Mediterranean Style Interior Design: Classic and Modern

Mediterranean living room
Greek style Mediterranean living room

Evoke the romance and cornucopia of smells, tastes, and colors on the southern coast of Europe by designing your home with Mediterranean flair. The region's casual and friendly lifestyle is reflected in the relaxed design, rustic furniture, and wall textures. It's a colorful and pleasing design style that brings a touch of the Mediterranean to even the most northern home.

Mediterranean Design Elements and Influences

Mediterranean style refers, roughly, to the design style of the south of Greece, Italy, and Spain. This region is known for its turquoise waters (hence, the cote d'azur), sparkling sunlit days and vibrant produce and flowers, which are mirrored in Mediterranean design. Each country uses specific colors, fabrics, textures and materials influenced by their culture but all typically stay true to incorporating the outdoors, rustic furniture, hardwood or stone tile floors, and wall textures.

Greek Style

This style traditionally features white stucco walls and white wash wood floors with accents of cobalt blue and wrought iron patio-type furniture. Stately columns and arches are often used in this style along with Greek motifs and patterns within the textures and fabrics.

Creating the Greek style is easy and looks great with other Modern styles, such as in the Mediterranean living room as seen in the image to the upper right. The white wash walls, beams with touches of turquoise and cobalt blue accents within the chandelier, shelves, and accessories are typical of this style. While the furniture is more modern, the use of all-white pieces adds to the casual, patio-type feel often found within this design theme.

Italian Style

Italian Mediterranean Style is similar to Tuscan design; carefree and casual, emphasizing the colors and textures found in the surrounding landscape. Cast iron, ornate pieces of furniture are found in this style, along with the use of earth tone colors, like oranges, deep reds and yellow, along with dark wood or rustic stone floors and weathered, brown stucco walls.

A good example is this Mediterranean-Italian bedroom that has dark, hardwood floors, archways, and textured walls. The key elements are the use of regional style furniture and earthy shades of browns, reds and yellows.

Italian style Mediterranean bedroom
Italian style Mediterranean bedroom

Spanish Style

Spanish Mediterranean Style, is like Spanish interior design; it uses Moroccan furniture, vibrant colors and mosaic murals that feature cobalt blue, yellow and dark red stones. These mosaics can also be found within mirror frames, tabletops or on accessories, such as lamps, pottery and vases. It's also common in this style to paint walls deep purple or blue as well as have terra-cotta tile floors.

An example of this Spanish influence is found in this Mediterranean foyer. The grand mosaic tile archway, clay pots, rustic bench, rough-hewn light fixtures and terra-cotta floors all reflect this rustic, casual style.

Spanish style Mediterranean staircase and foyer
Spanish style Mediterranean staircase and foyer

Furniture and Accessories

Rustic, colorful European furniture and accessories create the exact design you're looking for in the home.

Furniture Pieces

Large, usually pine, armoires are common - they were a necessity in 18th and 19th century homes that had no closets. In modern homes, these massive pieces can double as entertainment centers or linen closets. Mediterranean-style furniture reflects the casual lifestyle and community of the Mediterranean. Light pine furniture is a signature of this design style, as are large pieces, such as a plank kitchen table, suitable for eight to twelve diners. Mediterranean kitchens are always open to neighbors and friends.

Accessories and Decorative Accents

Accessories in Mediterranean style interior design are also rustic and colorful. Door and furniture hardware are often made of rough-hewn iron. Lighting and chandeliers are constructed of the same rough-hewn iron and some use mosaic jeweled glass on lamps and shades. Additionally, mosaic tile accessories, taken from Spain's Islamic influences, are frequently found on tabletops, countertops, mirrors and even stuck in plaster as wall adornments.

Smaller accessories are mostly useful items, such as copper and iron cookware, colorful crockery and braids of garlic, peppers, and onions. Flowers, whether fresh, dried, or simulated, add another source of color to a Mediterranean room.

Water is another common Mediterranean design element, and many European homes include a courtyard fountain or other water feature. North American homeowners can capture this feel with a ceramic wall fountain or lavabo.

Certified International Tunisian Sunset Dinner Plates Set of 4
Certified International Tunisian Sunset dinner plates

Walls and Flooring

The key feature in Mediterranean style rooms are stucco walls and terra-cotta tile or stone floors. Stucco walls can be created with wallpaper or by applying plaster to your walls, you can do this yourself or hire a drywall professional. Terra-cotta tile and stone floors are a dominate feature of Mediterranean style and can be installed by you or a contractor.

A Modern Take on Mediterranean Decorating

Mediterranean style can be blended with the modern style to create a trend called Mod-Mediterranean. Unlike the eclectic style, Mod-Mediterranean is a combination of two distinct styles, Mediterranean and Modern, to create a clean, fresh look but keep some traditional elements.

Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri advices homeowners to use contemporary style in the details and rustic elements in the large areas. You can do this by adding Old World elements, like terra-cotta or travertine tile floors along with rustic wood beams on ceilings and archways and then complement this with modern key elements in the focal points, such as within a fireplace, chandelier, or furniture.

Create a Restful European Retreat

Regardless if you decide to incorporate Mod-Mediterranean or strictly use the Mediterranean style in your home, with a little time and patience, your home can become a colorful and restful European hideaway. Select pieces that fit your vision within the styles you desire and you'll enjoy it for years.

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Mediterranean Style Interior Design: Classic and Modern