Beyond the Sea

Began in countries north of the Mediterranean Sea (Spain, Greece, Morocco and Italy), Mediterranean interior design embraces the grandeur and rich history of these areas to create luxurious, yet cozy, living spaces.

By Moe Godat 

Designer: Julie Rootes Interiors

Photographer: Paul Dyer



Different Influences: Because Mediterranean design finds inspiration from several different countries and cultures, the styling depends on each person’s individual tastes; while there are many variations of Mediterranean design, all are marked by a warm and timeless feel. Bright, striking blues mostly originate from Greece, Moroccan influences show off an abundance of texture and wood carvings and tilework and terracotta come from Spain. Each country brings its own flair, combining to create fingerprint ideas of Mediterranean design.

Old World Feel: Mediterranean design relies heavily on historical influences, one of which is a tactile approach to create warm and cozy spaces. Bringing in antique, lived-in pieces lend a used yet high-end touch. Beyond buying previously loved furniture, you can create an aged look in the space with weathered woods, stonework and layered paints and glazes.

Ornamentation: This design style doesn’t shy away from maximalism. Embrace embroidered fabrics, elaborately carved wood furniture and intricate metalwork. Look up into antique, highly adorned light fixtures. For a softer edge, layering pillows, rugs and throws gives a home an abundance of extra warmth.

Mediterranean Colors: Your chosen color palette should mimic the sea and sky while incorporating warm terracotta and yellow tones. Natural light should stream in to allow a connection with the surrounding nature (even if your surroundings don’t necessarily mimic that of a Mediterranean beach house). It’s common to start with a warm neutral and using warm wood tones for your furniture and statement pieces. Appropriate accent colors echo the sea and sky, such as light blues, deep purples and foamy greens.

Terracotta and Stone: Stonework and terracotta give an old, rich feel to any Mediterranean space; both are easy to keep clean and boast a long-lasting quality paramount to the overall historic style. The multitudes of colors and textures to choose from create depth.

Importance of Pattern: Patterns appear in many places in this design, but it’s known best for its patterned tiles. To enhance your Mediterranean design influence, add patterned tile on your floors, backsplashes, walls and stair risers for added pops of color and texture. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and patterns for an extra punch of variety!

Inner Architecture: Often an interior’s architecture can greatly influence the design, and the same is true for this design style. Many Mediterranean homes (both by the Mediterranean sea and far away from it) embrace the rich historical architecture of ancient Greece with imposing columns and delicate arches. Exposed wood beams are another way to infuse Mediterranean design into your home; they instantly add overhead warmth and a cozy aesthetic.

Wooden Furniture: Using wooden furniture in your design can range from functional to formal, from weathered to elaborately carved. When choosing the correct wood furniture for your home, think first about how the piece will work for your family. Often furniture in this design style is short with ornate legs. When choosing hardware, look for heavily burnished or wrought-iron finishes.