How to add a touch of Continental charm to your home

Mad for the Med! Add a touch of Continental charm to your home with natural materials and sunny colours

Bringing a fresh, Mediterranean feel into your home doesn’t mean a cliched scheme of shells, coastal paintings and seaside blues and whites.

Far from it. But, at the same time, summer is the ideal time to tap into European interiors with their natural materials, soft pastels and the sun-bleached hues of terracotta.

‘It’s not about slavishly recreating a Mediterranean home,’ says Italian-born interior designer Roby Baldan (robybaldan interiors.com). 

Southern comfort: A kitchen with Bert & May’s Sage Sprout handmade tiles on the floor

Southern comfort: A kitchen with Bert & May’s Sage Sprout handmade tiles on the floor

‘It’s more to do with channelling the joyful sense of warmth and the slower pace of life that you breathe in that part of the world.

‘Think about adding pieces that welcome you to recline and take the day a bit more slowly. A chaise longue or daybed upholstered in a relaxed fabric, for example, or a Berber rug, which injects tactility and ease.’

Here’s how to channel sunnier climes year-round.

Go modern

To keep the look up-to-date, avoid busy schemes, but instead contrast colour splashes with more subtle pieces. Think along the lines of a collection of ceramic plates on a white wall — check out the Matisse-inspired plates at LRNCE Studio (lrnce.com) — or a cane chair sitting on a striped rug.

‘Mediterranean schemes feel fresh and easy on the eye,’ says designer Belen White Campos (studiobeleta.com), known for her softly European schemes. ‘They are never heavy, but gently incorporate colours such as yellows, blues, greens and terracottas.’

Adapt the trend to suit the milder British climate, so instead of a traditional tiled floor, go for flat-weave geometric rugs. Try Anthropologie’s blue and white hand-tufted Burke rug, £299 (anthropologie.com), or Oliver Bonas’s Rendezvous reversible yellow geometric indoor/outdoor rug, £69.50 (oliverbonas.com).

Loosen up

The key to this relaxed, southern European look is the idea of craftsmanship.

‘Right now, there is a general return to craft and an appreciation of artisans and the process of making,’ says Roby. ‘At the heart of the Mediterranean look lies a respect for the handmade.’

So introducing woven baskets, rustic textiles, pottery, handmade rugs and imperfect painted ceramics is a good way to bring the Med into your home.

Roby suggests looking to Atelier Vime (ateliervime.com), which specialises in locally-made wicker with a modern aesthetic, or timeless rattan furniture pieces by Soane Britain (soane.co.uk).

Consider using natural materials too for hard finishes such as kitchen counters and shower enclosures, for a softer, more relaxed look.

‘Try a terrazzo kitchen worktop, or use a tadelakt (Moroccan plaster) finish in the bathroom,’ says Roby. ‘Decorative microcement works just as well in a bathroom, but has the same visual effect.’

Another option is to choose a traditional design in an unexpected finish, such as terracotta tiles in the hallway laid in a herringbone format, or bold geometrics used as a feature wall — look at the selection of European style handmade tiles at Bert & May (bertandmay.com).

Have fun with fruit

Fruit motifs are a playful way to work this trend — try The Sette’s Lemon tablecloth, inspired by Italian summers (thesette.com).

‘Dress your table in terracotta hues combined with the warm yellow tones of the sun,’ says founders Sophie Lamotte and Cloe Bueso. ‘Using bold fruit and vegetable prints in your tableware and home accessories also bring the decorative feel of the Italian market culture to your home.’

Bring nature’s offerings indoors with overscaled foliage and indoor trees planted in wicker baskets.

‘Think about using elements of the outdoor world to elevate your space,’ says sofa.com’s Patricia Gibbons. ‘Long grasses and weathered woods have wonderful colours and textures. Use glass bottles as vases and netting to hold your hanging plants.’

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