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Get the Look: The Easy Elegance of Mediterranean Style

Recently, I discussed the various virtues of sea-themed colors; teals, blues, and turquoises. The versatility of those hues in no way ends with beach and cottage style homes, and sofas are certainly not the only way to utilize them. Which brings me to another great style adjacent to those themes: Mediterranean style. Focusing in on natural materials and sweeping lines, intricate patterns and the harmonious marriage of textures and colors, Mediterranean is perfect for livening up a boring or austere space. It kindles the feeling of breezy summer days and the light on the water. It’s also a style very close to my heart, since it’s the decor style of my family home.

Turquoise and teal are great breezy colors for a Mediterranean vibe. (By Amy Lau Design)
Turquoise and teal are great breezy colors for a Mediterranean vibe. (By Amy Lau Design)

To be precise, there isn’t exactly a definitively objective style of decor indicated by the title ‘Mediterranean’, at least not in the same way there is for ‘rococo’ or ‘art deco’. It’s a bit of a hand-wavey way to gather together the decorative trends of several different regions. Technically, it could include Middle Eastern, Greek, North African, Italian, and possibly even French decor. But typically when people say “Mediterranean” they are referring to Greek and Middle Eastern styles and architecture–the arabesque, the oval arch, the hypnotic patterns of paisley and damask.

Dark, weathered wood has a coastal, old-world air. (By Mykonos Panoromos Villas)
Dark, weathered wood has a coastal, old-world air. (By Mykonos Panoromos Villas)

One of the key elements of Mediterranean style is doubtlessly the use of dark, weathered wood. As you can see in the photo above, wood is the perfect medium for fine, intricate carvings and patterns, which are another central theme of this style. Mediterranean decor embraces the natural world, drawing it in rather than keeping it out. The weather in that region tends to be mild and the summers tend to be long, so gardens and atriums are common elements to homes, so houseplants can be great addition to your Mediterranean style home.

Patterns and mosaics are a timeless aspect of this decor. (Photo by Ambiance Photography)
Patterns and mosaics are a timeless aspect of this decor. (Photo by Ambiance Photography)

Really, nothing quite says “Mediterranean” like a good colorful pattern or mosaic-style tile. Damasks, arabesques, paisleys, there are literally thousands out there to choose from. They might strike you as a little bit gaudy, and they can be. Mediterranean ornamentation is not the way to go if you are striving for subtle. Much of the furniture from my family home had a lot of decoration, patterns beside patterns, so they strike me as totally normal, but to a lot of people they may be a bit much. But you can definitely strike the right balance with a little bit of thought.

Open plan rooms can be accorded some privacy with curtains. (Tommy Chambers Interiors, inc.)
Open plan rooms can be accorded some privacy with curtains. (Tommy Chambers Interiors, inc.)

Architecture can also play a big role in Mediterranean styles, shallow steps and stucco walls and arched doorways. My grandparents in the Middle East live in a house made of limestone. Of course, most of us don’t have access or inclination to such drastic changes. Smaller additions, such as wrought iron banisters or tiled floors, can look great. Draperies can be used to cover up some of your less on-trend spaces, since their flowing elegance fit in well with a Mediterranean vibe. Curtains are becoming increasingly popular as many people move to more open-plan decor, since they let you make spaces smaller and larger at will.

With the oncoming threat of winter, no doubt we’re all looking for a little taste of salt air. With Mediterranean decor, you can bring those blue skies and fair weather home to you, and look good doing it.