How to add a touch of Italy to your home

Tuscan villa against a bright blue cloudless skycredit

When one thinks of Italian interiors, a sense of timeless style, quality and perhaps opulence comes to mind. From grand interiors with richly carved furniture, luxurious fabrics, ornate mirrors, decorated tiles and lavish gold detailing – right up to the clean lines of contemporary urban design – full of space & light, designer furniture and modern artwork. Or perhaps what could be termed as classic Tuscan style says Italy to you – the faded charm of country houses and villas with all their character and romance – antique country furniture, exposed stone, wooden beams and baked terracotta.

Perhaps you’ve been inspired after a trip to the country or while scouring magazines or Pinterest – here’s how to add a touch of Italy to your home:

Tuscan villa interior with red L-shaped sofa and stone sculpturecredit

Old World Italian vs modern Italian

As we’ve mentioned, Italian interiors come in various forms from minimalist urban chic to traditional country rustic. Before you start introducing that touch of Italy to your space, decide which you prefer and which style your home suits best. Perhaps develop an eclectic look where styles are fused – sleek and luxurious with ornate additions such as a grand chandelier, ornate carved antique furniture or fine art sculpture introduced to a room. Or perhaps a grander, luxurious and lavish overall feel with touches of modernity in the form of a cutting edge designer chair or piece of modern art.

Marble kitchen island and counter-top giving a touch of Italycredit

Invest in stone

When it comes to adding a touch of Italy to your space, you can’t make a better start than investing in some good quality stone. Perhaps heavy-duty limestone floor tiles to create a clean, timeless look. Marble or marble-effect worktops are ideal in kitchens. Or incorporate stone accessories – marble chopping boards and pestle & mortars, for example. Small mosaic tiles are perfect for kitchen or bathroom splash backs. And decorative stone sculptures and pillars introduce an atmosphere of classical antiquity.

Luxe bedroom with gilt chandelier, mirrors and furniturecredit

Go ornate

If you’re going for the opulent look then the more ornate the better when it comes to creating the Italian feel in the home. Look for mirrors with intricately designed frames and carved furniture reminiscent of that you’d see in a stately home or grand villa. Opt for large rugs with elaborate designs, opulent chandeliers and decorative handles to doors & drawers.

Marble floored hallway with bright blue furniture and accessories in a Tuscan villacredit

Add some colour

When it comes to colour a neutral backdrop with striking golds, rich blues and reds work perfectly for adding a touch of grand Italy to your home – we love this combination of a bold chandelier, ornate gold mirror and the sumptuous sofa design. If you’re thinking country rustic, then it will be a palette of creams and terracotta with subtle natural tones introduced through stone, wicker and wood.

Renaissance-inspired bedroom suitecredit

Take inspiration from famous Italian periods

The Renaissance and Baroque periods are strong influences when it comes to Italian interior design. Craftsmanship is of great importance. Take inspiration from this principal and purchase the highest quality that budget will allow. When it comes to furniture and accessories, luxury and opulence is important when replicating Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Cypress trees in a Tuscan garden

Don’t forget your outdoor space

Outside is as just as important as the inside when it comes to creating a home that transports you to Italy. Structure is important with stone paths, trimmed hedges and sculpture offering a strong backdrop. Olive trees, figs, citrus plants or perhaps tall Italian cypress trees can be planted in pots at the entrance to your home or garden. These particular trees are very distinctive and classic Italy. They can thrive in the UK because they are a hardy, evergreen and drought resistant too.

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What’s your bathroom style?

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natural styled bathroom with white suite and walls and wooden floor and beams

The bathroom is such an important room in the house. It has the obvious functional side – a place to wash, dress, brush teeth and take medicines. It’s often a place of rest and relaxation too – long soaks with bubbles, candles, magazines, music and glasses of wine are a much loved pleasure for many.

So, what’s your dream style? This website if full of bathroom ideas to get you started on creating your new look.

industrial bathroom style

Vintage industrial

This bathroom style incorporates a utilitarian vibe with naked copper pipes, metal lockers & wire cages for storage. Clean, unfussy and practical, perfect for loft and factory conversions.

luxe glamour bathroom style

Luxe glamour

Lots of gold, lots of opulence – think 1940s Hollywood. Oversized cut glass chandeliers ornate rococo mirror and picture frames. Over the top swag & tail curtains. A place to indulge and linger for a while.

boho bathroom style

Boho

An eclectic style drawing on global influences… glazed Moroccan tiles, Indian hammered metal framed mirrors and colourful woven laundry baskets from Ghana. Candles, incense and keepsakes picked up on travels to faraway lands, finish the look.

minimalist bathroom style

Minimalist

Clean lines, white-washed walls, white suite, lots of invisible storage to hide away all the washing, cleaning, health and beauty accoutrements. An uncluttered space that gives room for clear thought and relaxation.

feminine bathroom style

Feminine

Feminine doesn’t just mean pink and fluffy. Display pretty perfume bottles, lotions and potions – vases of fresh, fragrant flowers perhaps. A place for pampering and indulgence.

gentleman's club bathroom style

Gentleman’s club

Less Corby trouser press more classic wooden valet stand. Unfussy, but comfortable and warm. Lots of wood, soft towels and quality toiletries.

tropical rainforest bathroom style

Tropical rainforest

A very natural and lush look. The UK may be a temperate country, but lots of tropical plants love a bathroom environment where it’s often, warm and steamy. A few we recommend are the peace lily, orchids, ferns and succulents such as echeveria, aloe vera and the jade plant. If you’re limited in your windowsill or shelf space, spider plants are perfect for hanging baskets.

retro pop bathroom style

Retro pop

A fun and vibrant space with bold and bright primary colours. Quirky, vintage accessories and comic book graphics add further interest.

Deco fabulous bathroom style

Deco fabulous

A strong, crisp design look dating back to the Art Deco movement that originally came to prominence in the 1920s era. Chrome baths, basin pedestals, towel warmers and radiators are classic pieces. Angular shower heads and bath taps maintain the flow of things.

nautical inspired bathroom style

Nautical

A nautical or coastal theme is a popular, much-loved decorating scheme for bathrooms – and not just for those that live near the beach. The seaside association with clean air, bathing and freshness being a strong draw. Shades of blue and white which reflect sea and sky work very well. Weathered paint finishes add character. Finish the look with objets trouvés that you picked up on your travels such as shells, pebbles and drift wood.

in collaboration with Homify

What’s your era?

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Eclectic sitting roomcredit

Just as it is with music and fashion, there’s no abrupt beginning and end to style in interiors at the start of a new decade. There’s always an overlapping and evolution in design and décor through the decade. The seventies is the perfect example – nature, flowers & flares in the first half of the decade, punk rock and hard-edged technology in the latter years. People don’t just throw out their furniture, pull up the carpets, paint over the wallpaper… it’s a gradual, almost imperceptible, change. Decades drift into one another other. Saying that, we’ve tried to give an essence of what each decade – the 1950s to the present day – looks like. Do you love the groovy 60s… the Scandi-inspired 90s? What’s your era?

1950s

Original 1950s sitting roomcredit

The 1950s was an exciting and creative decade with a new wave of optimism after the harsh war years. Designers could express themselves once more after rationing and glut of utilitarian products. The Mid Century Modern look was born with atomic & Sputnik styling drawing on influences from the new scientific discoveries flourishing around this era and mankind’s first ventures into space. The Festival of Britain in 1952 was a major landmark event for interiors – furniture, textiles, wallpaper and lighting all took an exciting new direction. Clean lines, bold shapes, bright colours and exciting new patterns captured the mood. Materials such as teak appeared for mass market products. Striking shades of red, yellow and blue also came to the fore.

1960s

original 1960s sitting roomcredit

The 1960s was a decade of flower power, psychedelia, peace and love. There was sexual freedom and explosion of youth culture. It was also a time of protest marches and rebellion at the established order. Space age styling really came to its peak with the space race and moon landings being a great influence. Interior designers were fascinated with the use of new processes and materials to produce exciting new versions of familiar objects – moulded plastic and inflatable chairs being perfect examples. Colour restrictions seemed to completely vanish.

1970s

original 1970s sitting roomcredit

The disco decade saw spage age influences fall away and a return to nature & self sufficiency – lots of florals, browns, beige, mossy greens and avocado – who can forget the classic coloured bathroom suites from the era! Flashes of brighter orange & yellow were used to lift these neutral schemes. There was extensive use of wood panelling, shag pile carpets, cork and hessian. Bohemian lifestyle, Biba, op art, pop art, glam rock were major influences in the first half of the decade. Later years saw the influence of punk styling and new technology – digital watches and early computer graphics, for example.

1980s

1980s study roomcredit

New wave styling continued into the 1980s. The previous decade had seen economic troubles and hardship – and these certainly continued for manufacturing industry… but the eighties is remembered as a time for new money, the city and consumerism. Home computers and mobile phones began to appear. Interiors were influenced by this rise of new technology and the fashion for power dressing perhaps. Memphis design was very influential – lots of hard edges, strong lines, zig-zags, hatching and bold colours. Stencilling, rag rolling, horizontal decorative wallpaper borders were other notable trends – and black ash furniture was everywhere! Dominant decorating shades were black, grey, pink, pastel & primary colours.

1990s

1990s IKEA interiorcredit

IKEA opened its first outlet in the UK in the late 1980s but it was in the 90s that it really began to proliferate. It’s largely responsible for this country’s ongoing love affair with Scandi cool. Its affordable flatpack furniture was a huge success – blond wood, cream & white were all the rage. It was also the era of programmes such as Changing Rooms and Home Front which really got the UK population dedicating time, money and energy to their homes… and really going DIY mad!

2000s

Vintage industrial factory conversioncredit

The clean lines and unfussy styling of the late nineties continued into this decade. The industrial styling of warehouse conversions seeped into general home décor. White and pale neutrals were the predominant colour scheme with flashes of bolder colour or pattern on feature walls.

present

Bedroom with black painted walls and brass accessoriescredit

For what will this decade be remembered? We may be biased, but we think it will be eclectic vintage – a style we love. There’s a mix of eras within one space – contemporary pieces are freely mixed with antiques. There are still strong industrial influences on home, shop and restaurant décor still, but the look has been softened somewhat. There’s a desire to make interiors individual with foraged objects, personalised homewares from indie makers and unique market finds. Dramatic dark greys are the most notable current colour scheme.

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5 Tips to cheer up your home décor

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Yellow bed and chair from MADEcredit

Your home is a place of sanctuary – a place where you can kick off your shoes and relax. When you furnish your home, you usually have a specific style in mind, but as time goes by, you can tire of the particular décor you have and feel like a change. Also, if you like your home to echo the changing of the seasons, you can adapt appropriate looks to achieve this. So, how can you cheer up your home on a regular basis without having to spend a lot of money? Here are a few thrifty tips to ensure your home remains beautiful, cheerful and comfortable.

colourful tomato sauce tin upcycled as a vase for cut flowerscredit

Make use of what’s around you

Why spend money when you can spruce up your home with nature’s gifts? During spring & summer flowers are in bloom, in autumn seed heads and berries come to the fore. They immediately add some beauty and warmth. Dot them in strategic places around your home. Need vases? Recycle jam jars and food tins instead of throwing them away. Some of them are very decorative as they are –  alternatively, cover them with colourful wrapping paper or fabric or use any leftover paint you have. This is certainly a ‘canny’ way to put colour into your home!

Flos string light

Use natural light and invest in quality lighting

Proper lighting is essential in keeping your home cheerful. During the daytime, open your curtains & blinds wide to let light pour in. This is an instant (and free!) way to eliminate gloominess and to show off the colours of your home. Once the sun goes down, your lighting system should enhance your décor without being too harsh. Investing in quality lighting is a valuable move which benefits you and your home. You want the kind of illumination that is innovative and timeless – it will enhance the space whatever your décor. These are the characteristics of Flos – you’re guaranteed cutting-edge lighting design which makes use of high-end technology, bringing outstanding results to your home. You can buy Flos products online; check out this website for a wide range of models.

Framed Madonna painting aboove a bedroom fireplacecredit

Spruce up your walls

Don’t forget the walls as they instantly draw attention. A couple of interesting key pieces will instantly make a difference. Save money by creating your own wall decorations. If you’re artistically inclined express yourself in a painting – or try wrapping patterned fabric or wallpaper around an inexpensive frame. You can even change them every few months if you wish.

Minimalist, vintage decorated sitting roomcredit

Too much can be over the top

You want your home to look cheerful, comfortable and functional; it shouldn’t mimic a flea market scene. Try to keep rooms organised and free from clutter. Store away objects that don’t need to be close at hand. Freeing a room of clutter, knick-knacks and little used objects opens up your home and gives an impression of more space. Have a look here for 50 brilliant storage ideas.

sitting room sofa with colourful cushionscredit

Make it comfortable

A cosy-looking home is an instant hit with anybody. Pile up pillows & cushions for an instant boost which also provide comfort for you and your guests. Choose ones with shades and patterns that complement the décor… subtle tone contrasts or attention-grabbing punches of colour.

[This is an editorial collaboration with Hanna Johnson]

How to bring the outside in

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modern slate-walled bathroom

Outdoor elements have a way of making us feel relaxed, refreshed and calm; so why wouldn’t we want to imitate this in our own homes? You’d be surprised at how easy it is to create a natural, calming atmosphere; and one room in particular that can often benefit from the influence of the great outdoors is the bathroom.

A space to relax and unwind after a hard day at work; ground your mood with a few of these simple steps.

The material

Instead of opting for plastic and other man-made materials, choose natural elements instead. Using substances such as cork and bamboo for flooring creates a bathroom sure to look and feel warm & inviting. Combining this with stone really maximises the outdoor to indoor theme. Try adding stone washbasins and other features such as the warm, earthy designs created by Bella Bathrooms, where they have combined grey slate effects with sandstone flooring.

Cork flooring in a bathroomimage credit

The colour

The colour of your bathroom can really make or break it. Although white is often popular for those looking to make a small bathroom feel much bigger, it can often show up any water marks and scratches much easier than colour, so can end up being quite a frustrating option to keep on top of. Be brave and venture out into using mother nature’s own colour palette. Mossy greens, duck egg blues and rich tones of mocha can create a pleasing ambiance.

modern bathroom with light wood furniture and moss green wall

Decoration

Referring back to the colour scheme, continue the theme of nature by bringing elements of the outside in. Putting stones and sand into vases and adding greenery such as ferns or bamboo is a popular way to bring a little Zen into your space. As the bathroom can be a damp and humid room, ensure to research the best plants that will suit the bathroom so that you can feel inspired. If you don’t have the room for flowers or plants why not try hanging pictures of them up on your bathroom walls instead? There are many ways to accessorise your bathroom with a nod to nature, even if you’re limited for space.

modern split-level bathroom with wooden flooring and walls

The extras

It’s the little things that count. Making sure you have natural light in your bathroom is another great way of making it feel much more fresh and spacious; sunshine bouncing off the walls makes it look much more inviting too. Let’s not forget candles and incense; ignite all of your senses with accessories that you can touch, see and smell to bring a relaxed feel to the room.

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Home entertainment rooms: bring a vintage cinema vibe to your home!

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luxe home cinema roomimage credit
Do you love cinema? Are you getting a little tired of watching your favourite movies in a cold and boring sitting room, on a laptop or worse, God forbid, a mobile phone screen? Do you happen to have a spare room or are you living with someone who doesn’t mind you transforming the living room?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, you’re in luck: we’ve come up with ideas for the ultimate home entertainment room. Here are a few tips on how to bring that fun and classic vintage cinema vibe into your home.

Elite home cinema seats from Reclinersdirect

Furniture

It wouldn’t really be a vintage-themed home entertainment room without a set of black or red leather recliner chairs. They’re stylish and retro without having to compromise on comfort.

If your budget is tight, why not transform that set of old sitting room chairs you scored from a charity shop or car boot sale into glorious & unique red velvet cinema chairs?

There are plenty of upholstery tutorials on the web, most of them are easier than you think, and you’ll be able to source all the fabric and materials online or from many DIY shops.

vintage film posters on a wall going up stairs to a home cinemaimage credit

On the walls

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to keep the walls on the dark side so they don’t catch the screen’s light. Black-out curtains at the windows & doors are also something to consider to prevent light from filtering through. To mix it up a little, hang your favourite vintage film posters on the walls: use large black wooden frames for a sleek & chic look.

minimalist red & white home cinema roomimage credit

Hide away that tech: screen & audio system

There are some good options to prevent bulky, often ugly, home cinema equipment from ruining the look & atmosphere of the room. In terms of screens, why not opt for a home cinema projector?

Easily connected to a laptop (unless you choose to go for an old school, auto-load projector of course!), it takes up the minimum of space and can be easily hung from the ceiling, out of the way.

Be aware however, that some parts such as the bulb will need to be replaced from time to time and it’s likely to cost a little bit more than what you pay initially. If you’re buying second-hand, it’s always good to ask the vendor if it’s recently been changed.

As for the audio system, if you’re on a budget, vintage can often be good in terms of sound quality and value for money. You can source quality, second-hand equipment on the web, at auction and from charity shops.

If you’ve already invested in new equipment, it’s going to take a little bit more effort and clever hacking to camouflage depending on your setup. Why not have the audio assembled on a trolley that can quickly be rolled out from inside an easily accessible cupboard prior to a screening?

vintage home cinema with vintage seats, popcorn maker and snack trolleyimage credit

Final touches

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same pretty much goes for a vintage cinema-themed home entertainment room… but that’s most of the fun!

Depending on your budget and your charity shops and flea market finds, you can keep adding to the room with a few extra touches that will give the room a lot more character: popcorn maker, vintage lighting and furniture, classic movie memorabilia…

Enjoy the show!

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