Want to introduce a coastal-meets-luxury feel to your home? The experts say it is time to get to know Riviera interior design

With a mix of influences, the eclectic, Mediterranean-inspired nature of a Riviera style is popular among interior designers

riviera interior design style
(Image credit: Studio Atkinson / Creative Tonic / Paloma Contreras)

Rooted in the sun-drenched landscapes of the French and Italian Rivieras, Riviera interior design evokes a sense of Mediterranean tranquility and sophistication that cannot be matched.

This interior design style has influences from across the board of architecture and aesthetics: neo-classical, Art Deco, and coastal decor ideas to name a few – the hallmarks of a Riviera-inspired home balance simplicity and opulence to remain timeless.

Weathered wood, wrought iron accents, and ceramic tiles provide a tactile connection to the European coast, while large windows and light fabrics ensure spaces remain bright and breezy. In essence, it is about creating a home that feels like a permanent vacation.

Feeling inspired? Let's take a deeper dive into the details of Riviera interior design.

5 Defining Characteristics Of Riviera Interior Design

blue and white canopy bed in riviera style

(Image credit: Creative Tonic)

A tricky aesthetic to define, the Riviera style is an amalgam of influences. Heavily inspired by the region's history, culture, and climate, this design aesthetic blends vintage and contemporary with coastal themes and a touch of 1920s and 30s Art Deco decor. Think heavy molding, geometric shapes, and clean lines that reflect the grand hotels seen along the Riviera.

'At its heart, Riviera style is all about bold, cheerful colors, laidback luxury, and classic European design details,' explains interior designer Kathy Kuo. 'Try a tablescape set with Italian-inspired dishware, add pops of goldenrod, cobalt blue, and tomato red throughout your decor vignettes, and experiment with breezy textiles like linen and canvas,' she suggests.

Here, we explain the top 5 hallmarks of Riviera interior design and how to recreate a sense of European opulence in your own home.

1. A nod to the neo-classical

french riviera style living room with antique and vintage influences

(Image credit: Studio Atkinson)

Riviera interiors are all about celebrating the grandeur of classical architecture while infusing it with a sense of lightness and ease. Neo-classical, a more minimal and refined take on Rococo interiors, influences the Riviera style thanks in part to its history. But also, in its use of color.

Of course, you see the influences in the symmetry, the grand proportions, and the use of columns, pediments, and cornices. The neo-classical color palette however is much more hushed and pared-back.

Mimicking the coastal beauty of the Riviera, the hues you want to introduce in your home for your room color ideas are an array of blues (from pale to bold), grays, and sandy neutrals to create a light and airy feeling.

2. Natural materials

traditional antique style bathroom with french influences and natural materials

(Image credit: Peter Dunham)

Not to be confused with rustic decor ideas, natural materials like wood, stone, and marble are a cornerstone of the Riviera style. Capturing the relaxed nature of life by the sea, the use of organic materials helps to bring the outdoors inside.

Look to capture the feeling of a sun-soaked retreat with Mediterranean decor. Stone and terracotta floors are the most popular ways to bring some texture, warmth, and tactility to a space. Then turn to your furniture and include pieces made of eco-friendly, materials like wood but be sure to select items that remain luxurious in stature.

In this transitional bathroom, seen above, the space remains elegant and traditional with the use of shapes and decor, while the marble, oak, and original herringbone floors bring an earthy, natural vibe. Breezy linen sheer window treatments hang at the ornate balcony doors.

3. Provencal influences

french riviera inspired dining room with floral wallpaper and coastal accents

(Image credit: Paloma Contreras)

The Riviera look is a carefully curated mix of French history and culture, with hints of Roman and Greek decor trends and a nod to the coast throughout. The South of France, in particular, is best known for its provencal style which is echoed throughout the Riviera.

The Provencal style is warm and inviting and is all about embracing simplicity and comfort. It's a celebration of the rural lifestyle seen in Southern France that blends perfectly with a coastal vibe. Incorporate vintage or antique furniture to achieve that authentic Provencal look. Look for pieces made of wood or wrought iron with gentle curves, carved details, and a patina that reflects its story.

'The dining room [seen above] really does resurrect the feeling of wandering through a French estate,' describes interior designer Paloma Contreras. 'We lined the entire space in a Schumacher chinoiserie wall covering that totally envelops you in the room. We were drawn to this specific paper for its pretty greens with hints of blue and even pale pink, which felt so fresh.' Mix and match patterns like florals, checks, and stripes to create a charming, layered look that feels both rustic and elegant.

4. Mix of vintage and modern

riviera style living room with large mirror and ceiling moldings

(Image credit: Studio Atkinson)

Bringing together old and new for a transitional design space is the easiest way to create a timeless home. Decorating with antiques allows for a unique and personalized aesthetic, where the charm of vintage meets the sleek lines of modern design.

In a Riviera-inspired home, heirloom furniture, antique lighting, and decorative accessories that evoke a sense of history are popular. Furniture and decor pieces are often ornate but not overly ostentatious, with elegant curves, delicate carvings, and luxurious fabrics like silk, linen, and velvet. Everything should feel effortless and refined.

Don't overlook the historical architectural features of your home, too. This style favors gilding, moldings, niches, and archways so look to uncover and restore them, and pair them with more modern pieces to allow these decorative elements to shine. Additionally, using modern materials like glass, metal, and concrete alongside vintage wood and textiles can create a harmonious blend of textures and finishes.

5. A connection to nature

a lakehouse patio with black and white riviera design style and antique french pieces

(Image credit: Morgan Madison Design)

Riviera interiors are all about capturing the essence of the Mediterranean's natural beauty, so creating spaces that feel, open, airy, and connected to its surroundings is crucial.

Of course, natural materials will already be helpful in achieving this, as will vast windows and doors that invite the outdoors in. Including the best indoor plants is another simple yet effective way to connect with nature. From potted olive trees to fresh herbs in the kitchen, incorporating greenery will bring life and vibrancy to the aesthetic.

Patios, balconies, and outdoor living rooms are designed as extensions of indoor living areas, often furnished with comfortable seating, weather-resistant fabrics, and decorative elements like lanterns and potted plants.

Designer Tanner Morgan, founder of Morgan Madison Design, who created the outdoor space above says: 'At a recent lake house project, we channeled the Riviera but in classic black and white tones. We were fortunate to have an elevated residence with land sloping down to the lakefront, allowing us to carve into the landscape, creating a series of terraces reminiscent of Cinque-Terre. Groupings of antique olive jars and artfully placed water features underscore the European influence. Meanwhile, the dapper black and white theme lends a resort vibe to the seating areas.'

Riviera style is more than simply adopting a new color palette with some European-inspired elements thrown in for good measure. Instead, it's about creating a vacation-style escape within your own four walls. This aesthetic offers a timeless blend of elegance, comfort, and natural beauty, drawing inspiration from the sun-soaked landscapes and relaxed lifestyle of the Mediterranean coast.

For more decorating ideas, we explore, what is modern Mediterranean design in our separate feature.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome