From the design houses and couture of Milan to the classical world of ancient Rome, Italian inspired décor is found all over the world. Of course, in the ancient world much of the architecture to be found in Itlay was replicated in conquered lands. Nowadays, Italian designers are plagiarised from China to South America.You are as likely to find an Italian leather chair in the offices of Beijing or Rio De Janeiro as you are in Naples. In the modern era, Italians have made their mark with vehicle design and fashion just as much as interiors.
Nevertheless, most of us don’t live in homes that resemble a classic Roman villa. As such, using Italian design for inspiration should not be overdone. Instead of making your home a repository for all things Italian, use a more sparing touch to get the best results. A few hints of Italian chic here and there will work better in a conventional home. But with so many choices to be made, which are the best Italianate design cues to go for?
Marble is not really an Italian only product. After all, the iconic image of the Taj Mahal’s white cladding is made because of the use of this stunning material. Nevertheless, for many the very idea of marble is inescapably linked to the ancient world and, most of all, to Italy. There are plenty of good sources of marble in the United States, Russia, Greece and even Sweden.
However, it is the famous marble quarries of Carrara, in Tuscany, that most stonemasons favour. Marble has been used for centuries as a material to sculpt. Nowadays, you will find it used extensively in homes’ kitchens and bathrooms. If you are updating your bathroom, there can be few better choices than a luxurious sink, hewn from a single piece of marble. Cut marble makes for a great alternative to ceramic tiling in a kitchen and, because it is waterproof, will replace an area of splash back tiling. Alternatively, use it to clad a panel bath.
Bursting with warmth, terra cotta is another material that, like marble, is used all over the Italian peninsula. Ever popular, terra cotta literally means baked earth. It is a ceramic that retains much of its pigment from clay and can be used in either glazed or unglazed states.
A good choice of room to give an Italian makeover to, using terra cotta, is a sun lounge. If you have a second sitting room which gets plenty of natural light, or even a conservatory, choose glazed terra cotta tiling for the floor. Arrange your square tiles at 45 degrees to the walls with a banded edge to get the Roman look. Open plan kitchens can look a little cold sometimes. Italian terra cotta flooring will give the room warmth. The material is also great when used for wine storage or on a terrace.
Window treatments should not be overlooked if you want to hint at some Italian design inspiration. Roman blinds are the perfect addition for modern homes that might look out of kilter with other Italianate decorations. Available in a huge range of colors and patterns, you will find the right Roman blind for your home’s existing décor, even if you usually go for a minimalist, plain white look.
Don’t forget your home’s exterior if you have added an Italian design touch or two to your interior. Formal Italianate gardens look impressive but will be far too much in most suburban settings. Instead, go for the low maintenance version and incorporate some cypress trees into the garden’s design. Cypresses look good if they are arranged rather formally, in lines. They create a screen, at the boundaries of a garden, and add height to make the garden feel more architecturally designed. Set them at either side of an entrance way to create a theatrical touch.
Some designs just won’t go away – and for good reason. Tuscan style wooden chairs date back to Renaissance times and still look great in modern hallways. Or, how about a classically inspired mosaic for your bathroom for some true Italian inspiration?