One of my favorite things about traveling, aside from the food, is the architecture and the interior design. There is something magical about foreign lands – the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral or the balconies of Casa Batlló. It is easy to lose yourself in these lands and structures that were long before our time, because, especially in the United States, they are unfamiliar. Those of us with a deep interest in interior design and architecture find that inspiration comes in many different forms. Sometimes listening to Carla Bruni makes me want skinny furniture and a cappuccino, other times a movie may influence the designer in me – no matter where the inspiration comes from, there is always something about European design. To help curb your appetite I have put together some key influences from seven different countries that may help you turn your home from average to otherwordly. (Image one credit)
Italy – Italia
Known as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Tuscany is known for its beautiful architecture and landscapes. Italy, in general, tends to be colorful and romantic. To get this style in your home focus on color first – golds and reds would be your stronger base colors and use medium greens and strong teals as your accent. The furniture is usually bulky and very detailed. Tuscan design also favors rounded arches rather than squared or pointed ones.
Tuscan Muse: We have chosen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) as the best way of bringing Italia to your home.
Design Soundtrack: Nada Malanima
France – Française
The fashion capital of the world is known for their skinny women and their skinny furniture. Everything in paris is light, thin lines – black and white meet lavender and beige with the occasional reds. Reds and blacks seem to be their strongest base colors and they love accenting with white – or black, depending on the base. The Parisians understood long before the rest of France that less is more, but the little bit you do have must be fabulous. This does not necessarily mean expensive. Try taking an object that reminds you of Paris and decorate around it, for instance: a photo of the Eiffel Tower, or a beret. Focus on the clean lines, the color, and what accents these.
Parisian Muse: The film Amélie (2001) depicts unique fashion and photography, as well as, contemporary Parisian style.
Design Soundtrack: An Education the Soundtrack
Poland – Polski – Polonia
Polish style can be very gothic, inspired by Romanian and Russian architecture and later, baroque architecture. However, the capital also has a very modern appeal. Poland has greatly succeeded in mixing styles and making it look good. To get this feel in your home, don’t be afraid to mix color and detail with simplicity. It’s easier to do this if you make your base simple colors and objects and then accent with gothic paintings and mirrors, or very detailed crown molding.
Polish Muse: Poland is known for their cinema, one of their famous films, The Double Life of Veronica (1991) is known for it’s fantastical plot and beautiful cinematography.
Design Soundtrack: Justyna Steczkowska
Spain – España
Spanish and Italian architecture/design are actually very similar, especially when it comes to color and detail. The style of Barcelona tends to be a bit more busy than that of Tuscany and the slight difference lies in it’s edgy, rugged undertones. Reds and golds are the primary colors here and the details have a menacing appeal about them, almost gothic. The furniture is heavy and more is built around these bulky pieces rather than around one object acting more as an accent.
Spanish Muse: The film Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) nicely portrays scenic Barcelona.
Design Soundtrack: Vicky Cristina Barcelona the Soundtrack
Netherlands – Nederland
The great thing about Amsterdam is that it has a Venetian feel, so you can have fun mixing both. The major area of design here is lighting, which is something we haven’t discussed much. Both Venice and Amsterdam have the canals and they light the way with string lights, this creates a very unique atmosphere. A great way to choose your colors is by looking at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the blues and yellows are perfect to create the mood of Amsterdam. To make sure you have more of an Amsterdam feel rather than a Venetian one, try using reds as an accent, it gives that little bit of edgy passion that deciphers the two.
Dutch Muse: Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Antonia’s Line (1995) tells the story of a dutch feminist.
Design Soundtrack: Gem
United Kingdom – Britain
London has a very unique style, everything tends to be boxy and tight. The colors are usually low key – beige, black, and white. The strongest color ever used is usually a very agreeable blue. The furniture is fairly modern but with a bit more character luxury than we are used to in the states. This is also true for the design of their flats: they have clean lines but these lines are very close together making it more interesting.
British Muse: The film Love Actually (2003) shows many different style based on classes that are very interesting to analyze.
Design Soundtrack: The Beatles
Russia – Rossiyskaya
When I think of Russia I think of St. Basil’s Cathedral, and then I think of Arabian Nights. The decor here is that of “inside the genie lamp”, it is strange and colorful. The fun thing here is that you can be very colorful, mixing pretty much whatever you want. Also, colorful paintings, satin pillows, sharp corners and lines. The lighting here is also important, not necessarily string lights but enough light to make the array of colors brighter, mirrors can help with this. There is a darker side of Moscow, to get this, tone down the colors and focus more on reds and blacks.
Russian Muse: The film Anastatia (1997), though animated, is a wonderful tale that takes place in Russia and France.
Design Soundtrack: Anna Sedokova