Updated: Jan 2
With the power outages and clean-up from Hurricane Irma, I think now is a great time for me to step away from the blog for a week or two and turn it over to guest blogger Elizabeth London, a colleague and a friend. Elizabeth happens to be living in Italy right now for a temporary contract her husband earned through his company, and she’s making the most of it by blogging part-time while raising a toddler. You can find her contributions at www.FabMood.com, www.EverydayTribal.com, and her own personal tales at www.ABellyAbroad.Wordpress.com. Without further adieu, I’m handing her the mic and getting back to the pile of paperwork on my desk! -Heather
Ciao from Milan! My name is Elizabeth London, and I’m thrilled to be able to take over Heather’s blog for a week or two to not only give her a little slack in her to-do list, but also to dive into her world of home decor and interior design ideas. Living in Italy for the past year and a half has opened my eyes to a whole new world of style and design. So even though I’m no design expert, today I thought I would simply share a few of my photos from around northern Italy that might be able to inspire some of you to add some Tuscan touches to your home decor style!
It’s been my experience that time in Italy is significantly slower than in America. My husband tells me that even at work, his colleagues will come to a 10:00am meeting in his office, only to say “But first, coffee” and dart back out the door to enjoy (slowly) an espresso and a chat with colleagues. The meeting will resume 30 minutes later. Lunch breaks might last 2 hours and after work, many folks will take a leisurely stroll around town, stopping to window shop or just sit on a bench and watch life pass by. After all, dinner doesn’t start until 9pm!
“Contemporary” might refer to anything from 1700 to present, whereas I’m used to thinking of things before 1950 as antique! Houses have been in some families since midieval times. And some of the furnishings and decor might be just as old! So it doesn’t surprise me that Old World design aesthetic reflects Italy’s cherished antiquity.
In fact, Italians might just be the original experts at mixing the old and new, vintage and modern, and classic with eclectic. An article from The Study has the absolute most perfect description of Italian design style:
“Italian design — like the country’s history — is marked by a regionalism that breeds eclecticism, diversity and an artistic sentiment that favors experimentation. “
Here are a few concepts that I’ve observed personally:
Italian homes feature a lot of woodwork.
Photo by Lisa Gabrielson Design
Exposed wood beams are commonplace. Even the hotel I stayed in before we found our apartment had gorgeous wood beam ceilings:
Wood furniture is pretty standard, especially considering most of the furniture pieces are antiques passed down through the family for generations.
Photo by Timeless Kitchen Cabinetry
Everything has a history – from family keepsakes, mementos, to fun little trinkets tucked in every corner.
Photo by Geraldine James via The Times Magazine.
Photo by Coronado Stone Products
Photo by Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors
If you’re charmed by the Old World aesthetic but aren’t blessed with high ceilings or stone walls, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways you can mix and match rustic and modern interior elements to invite the warmth of a Tuscan villa into your own home. Maybe it’s a distressed wood lamp or a simple porcelain bowl of fruit (there’s ALWAYS fresh fruit in an Italian home!), and maybe even a simple worn crochet blanket that reminds you of your own nonna., I’ve picked over Heathertique’s shop to round up some items that would definitely do the trick:
A collection of items from Heathertique that would fit in beautifully in a rustic Italian home
Rustic aged mirror with gold bird details
Nothing fancy about this classic fruit bowl, which is exactly why it’s so “Italian” – we go to the produce market three times a week and there’s never a home without a bowl of fruit in the kitchen!
This Farfalla (Italian for butterfly) vintage vase comes straight from Italy and is perfect for filling with flowers in your kitchenette. Italians take flower-arranging to a new level, wit gorgeous bouquets donning their tables any day of the week! I love coming home from the market with fresh flowers wrapped in brown paper for my table!
This set of huge hurricane candle holders would look perfect on a giant family-style buffet dining table! Italians LOVE a giant light feature, from lanterns to candles!
And if that’s not enough inspiration to transform your home into a Tuscan style villa, then there’s always a vintage 1920s Italian accordion that could happily sit in the corner of your living room, bringing with it memories of the woman who plays for tips under the arches of the Teatro Grande every Saturday! In fact, this accordion might just have a home in my future when we move back to America!
Ciao for now!