How to Give Your Home Some Italian Flair

By Kate Watson-Smyth, Houzz

Who doesn't love the Italians? So cool, so well dressed, so much dolce vita. Their homes are no different. They too appear effortlessly stylish and individual. But look closely and you'll see that there are certain rules that Italian homes usually follow. Just about every Italian home focuses on food, family and fun. Here's how you can bring a little of la bella figura to your house, too.

Ghirardelli Architetti, original photo on Houzz
Ghirardelli Architetti, original photo on Houzz

1. Ample seating for dinner. If the family is the most important part of an Italian's life, then the home must include a dining table big enough for everyone to gather round.

It can be a folding or collapsible table, too. The main thing is to offer hospitality and a space where people can share a meal together. Many Italian homes also have a stash of folding chairs.

2. Well-lit meals. Italians like to have the overhead light on at meals. This way they can always see what they are eating and who they are talking to — an integral part of the joy of sharing a meal. For this reason many country restaurants also have bold overhead lighting in contrast to the dim, romantic settings many people are more used to.

Anthony Baratta LLC, original photo on Houzz
Anthony Baratta LLC, original photo on Houzz

3. Color. Red, yellow and blue are colors that often run strongly through the Italian palette. These colors were also adopted by the Memphis Group — a group of Milan-based designers with a postmodernist aesthetic led by Ettore Sottsass in the 1980s. They mixed wood and metal, Perspex and vinyl, and strong colors — turquoise, red and yellow — with black and silver edging.

4. Curves. It's no secret that Ferrari regularly uses descriptive terms relating to women when naming cars ("testarossa" means "redhead"), and the Italians also love a curvy shape when it comes to their furniture.

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz
Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz

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The white curvy furniture around this pool appears modern and comfortable at the same time.

5. Bare windows. Italians don't usually go for heavy curtains, often leaving the window completely bare or with a light muslin curtain to soften the effect. Many buildings have shutters that can be closed to keep the heat out.

Architect Diego Bortolato, original photo on Houzz
Architect Diego Bortolato, original photo on Houzz

6. A mix of designer and antique accessories. Just as an Italian woman might wear a designer scarf or pair of shoes with an old pair of jeans and a simple shirt (and look fabulous), so Italians might have just one perfect designer piece in a room, which stands next to an old piece that may have belonged to La Nonna. I love how the vintage-style chandelier and classic wood rocking chair here add warmth to this contemporary Italian space.

7. Tiled floors. Most Italians don't really go for carpet, preferring to have tiles instead, since they're cooler in the heat and easy to clean. Italians love to be ready to welcome an unexpected guest.

Architect Diego Bortolato, original photo on Houzz
Architect Diego Bortolato, original photo on Houzz

8. Natural materials. Marble has long been a popular choice in kitchens, and this white marble comes from Carrara in Tuscany. Madonna has apparently used it in several of her kitchens.

9. A central kitchen. There may not always be space for eating in everyone's kitchen, but it doesn't matter how large or small a kitchen is — it is the most important room in the house, and its decorating choices are made with care. Quality is super important. Buying the best you can afford will just about always apply in an Italian kitchen.

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz
Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz

10. Fun. Italy is a joyful, playful nation, and Italians bring that into their homes. This image sums up that idea. An elegant, all-white hallway gets a sense of joy and fun from the splash of bright turquoise inside each pendant shade.

Try to do the same thing in your own home: Enjoy it.

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