Italy has long been considered the world’s leader in fashion, architecture, and design. When you think of timeless art and stunning designers, your mind likely instantly goes to Italian style. It’s no wonder that so many of us want to imbue our own homes with the elegance and polish of Italian interior design.
However, achieving the seemingly effortless Italian interior design ethos is not always as easy as it seems. It’s all about combining the right hues, textures, and statement pieces ‘just so’ – creating a modern and fresh feeling that nods to classic elegance. That said, with a few tips and tricks, it can be done – anyone can create an Italian oasis in their home.
Whether you want your home to have the cosy feel of a Sicilian bolthole or the chic Mediterranean cool or the Amalfi Coast, follow our tips to achieve Italian interior design perfection in your home.
The world’s fascination with Italian interior design dates back to Renaissance design and architecture. Travellers from around the world wrote breathless accounts of the stunning buildings, art, design, and fashion that they encountered in 15th Century Florence, Venice, Rome, and Milan.
While this Old World Ornate Italian design continues to stun and impress, Italian design has grown and changed over the centuries. The second half of the 20th century was characterised a chic and contemporary Modern Italian design movement.
In the past, people have tended to keep these interior design movements separate, but today they are often combined. That means that you can shake up your sleek, mid-century Italian lounge with a few ornate, baroque art pieces, making for a luxurious contrast.
Italian interior design is all about classic good taste, minimalism, and high-quality luxury pieces. That’s why it’s better to spend more on a few truly outstanding pieces than to spend a middling amount filling your home with unremarkable furniture and art. In order to really grasp the ethos behind Italian interior design, you must contemplate the beauty and design of each item. Do they fit into your home? Does it tell a story? Do you truly love the item? If you can’t answer with a resounding ‘yes’ – then the answer should be a big ‘No!’
No centimetre of your home should be overlooked – if you cannot afford the finest craftsmanship for wall panels, chandeliers, or cushions, you should consider purchasing fewer and spending more on each item. Over time, your home will be imbued with the value and uniqueness of each individual element. Italian interior design is about minimalism paired with outstanding details.
Worried about your budget? You don’t need to be. Italian interior design can be done on a smaller budget as long as you hone your artistic eye. If you can’t afford the art of your dreams, consider hiring a local artist to paint a mural on the wall. Reclaimed wood can be given new life and transformed into flooring, furniture, and art pieces.
Avoid anything that screams ‘nouveau riche,’ or that is cheap and tacky. If you can’t yet afford real Italian marble, nothing is tackier than a fake plastic knock-off. Part of Italian interior design is knowing how to make the most of what you have, and making it look its very best.
Following these tips will help you to bring Italian interior design to life and transform your home.
Italy has a long and storied history, so it’s no wonder that Italian interior design often includes nods to the past. While your space should be modern, clean, and sleek, a gorgeous baroque art piece or ornate piece of furniture can truly help mix things up.
Even if you live in a new build, you can recreate the history and importance of the past by scouring antique shops, online auctions, and car boots to find the perfect historical pieces for your home.
As we have detailed above, many enviable Italian homes mix modernism with odes to the past. Statement furniture can help to break up the modernist landscape of your room by giving it a bold pop of colour, texture, and intrigue. Consider a statement chair – it can introduce an element of creativity and wild beauty into any interior.
Think of Sloane & Sons stylish chairs as sculptures you can sit on, and really build a room around. Look out for fine wood, luxury textiles, and brass fixtures – it’s all about proportions and details.
If you want to embody the look and feel of Italian interior design, you need to embrace open spaces. Italian homes tend to be more open and spacious than British homes, with fewer walls and a less poky feel. Massive rooms, high ceilings, and open terraces.
To get this feeling, even in a small space, you should consider knocking down unnecessary walls in order to create an open plan kitchen/dining space. Let the light in as much as possible, and don’t crowd your space with extra furniture and knickknacks – it’s ok to have a space that can ‘breathe.’
Italians are legendary for their use of stonework, from terracotta tile floors to their famous marble counters and baths. Not everyone can afford to retile their floors or fly authentic marble in from Milan, but you can add a few intricate tiles to your walls as gorgeous wall hangings. This will add interest, colour, and Italian design to any room.
In Italy, there has been a recent resurgence of interest in small cement tiles — called ‘cementine’. These could be an on-trend and affordable way to jazz up your kitchen, bathroom, or terrace.
While modern Italian design is almost Scandinavian in its minimalism, it never veers towards the starkness of their Northern counterparts. Italian minimalism should be accessorised with warm and interesting pieces, such as a buttery rich leather sofa, a jewel-toned area rug, or a massive piece of art that really catches the eye.
Of course, Italians are known for their spectacular cuisine, famous the world over. The kitchen should be a place where it is easy to create feasts for the family, but is also a place to socialise and relax. If you have the space, place a small sofa or comfortable chairs in the kitchen so that guests and family members alike can keep the chef company while they cook!
Of course, after all of that sumptuous cooking, Italians gather to enjoy the fruits of their labour in the dining room. This might be a small nook in your kitchen, an offshoot of your lounge, or a completely separate room. No matter what, your dining area should be a place of high honour in your home. Use high-quality linens, set out a vase of fresh flowers, and serve your food on understated tableware that allows the food to shine.
When you hear the word ‘neutral,’ you might already feel bored – but neutral colours can actually be rich, exciting, and luscious. Complement a sleek neutral palette of ‘griege’, taupe, and cream with contrasting pops of deep wine, earthy browns, and olive greens.
If you’re really stuck for ideas, consider thumbing through old Italian fashion magazines, architecture journals, or watching some classic cinema. Adding a classic Italian travel poster or more modern piece inspired by iconic Italian designers could really jazz up your space and lend it that timeless element found in the best interiors.
Italians know the importance of wonderful lighting, and that’s why they’re known for their chandeliers. However, you don’t have to go with an over the top chandelier – consider a more modern lighting centrepiece to add interest and mood. If you some room in your budget, consider splashing out on traditional Italian craftsmanship, such as a mouth-blown Murano glass lighting fixture.
As you begin to follow these tips and tricks, you will soon start to transform your home and embody the tenets behind Italian interior design. Stick with what you love, and buy the best that you can afford. Happy decorating!
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Cowsill, I. (2017). 5 Features of Italian Interior Design | Blog | Nabru. [online] Blog | Nabru. Available at: https://www.nabru.co.uk/blog/top-5-fundamental-features-of-italian-interior-design/ [Accessed 20 May 2020].
Hubbard, L. (2018). How to Master a Modern Italian Look at Home. [online] ELLE Decor. Available at: https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/a21288225/modern-italian-design-ideas/ [Accessed 20 May 2020].
Little, S. (2014). Why Italian-Style Home Decor Is So Popular. [online] Freshome.com. Available at: https://freshome.com/inspiration/why-italian-style-home-decor-is-so-popular/ [Accessed 20 May 2020].
Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.