Monday, August 24, 2009

About Mediterranean Decor

The southern regions of Europe along the Mediterranean Sea are warm, balmy climates, conducive to outdoor living. Mediterranean decor reflects the natural colors and rustic textures found along the coastline. The Mediterranean style is born of Spanish, Italian and Greek influences; these countries each bring a mix of local color and culture to the interior schemes that embrace the blend of indoors and outdoor living. Does this Spark an idea?


Mediterranean decor is a mix of brilliant whites and cool blues, warm creamy tones and earthy reds and browns. Pine furniture, wrought iron accessories and textured walls are all part of the Mediterranean design. Fabrics range from gauzy sheer window treatments to heavy woven tapestries hung on walls as works of art. Large upholstered furniture is done up in solid colors, complimented by colorful throw pillows and area rugs. The line between indoor and outdoor rooms is blurred in Mediterranean decor. Wide planked floors and terra-cotta tiled patios and courtyards are nearly seamless, extending living spaces. Outdoor dining spaces with long wood tables and an eclectic mix of chairs and cushions are a common trait to Mediterranean design.


Italian Mediterranean decor includes marble floors and wood beamed ceilings, tapestry style fabrics and wrought iron chandeliers. The Italian Mediterranean home is filled with ornately carved chairs and tables, large-scale upholstered furnishings and a vast array of pottery, stoneware and ceramics. The Greek influences on Mediterranean decor are more reserved than the elaborate and opulent Italian style. Walls and floors are whitewashed and furniture is upholstered in cool blues and sea greens. Like the Italian decor, the Spanish Mediterranean makes use of a broad spectrum of color and materials. But the dark blues similar to the Greek styles are more prevalent in Spanish design than in the Italian. But where the Italian reds and yellows are brighter and more distinct, the Spanish are earthier and finishes are more apt to be matte than shiny.


Blends of all three influences make for designs that are at once elegant and comfortable. Common to any style of Mediterranean decor is the unifying of indoor and outdoor spaces. Courtyards and gardens are decorated with as much care as the interior. Outdoor rooms are equipped with long tables made of pine or oak and seat up to 12 people. These al fresco dining rooms are usually outside the kitchen, which is central to the home. The Mediterranean kitchen has ochre or white plaster walls, tiled floors and windows with deep sills for potted herbs. Materials such as marble, granite and stone are commonly used for counter tops. Hand painted tiles are used for the back splash and wrought iron hardware dresses up the cabinetry. Throughout the interior, accessories are prominent and play an important role in adding texture. Ceramic pottery, tiled tabletops, oil paintings and tapestries compliment the textured walls and beamed ceilings. The mix of high-end materials and soft furnishings, rough-hewn wood and wrought iron and fabrics in both quiet hues and brilliant color are distinctive characteristics of Mediterranean design.


The melding of the Italian, Greek and Spanish Mediterranean influences has come to influence other decorating schemes as well. California mission, southwestern, Mexican colonial and interpretations of Moroccan decor all draw from the Mediterranean styles. In the Western United States, Mexico and parts of Central and South America, the climate is conducive to Mediterranean décor. The colors of the regions are similar to those of the Mediterranean regions in Europe.


Climate, then, often dictates the kinds of style a region adapts. The mild climates allow for year round outdoor living and so the architectural design of homes and the interior schemes are directed toward taking advantage of the fine weather conditions. These same conditions create a natural color palette for the Mediterranean style. The starchy whites of the Greek seaside mixed with deep blues and sea greens do well along the west coastlines. The earthy reds and pale yellows of the Spanish style lend themselves to the desert southwest and to the Mexican hacienda.


Mediterranean decor, then, is seen not only along the Mediterranean coastline, but throughout the Western continents as well. It has been re-interpreted to adapt to individual regional climates, color and culture, drawing from local materials and crafts to establish yet another niche in the vast array of schemes that is Mediterranean decor.

Tags: Mediterranean decor, wrought iron, Mediterranean design, outdoor living, along Mediterranean, beamed ceilings, blues greens