Mediterranean style evokes sun drenched hills and breezy seaports stretching from Spain to Greece, with influences ranging from traditional Islamic motifs to colours drawn from the earth itself. Relaxed and uncluttered yet often opulent, Mediterranean style is perfect for an indoor-outdoor room, a patio or your entire house.
- The Mediterranean Sea has played a vital role as a trade and transport route since ancient times. The exchange of goods across its shores was accompanied by an exchange of cultural influences.
- What is typically considered Mediterranean style today is predominantly Spanish, Italian and Greek in style. However, the region touches North Africa and Western Asia as well as Southern Europe.
- One of the strongest influences in Mediterranean style is Islamic motifs, as Spain was under Muslim (Moorish) control from the Eighth to the Eleventh Century.
- Mediterranean buildings are designed to blend indoors and out, to provide respite from the heat through careful design and material choice and to make the most of locally available materials as well as imported finery. Homes may feature shaded alcoves and private courtyards to permit people to enjoy the sun while staying protected.
How to get the look
- Blend Indoors and Out: Beginning with your building materials, Mediterranean style should reflect natural influences. Rough wood, smooth stone, chalky white plaster and terracotta are all traditional. You can introduce these elements as accents too, through items such as clay pots and jugs.
- Take Colour Cues from Mother Nature: The Mediterranean palette varies by region. In France, sunflower yellow, deep red, sea blue and pine and olive green are typical in both paint and fabric. Greece is known for the combination of bright white and sky blue. The North African palette, also common in Spain, is derived from natural pigments such as ochre (golden yellow-brown) and umber (brown). Pale pink and beige, as well as terracotta, are also a common. Pick several colours in one palette for your Mediterranean decor.
- Plan to Relax: To truly capture the spirit of the region, look for furniture pieces that are designed for relaxing such as a low, wide sofa or daybed or a built-in bench with oversize cushions for comfort. For a Moorish influence, place small but ornate coffee tables (think carved or inlaid wood) within easy reach. For a more Greek style, consider rustic pieces.
- Celebrate the Everyday: Rather than having cluttered homes, everyday objects are beautifully ornate and do double-duty as pieces of art. For your own home, look for items such as stamped brass teapots and serving platters, often available at Middle Eastern supermarkets. Oversize brass or ironwork lanterns can also lend Mediterranean flare. Rich fabrics incorporating raw silk, textured cottons, and gold embroidery add a touch of finery.
- A Touch of Glass: Mosaic tile is another way to add Mediterranean influence from small pieces such as coasters or serving trays to large installations like pool decks, framed mirrors or even garden walls. A mosaic-topped wrought iron cafe table adds instant, exotic charm to a deck or garden.
- Let the Shade In: Mediterranean homes diffuse sunlight through wooden or metal shutters or breezy gauze curtains. Multiple small windows are the norm, rather than the large picture windows common in North America
The next time a summer heat wave hits, your Mediterranean-inspired space will feel like a cool oasis.
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