side as the idea is not to obscure light. Woven cotton, silk and other light-favourable fabrics are used as curtaining.
Gorgeous stained windows are also found commonly but as these tend to obscure light, they are direct light-facing area and not adorned with any additional drapery.
Need to consult an interior decorator to nail your Med living room style? We’ve compiled the cream of the crop of designers who’ll be able to transform your existing look, no matter the budget. Import bespoke pieces hassle-free, or get some advice on repurposing an older wooden piece you may have thrown away into that perfect rustic touch – the more nail scratching and uneven grain, the better!
The investment in your Mediterranean living room project is one of the wisest you can make – you’ll have furniture pieces you can hand down as heirlooms but, most importantly, know that your new haven won’t be out of style for many decades yet to come. Being able to go as modern or traditional as you like means being able to dictate how many changes you’ll make – enjoy the flexibility of this always on-trend décor trajectory!