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If you've ever had the privilege to experience a taste of la dolce vita in Italy, then you'll understand the dilemma I am facing; I want to shop for everything. The homes and hotels of Italian tastemakers have well and truly stolen my heart, so I set myself a little challenge to narrow down these trends to just five – five key home decor trends that I would slowly incorporate into my own home.
You may already be familiar with, or even own, a few of these Italian-influenced designs. See which ones are having a moment below – at least for me – and get inspiration for how to decorate with them in your own space.
5 Italian decor trends I adore
It's easy to see why Italian design remains so seductive. The very pillars of Italy's furniture and furnishings trade – those of quality materials, expert craftsmanship and generations-deep family businesses – provide a sense of tradition and a human touch often lost in a modern world.
1. Terracotta color schemes
Inject warmth and depth into your interior with inviting terracotta tones reminiscent of the sun-baked surfaces of Sicilian climes – from rich reds to burnt orange.
For a decorating scheme that conjures the sunbaked walls of ancient Italian civilizations, take inspiration from the earth tones of terracotta. Evocative of old Italy, this clay-inspired color scheme is named from ‘terra cocta’, which in Latin means ‘baked earth’.
Today, terracotta is a giving shade, either playing its part as an accent color or as the main backdrop in a decorating scheme. Its generosity of character means that terracotta has the ability to wrap its arms around your home with its all-year-round mood of warmth.
Its depth of color means that terracotta is perfect for the various American climates and for north-facing rooms, adding a glow to the darkest of corners and making spaces feel cozy.
When it comes to deciding how much terracotta to use in a scheme, Sue Jones, Oka’s co-founder, says: ‘People can be a bit wary of using red as it’s naturally quite a vibrant color, but I think it all comes down to the tones you choose. Richer shades such as terracotta and blood orange can bring a real sense of warmth to a space. I would suggest using them as accent colors and mixing them with a calming, neutral palette.’
2. Mixing rustic with modern
Carefully combining rustic with modern decor is an Italian specialty that many often get wrong. But get it right, and the results are simply stunning. The modern rustic interior decor trend strikes the perfect balance between cozy and homespun; like an escape to the countryside without leaving the city limits.
A mixture of rustic touches and traditional elegance, of smart yet accessible design is so relevant to the way we live now, whether among rolling fields or in an urban landscape. With a nod to the past, but firmly rooted in the present, this distinct style offers a simple way to achieve a timeless aesthetic. Think Italian Nonna chic but with all the mod-cons that you've come to know and rely on.
If in any doubt about where to begin, always start with color. Avoid an expansive space from appearing too clinical or sterile by decorating with neutrals. One important aspect to consider when decorating with a subtle or muted color palette is to bring in as much texture as possible as it creates interest and layers – important factors when strong room colors are out of the picture.
Texture in interior design is crucial if you want to create a modern rustic room that is also contemporary yet cozy. Quite simply, without texture, your space will fall flat. It's vital to look at the room as a whole and bring an area together with mixed materials for energy and warmth.
'Texture can determine how a modern rustic room looks and feels, so invest in plenty of raw materials alongside natural reclaimed wood, linen, wool – and elements of greenery,' says homeowner Lauren Meichtry, founder of Elsie Home.
3. Kitchens with character
Decorative kitchens, with plenty of personality, are rife in Italy. For many traditional Italian families, the kitchen is truly the heart and soul of the home.
No matter the era or status of the home, the kitchen was first and foremost a functional space. It is the engine room of the home, the space that keeps everything running smoothly. It is somewhere that meals are prepared and sometimes eaten, as well as being where the essential household tasks are carried out. However, this is only part of its role – it is also the hub of the house.
Today, the kitchen is a space to commune and spend time with family and friends. The duality of its role means that it is important that the kitchen not only meets your practical needs but is also beautifully decorated, offering a warm welcome to anyone who passes its threshold.
This delightfully bold and bright kitchen in the heart of Florence’s historical center is a visual feast for the senses. Designed by Officine Gullo, the colors have been chosen to harmoniously chime with the architecture and furnishings that define the room.
‘Colorful kitchen ideas have been enjoying rather a renaissance, and we’re seeing brighter colors on walls, cabinets, and even ceilings,’ says Emma Bulmer, head color consultant at Edward Bulmer Natural Paint. ‘The colors and color combinations being used are also becoming more creative and confident.'
4. Patterned tiles
Often featuring a myriad of intricate patterns, original patterned tiles are highly sought after. Globally, Italian manufacturing and innovation dominate the design industry, and tiles are no exception.
More than any other floor and wallcovering, tiles have undergone a renaissance, becoming a design favorite whether used in a new build or to remodel an existing home. While there are plenty of choices for popular neutral tones, the big tile trend is for tiles that feature the dazzling colors and patterns of traditional Moorish and Italian tiles.
As reclaimed tiles come from all sorts of properties, they often have a unique story attached to them. 'We source a lot of tiles from junkyards – a good place to start if you only need a few replacement tiles to mix and match,' says Andy Triplow from The Vintage Floor Tile Company. 'However, reclamation companies often only stock a handful of tiles and are unable to offer enough for a complete floor, which is why it is good to start collecting early.'
5. Lighting with purpose
No one does innovative and contemporary design quite like some of the world's best Italian designers. Lighting with purpose, be it sculptural or to highlight a focal point, is a look that the Italians have perfected.
With their delicate interplay between form and function, all rooms benefit from a well-executed decorative lighting scheme. During my time away, I was taken aback by the creativity on display when it came to choosing light sources.
Lighting isn't just about the light. There are many design-led options for your home and backyard, from decorative pendants to wall lights with an extendable arm. Remember that warm white light will create an inviting glow.
'Homeowners are seeking unique pieces for their homes that create maximum impact,' says Ian Cameron, creative director at Cameron Design House. 'From unusual shapes to innovative materials, there is an increased desire from customers looking to be more daring in their design choices. There will be a demand for unusual and eye-catching light pieces that challenge every day and are show-stopping art forms in themselves.'
Shop the Italian-style decor edit
Achieving the Italian dream in your home is easier than you think. I've selected my favorite buys for you to shop below. They are already in my basket...
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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