Creating a home that captures the grace and elegance of Mediterranean architecture can make you feel as if you’re on vacation all the time. This simple style is easy to adapt to different spaces and offers lots of different possibilities. It’s best suited to large, low-ceilinged rooms that get plenty of light, but with the right approach, it can complement any home.
A fusion of styles
To get a look that’s truly Mediterranean, it’s helpful to know something about the history of the area. The reason that the Mediterranean has such a rich culture is twofold. First of all, the balmy climate and the ease with which food could be obtained gave people the freedom to think about more than just survival from an early stage. Secondly, it’s a meeting point for civilizations. Each of those civilizations has made its own contributions to the architecture and interior stylings popular in the region. This means that it’s just as important to take into account African and Middle Eastern influences as European ones.
Walls and floors
Much of the distinctive look that we associate with the Mediterranean stems from the way that walls and floors are decorated. Stucco plaster with a light coating of pale-hued paint or wallpaper designed to mimic this effect makes a great starting point. Floors are usually stone-flagged, with terracotta, marble and granite among the popular choices. For a simpler look, you can paint your floorboards in white or eggshell blue. For a fancier look, you can use designer tiles to create beautiful arabesques or lay an Ottoman rug across bare boards stained a dark or deep red color.
Windows and doors
Mediterranean windows tend to be big and open, often leading onto terraces or adorned with window boxes full of flowers on the outside. Byzantine-style wrought iron frames can give them a truly elegant look, or if you prefer something simpler and more charming, you can opt for painted shutters. These are a fantastic choice for bedroom decoration because they really block out the light effectively, helping you to get a good night’s sleep. Doorways and doors, meanwhile, add to the effect if they have a rustic look with exposed wood and not-quite-linear shapes. Carved wood creates a more sophisticated impression.
Traditional Mediterranean furniture is big. Look for tables made from long planks of wood, supported by wooden or wrought iron legs. Big armoires and chests of drawers are useful for lots of things and can really dominate a room. A home like this is never cluttered but features a few striking pieces that provide for every need. Wrought iron four-poster beds are an excellent choice. Ottomans are often used as window seats, and sofas tend to be long and low, often arranged opposite one another, with lots of patterned cushions.
Kitchens and bathrooms
Kitchens and bathrooms should also be kept simple but provide you with a great opportunity to get creative with the patterned ceramic tiles popular in the region. These look great on a splashback or a small feature wall. They can be used to create friezes at shoulder height, which add character to a room. Blue and white ones are the easiest to combine effectively, but don’t be afraid to go for the full-color displays popular in Morocco and Spain, with multiple bright primary hues in exuberant patterns. Add the finishing touch to your kitchen by mixing and matching different pieces of handmade pottery.
Despite the uncluttered look of Mediterranean homes, adding the right accessories is the key to really bringing this look to life. Low-hanging lights and multiple small lanterns bracketed onto walls or strung along a terrace add a touch of magic after dark. Tall candlesticks look elegant on the mantel, and a floor-standing candelabra or two can add a dramatic character to the dining room. Indoor plants – especially small trees – are great for framing doorways, staircases or fireplaces. Small, religious-themed paintings or pieces of stained glass are perfect for those odd little niches around the house. Pieces of Classical statuary look right at home. Just remember not to place anything where it will block the flow of light.
When assembled with care – less is usually more – a Mediterranean-style home like this will look truly magnificent. For the finishing touch, fill it up with the fresh scents of the region: lemon, thyme, lavender or freshly brewed dark coffee. You’ll soon be dreaming of long summer days by the sea on the perfect getaway.