Your address may be in the suburbs but your soul is in the Mediterranean, luxuriating in the wash of clear light and the shifting, wine-dark seas. Even if you won't make it to Santorini until the kids are grown, you can live in a Mediterranean idyll with decor colors from the coasts of Greece, Morocco, France, Italy, Spain, Monaco and Turkey. Mediterranean decor encompasses both vivid and pastel hues that work in every room in your house.
1. Cote d'Azur Salon
You can't have too much blue and green when you're capturing the Mediterranean in your home. The deep blue-green of the French Riviera is both invigorating and restful on living room walls. Choose a shade from azure to turquoise, balance it with cream or vanilla ceiling and trim, and consider limestone tile or polished hardwood floors to bounce even more light around the room. Wrought-iron daybeds with washable, unbleached canvas or linen upholstery can handle a collection of blue-patterned throw pillows with Mediterranean motifs, nautical touches and Greek keystone designs. Hand-blown teal and green glass lamp bases in the shape of fat wine decanters keep it light with plain linen shades. Hunt for a hand-knotted Turkish patchwork area rug, made from scraps of antique carpet dyed in varied shades of aqua, turquoise and blue.
2. Dining a l'Orange
Light terra-cotta paint on dining room walls creates a warm, welcoming center for family get-togethers and the evening meal. The honeyed tones of a desaturated orange might belong in an Italian villa or a Spanish seaside mansion, influenced by equal measures of Malagan and Tuscan decor. Colorwashing the walls creates the impression of texture without the work of plastering. Spanish or Moorish cotto floor tiles extend the well-worn terra-cotta look, and dining chairs with woven seats look equally at home around a light wood or glass-topped table. A wrought-iron chandelier centered over the table might hold real candles for romantic gatherings but should have a dimmer if wired for lightbulbs. Pale beach sand, rather than stark white trim, blends into the softer ambiance of this room. An antique tapestry won't overwhelm the muted hues in the decor.
3. Blue and Stucco Bathroom
Turn the bath into a Grecian odyssey with rough-textured white stucco walls, faux marble or sealed limestone floor tiles and Aegean-blue paint on the outside of the clawfoot tub. If the tub is unalterable white porcelain, evoke the Cyclades with blue-and-white striped towels and a simple ocean-blue, wipe-down Roman shade. A distressed and slightly faded blue wood frame around the bathroom mirror and an opaque white pendant lamp keep the look clean. Paint cabinets to match the mirror frame, or strip them down to bare wood, lightly whitewash and protect with clear matte lacquer.
4. Hot Nights
A master bedroom should be more than a dumping ground for the unsorted laundry. Mix a little casbah, earthy clay and ruby bling on your walls for a rich, red Moroccan retreat. Use matte paint to imitate the dull finish of stucco. A floor or a carpet of patterned tiles adds an exotic note and hides evidence of messy kids and pets. Look for repetitive geometric shapes in contrasting or complementary colors; bright blue, yellow-orange and black are vivid against dusky red walls. If you opt for tile floors, warm them in winter with bedside, hand-woven Moroccan kilims. Dress the bed in crisp white linens, and don't be afraid to add decorative touches of gold on ornate mirror frames, wall sconces or an antique dresser.
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