Mediterranean Architecture and Design - Let's Explore and Escape

Mediterranean Architecture and Design - Let's Explore and Escape

Decoration and Design
Additions and Remodels
Small Projects and Repairs
By Mateos Glen Hayes August 05, 2021

Many of us would love a sunny summer vacation on a Mediterranean coastline in Spain, Sicily, or Sardinia. Alas, the summer holidays always take time and a hefty investment to realize, so in the meantime, why not bring the flair of the Mediterranean to your home? That may seem like a tall order, but it is quite simple. The basic elements that make up this beloved, cool, clean, and fun design style are not difficult to reproduce, even if you live somewhere that’s decidedly not Mediterranean (say, upstate New York). 

Because it encompasses so many diverse nations and vibrant cultures, the Mediterranean design has a lot of variety to offer. While it is a variation of the coastal design style, the Mediterranean style is one of the most fun to play around with. Plus, it is a very accessible aesthetic, because it can be achieved with just a few affordable tweaks to your home’s interior design. 

The Roots of Mediterranean Design

When you think “Mediterranean”, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are probably the first countries that come to mind. And indeed, these Southern European countries have long been famous for their unique Mediterranean interior designs and architecture. The aesthetic of this region is emulated by modern Mediterranean homes the world over. However, it should be said that there are many more countries that make up the mosaic of Mediterranean design than just those of Southern Europe.

The Many Places Mediterranean Design Was Born

The Many Places Mediterranean Design Was Born

There are 21 countries, all of which represent a huge range of different cultures and aesthetics. So,  “Mediterranean design” can just as easily come from Morocco, Lebanon, or even Slovenia. At first glance, it may be easy to say that many of these design traditions are “the same”, after all they belong to the same region and it's common to find the same motifs across the style’s variations. But they also all have some key nuances that differentiate them. For example, Mediterranean designs tend to rely on more subdued natural textures and hues for the walls, whereas Moroccan interiors paint the walls in solid vibrant colors, which can range from a natural beige to a bright orange or vibrant blue.

Rise to Fame 

The French Riviera aesthetic played a significant role in giving the Mediterranean style global popularity. This was a glamorous take on Mediterranean design with luxurious vintage furnishings, intricate trim work and accenting, and distinctive features such as rattan sun-shaped mirrors. The elements of the French Riviera style have since gone on to be adopted by other strains of Mediterranean style, and have therefore become universal features of the interior design. 

The French Riviera and Other Variations in Mediterranean Style

The French Riviera and Other Variations in Mediterranean Style

The Old and the New 

The versatile nature of the Mediterranean style means that it can be a veritable crossroads of the modern and the old-school. A Mediterranean house is a perfect canvas for a combination of clean minimalist lines, and more vintage features such as natural stone walls and exposed wood beams. Modern Mediterranean interior design tends to focus on larger rooms and large windows that maximize natural light. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to add antique touches that connect the modern with history. 

Mediterranean America

The sunny seaside roots of the Mediterranean style mean that it has found a spiritual home in warm coastal states such as California and Florida. However, the style is popular nationwide and is featured in major cities far from the eastern or western seaboards. As with so many trends from across the pond, Mediterranean interior design has taken on its distinct flavor in the United States. 

Many “Mediterranean style” buildings in America wouldn’t be considered as such by those who come from one of the Mediterranean countries. Nevertheless, the style has kept some key elements that keep true to its Southern European, Middle Eastern, and North African roots. 

Why the Mediterranean Aesthetic Traveled So Far Is Self-Explanatory

Why the Mediterranean Aesthetic Traveled So Far Is Self-Explanatory

How to Recognize Mediterranean Design 

The light and airy Mediterranean design style has some trademark features that make it pretty easy to spot. 

Seamless Indoor-Outdoor Transitions 

Mediterranean houses are designed for easy coastal living, so it’s no surprise that they are designed to make indoor-outdoor living as seamless as possible. Outdoor spaces tend to be prominent features in Mediterranean design. Outdoor spaces such as porches or patios are typically large and easily accessible from living spaces like lounges and sitting areas thanks to large sliding glass doors. 

Seamless Transitions Between Indoor and Outdoor Living a Staple in Mediterranean Homes

Seamless Transitions Between Indoor and Outdoor Living a Staple in Mediterranean Homes

Modern Mediterranean design goes even further to blur the lines between the interior and the exterior. In warm coastal areas, consistently good weather allows for indoor space to be opened seamlessly into outdoor areas. These outdoor areas can be designed to mirror the interior design for an added effect of continuity. Modern Mediterranean homes often incorporate luxurious features such as swimming pools into large outdoor areas. For coastal Mediterranean homes, the outdoor space can be designed to lead to the beach uninterrupted, so that the warm coastal waters are just a few feet away from your living room.  

The Breezy Shifts In Mediterranean Design and Function

The Breezy Shifts In Mediterranean Design and Function

Natural Textures 

Natural materials make up a big piece of the Mediterranean interior design aesthetic. It’s common to see natural stone walls, exposed wood beams, and ceramic tile floors. Hardwood is another popular flooring choice, especially for Mediterranean-style living rooms. Furnishings in a Mediterranean-style home often feature wood, terracotta, ceramics, linen, wrought iron, and rattan as decorative materials.  

Arches, Natural Materials, and Pampas Grass Perfect for the Mediterranean Look

Arches, Natural Materials, and Pampas Grass Perfect for the Mediterranean Look

Neutral Colors, Natural Hues

The color palette of a Mediterranean home is meant to echo the natural colors of the coastline. These colors tend to be lighter, and include many light blues, greens, and yellows which reflect the ocean and rays of the sun. This set of hues are typically accentuated by allowing plenty of natural light to permeate the space. What you end up with is a space that gives off a hint of clean minimalism but adds some seaside flair.  

A Subdued but Inviting Color Palette for Mediterranean Interior Design

A Subdued but Inviting Color Palette for Mediterranean Interior Design

How to Bring Mediterranean Design Into Your Home

You’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to build a whole new house to achieve the Mediterranean look in your home. 

Increase Natural Light, Add Lighter Colors

One small project that will set you on course for a Mediterranean aesthetic is a change of color palette. The key is to lighten things up with some mild colors that subtly echo nature. To achieve the full coastal look means going with light blues, light greens, and light yellows. Greys, creams, and whites can also be incorporated as accent colors. To help these colors work their magic you’ll need to increase the amount of natural light inside your home. A skylight can do this quite nicely but barring that there are tons of window options to choose from. 

Reflecting the Colors of the Seaside in Your Home

Reflecting the Colors of the Seaside in Your Home

Natural Texturing 

A Mediterranean-style home would be lost without its rich, textured layers of natural materials. So if you want the true Mediterranean experience for your home, you’re gonna have to do some texturing. This helps add warmth, coziness, and character to the space, making it feel welcoming to guests and residents alike. To achieve a textured space, each room should be a composition of various layers of natural materials in the form of furnishings, flooring, carpeting, countertop choice, wall finishes, accenting, etc.

Layering Textures with Materials and Colors

Layering Textures with Materials and Colors

Which furniture you choose depends on which strand of Mediterranean design you want to aim for. Lovers of the French Riviera style will prefer luxurious vintage pieces made of wood and wrought iron and finished in linen upholstery. Those who want a more rustic look should look for anything made of wicker, rope, straw, or rattan. Hardwood flooring is another wooden addition you can make, though modern Mediterranean homes can feature a variety of flooring finishes such as stone, bamboo, or even cement. 

Neutral Tones, Whicker, and More Layering for a Dreamy Mediterranean Bedroom

Neutral Tones, Whicker, and More Layering for a Dreamy Mediterranean Bedroom

You can also go the extra mile and crown all this texturing with some faux exposed wooden beams. White plaster is a classic addition for walls as this helps reflect light and make the space feel airier. This can be further accented with mosaic ceramic tiles to add another dimension to the aesthetic. For Mediterranean home decor, look for rustic handmade objects such as bowls, vases, baskets, and ceramics. This can be displayed on coffee tables or even on open shelving.  

Small Projects You Can Implement to Switch to a Mediterranean Vibe

Small Projects You Can Implement to Switch to a Mediterranean Vibe

Declutter 

Mediterranean interior design is a great example of the mantra “less is more”, so you’ll wanna minimize clutter in your house as part of your Mediterranean-style conversion. To do this, you must eliminate any items that are not essential, and only keep those things that aren’t superfluous. This can be somewhat difficult to figure out sometimes, but as a general rule, assume that anything in your house that is rarely or ever used is non-essential and should be stored, sold, or given away.  

Mediterranean Design Takes 'Less Is More' Quite Seriously

Mediterranean Design Takes 'Less Is More' Quite Seriously

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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