Mediterranean Interior Design Guide: History and Style

Mediterranean interior design comes from countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, and Morocco that border the Mediterranean sea. Mediterranean interior design it’s an iconic design style known for its use of natural materials, airy look, and light but warm color palette.

Mediterranean interior design is common for high-end coastal homes, but you can bring it to any space.

The History of Mediterranean Interior Design

Elements of Mediterranean Interior Design

Twenty-one countries border the Mediterranean sea, and Mediterranean interior design borrows features from them all. The Mediterranean style originated in these countries, with residents using local natural materials to construct their homes and decor.

In a gist, Mediterranean design creates a romantic, airy atmosphere with stone walls, exposed ceiling beams, terra cotta, glazed clay, stucco, and light warm colors. But, depending on the region, variations of this style exist.

For instance, there are modern takes on Mediterranean interior design that incorporate more streamlined furniture and the user of sleeker materials. There’s also a play on the style called French Riviera, popular in the French region that borders the Mediterranean sea, offering a more glamorous look.

In Spain, a hallmark of Mediterranean style is terra cotta floors, while in Morocco, you’ll find more patterns and intricate woodwork.

Mediterranean interior design and architecture made its way to the United States in the 1920s. It symbolized wealth, and architects first debuted in seaside resorts. It later spread to residences and is most common in warm sunny states like California, Texas, and Florida.

Elements of Mediterranean Interior Design

Mediterranean interior design focuses on indoor/outdoor spaces with an old-world feel. It’s also a family-friendly style incorporating lots of seating and gathering places.

Here are the main elements of Mediterranean interior design.

Neutral Backdrop

While Mediterranean design often features pops of colors in textiles or patterned tile, the backdrop is neutral. White plaster or stucco walls are common, and so are warm tan painted walls.

Lots of Natural Light

Traditional Mediterranean homes feature arched windows, doors, and indoor/outdoor spaces. Maximizing the amount of natural light in your home can help connect the interior of your home with the outside and create an airy feel.

Stone, Terra Cotta, or Wood Floors

Mediterranean-style interior design encompasses abundant natural materials, and the floors are no exception. Stone and terra cotta are most common, but light or warm wide plank hardwoods also work.

Earthy or Sea-Inspired Accent Colors

The Mediterranean color palette pays homage to the sea and surrounding environment. Consider accents colors of blue, green, tan, orange, yellow, and red.

Patterned Tiles

Terra cotta and cement tiles are popular in the Mediterranean style because they stay cool in warm climates surrounding the Mediterranean sea. You’ll find painted or patterned tiles in most Mediterranean homes, but patterns vary depending on the region.

Exposed Ceiling Beams and Stone Walls

Exposed wooden ceiling beams are a common feature in Mediterranean-style homes. Many original Mediterranean homes also feature stone walls.

Furniture Made of Natural Material

Natural materials like wood, jute, sisal, bamboo, and wicker add texture and warmth. Opt for a large wooden dining table and choose natural finishes where possible.

Tuscan vs. Mediterranean Interior Design

Tuscan interior design is a subset of Mediterranean style. It originates from Tuscany, Italy, which borders the Mediterranean sea. The difference between the two is that Tuscan interior design only incorporates local influences, while Mediterranean interior design combines styles from all the countries bordering the sea.

What is Modern Mediterranean Interior Design?

Modern Mediterranean interior design features Mediterranean staples, including wooden ceiling beams, natural flooring, stone accents, and neutral walls but incorporates streamlined furniture and minimal decor. Since Mediterranean interior design is rich with raw materials, it creates the perfect backdrop for a high-end, minimal space.

Examples of Mediterranean-Style Interior Design

If you need some examples, check out these pictures of Mediterranean interior design.

Mediterranean Style Kitchen

Elements of Mediterranean Interior Design
Godden Sudik Architects Inc

The use of brick and wood in this Mediterranean kitchen adds a ton of texture while still creating a neutral backdrop. Even though this kitchen has modern conveniences, like a tv, it has an old-world feel and bright look.

Mediterranean Bedroom

Mediterranean Bedroom
Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc.

If you need Mediterranean bedroom inspo with a romantic flair, this one is a great example. A neutral brownstone floor, warm walls, and textured rug set the scene for pure white bedding. The patterned floral furniture and pink plants add a feminine touch to the space.

Modern Mediterranean Living Room

Modern Mediterranean Living Room
Paul Brant Williger Architect

The best way to create a modern Mediterranean style is to keep the main elements in the room natural, such as the ceiling, floor, doors, and walls, then add modern furniture. The clean-line furniture adds a contemporary touch to the traditional Mediterranean features that are more rustic.

Mediterranean Bathrooms

Mediterranean Bathrooms
Godden Sudik Architects Inc

Mediterranean bathrooms are rustic, often featuring wooden ceiling beams, wood vanities, tile floors, and stone accents. Most Mediterranean bathrooms have a warm, inviting feel.