Mediterranean Decor Style Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Mediterranean Decor Style Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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Mediterranean decor originates from countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, and others surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It features simple, romantic aesthetics with natural materials and warm, light tones, and it's one of the most iconic interior design styles.

"Calling to a faraway place of open spaces with a fluid indoor/outdoor lifestyle, Mediterranean decor has a gorgeous way of bringing what many associate with a vacation into your everyday life," says roomLift co-founder and COO Megan Hersch.

Mediterranean style is a favorite with interior designers and real estate agents alike, and you'll see it in custom homes throughout Los Angeles. But it's also easy to bring into almost any space, with flexible home design motifs that you can customize as needed.

This guide explores the key elements of Mediterranean decor, including color palettes and how to get this style in your home. Keep reading to learn how to create a staycation-ready style in any space.

Meet the Experts

At Living Cozy, we love working with interior designers and industry leaders to bring you the best possible information on all things home decor. In this article, you'll find tips and advice from the following experts:

What is Mediterranean Style?

Mediterranean living room
Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Designed by Megan Hersch (Photo Credit: Ollie Paterson)

"Mediterranean decor should be light and casual, sun-drenched and fresh," explains Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos. "When you think of coastal villages in Spain, France, Italy, and Northern Africa, you think of white stucco, the azure of the sea, terra cotta, and richly hued glazed ceramics. Mediterranean decor should never be heavy or fussy, and it should always feel like a breath of fresh air."

This beautiful living room showcases the bright and airy ideal of Mediterranean style, featuring several of the following common elements:

  • Patterned tile accents and floors
  • Neutral colors
  • Terracotta stonework
  • Exposed wood beams
  • Light, earthy color schemes
  • Lots of natural light
  • Graceful archways
  • White stucco walls
  • Easy view of outdoor spaces
  • Iron, ceramic, wood, and other natural materials

"Mediterranean decor is usually simple and romantic, "Ben Hyman told Living Cozy. "It's characterized by light and warm colors usually found in nature, such as terracotta, chestnut, cerulean, azure, and seafoam green. While pieces are simple, many times they're bold in design."

"Mediterranean decor is usually simple and romantic. It's characterized by light and warm colors usually found in nature, such as terracotta, chestnut, cerulean, azure, and seafoam green."

Dramatic yet straightforward pieces are another staple of the Mediterranean style. For example, you might see romantic Spanish and Tuscan-style chandeliers in the kitchen or Spanish-style wrought iron banisters in the entryway.

Key Elements of a Mediterranean Room

No matter where you live, try incorporating as many critical elements of Mediterranean decor in your space to help capture the look. And since Mediterranean interior design draws inspiration from a wide range of countries and styles, you can almost always find a look that works for your tastes. Ready for some gorgeous design ideas?

Blending of Indoor and Outdoor

Mediterranean Room

"Mediterranean homes seamlessly blend the interior and the exterior," Tina Delia explains. "It's all about being part of nature, taking advantage of the warmth of the sun and the crisp air."

The more you can blend indoor and outdoor elements in your space, the better your Mediterranean decor will shine through. Many Mediterranean-style homes feature large, open windows and archways that seamlessly incorporate outdoor spaces, looking out over scenic gardens and vistas.

Notice how this space uses a nature-inspired colorway with natural materials and eye-catching foliage to create an outdoorsy aesthetic. In addition, the large windows let in bright light, making the space appear larger and more inviting.

If you have a yard to work with, give it a makeover and incorporate indoor Mediterranean details like stone floors and tall archways outdoors. Create inviting nooks and comfy seating areas to complete the look.

Simplicity

Mediterranean decor

Mediterranean decor often incorporates a minimalist-style sense of simplicity, similar to what you might see in a beautiful resort hotel room. Simple and sturdy furniture, bare windows, and neutral color palettes keep each space looking open, airy, and spacious. This doesn't mean your home will be boring, though — many modern Mediterranean decorating ideas use mosaic tile patterns to add visual interest to otherwise bare tile floors.

This seating area features a neutral colorway with white stucco walls, abstract artwork, sweeping archways, and a large, unobscured window. The textures and materials are natural, the accents are understated, and the walls are mostly unadorned.

"Simplicity means nothing extra," Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos told Living Cozy. "The necessities of beauty, convenience, and comfort should be all around you, but nothing extra. Natural fiber textiles like linen blend well into the Mediterranean aesthetic, and the textures and tones of large handcrafted terra cotta vessels add visual interest and scale."

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Bold Patterned Tile

Mediterranean style bathroom
Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Designed by Megan Hersch (Photo Credit: Ollie Paterson)

"Patterned tile is typical of Mediterranean style. You will find hand-painted terra cotta or cement tiles in almost every Mediterranean home," said Tina Delia. "Not only for the aesthetic but because these tiles stay cool to the touch for this warm climate. Styles range from Italian line drawing to more intricate Moorish style designs. These tiles are used throughout the home to add color and pattern."

You'll be hard-pressed to find a Mediterranean-style home without patterned tile on the floors, walls, stairs, or other accents. You can use different patterns throughout the space, creating eye-catching variety. For example, your entryway floor might feature a Spanish-style mosaic theme, while your bathroom features traditional Moroccan-style tile accents.

This bathroom features tile on every visible surface except the ceiling, demonstrating a wide variety in just one space. In addition, the tile varies in color, style, and texture, creating visual depth and interest.

Natural Textures

Mediterranean bedroom

Mediterranean decor is intrinsically linked with nature, so include as many natural textures as possible in your style. "Bring wood or natural materials into the space to make the inside feel like you're looking out over the Aegean Sea," recommended Ben Hyman.

"The natural grain and texture of wood is a beautiful counterpoint to the crispness of the stucco. Beautifully hand-carved wood details are also often found in Mediterranean decor, whether through furnishings or architectural details like doors and exposed beams," said Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos.

This space is an excellent example of how you can use your furniture and decor to add natural textures to your room, even if you can't do a remodel any time soon. Adding plants to your home is another excellent way to add texture to any room.

Layered Elements

In interior design, layering refers to more than layers of fabric and other textiles. It's an approach that you can use with any decor elements, and it's essential in Mediterranean spaces. The easiest way to apply layering to collections is by placing the tallest accents in the back and the smaller pieces in front.

"Layering multiple elements and collections is characteristic of Mediterranean style," explained Megan Hersch. "For example, a collection of pottery clustered on a shelf or in a corner. Brass elements are also very inherent in the Mediterranean decor — light fixtures, mirror work, and metal tables with intricate patterns are typically seen in collections and clusters throughout the spaces."

What's the Mediterranean Color Palette?

Mediterranean decor features a wide range of color palette options, and most of them pull inspiration from nature. "The color palette has some variation often showcasing the crisp whites of the hot, beachy climate accented by deep, rich colors of the cultures surrounding – blues, reds, oranges, and yellows," Megan Hersch told Living Cozy.

Before you choose a color palette, it can help to decide if there's a particular style or region that you'd like to showcase in your Mediterranean decor. For example, if you opt for a Moroccan theme, you might opt for warmer, earthier tones. "Color palettes range from warm and earthy to blue and white crisp," explained Tina Delia. "The Greek Isles show crisp white plaster walls with pops of blue. Italian homes will be warmer with richer wood tones and a creamy base for walls."

  • Earthy tones: Terracotta, ochre, chestnut, burnt umber, oxblood, moss green, and olive green.
  • Sky and water tones: Azure blue, seafoam green, dark purple, lavender, sun yellow, and gold.
  • Natural tones: Stucco, stone, linen, and wood.

"When thinking Mediterranean, a foundation of beautiful neutrals is a natural starting point," said Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos. "Begin by creating an environment inspired by 'colors' of stucco, stone, earth, linen, and wood. Then to add interest, choose colors like terra cotta, oxblood, and the aqua of the sea. Finally, to add a bit more contrast, bring in a little gold to mimic the glint of sunset on the water and moss green to recall the low lying shrubbery of a natural Mediterranean landscape."

How to Get Started with Mediterranean Decor

Mediterranean decor kitchen

Interior designers will approach Mediterranean decor from different angles, as you'll see in the recommendations below. After that, it's up to you to decide what'll work best for your space, whether that means using all three tactics or choosing just one.

Start with the Foundation

"To design a Mediterranean room, I'd start with white walls and a few colorful accents such as cerulean throw pillows or a seafoam green blanket," said Ben Hyman. "Add texture and bold elements such as a large coffee table or an oversized chair with a unique architectural design."

Start with a Feeling

"That feeling you have when you open a window, let the sun fall on your face, and feel the breeze on your skin is where you should begin," explained Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos. "Close your eyes, find that feeling, and then start imagining the space you are standing in before opening your eyes. When the design of the space evokes that feeling, when the space in your head causes you to exhale and relax, you have just started down the road of creating a Mediterranean style room."

Start with Collections

"Collect collections — do you love baskets or pottery? Collect and group five or more of something similar. The trick is not to line them up in a row but rather to create a cluster of pots in a corner, as seen in the Dining Room in Rancho Valencia's resort collection. Or if you can find a pierced metal clustered Light Fixture that can transform your space immediately," said Megan Hersch of Rancho Valencia's resort (pictured above).

Written by
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.
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