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Imitating Italy

While it’s often popular for the peaceful, countryside feeling it imparts to a space, Tuscan-style decorating’s greatest appeal is its simplicity.

Homes decorated with Tuscan style in mind are often inspired by elements of nature: sun-baked hillsides, rustic stone farmhouses, earthy plaster walls, marble floors and sturdy wooden furniture are just some of the fanciful elements of this decorating style. And because Tuscan-inspired rooms often combine comfortable, worn and well-loved pieces, these spaces become effortlessly warm and inviting.

Italian terracotta lounge

Italian style mood board

Italian style mood board

Italian terracotta lounge

Mood board: Background in Resene Bianca with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from right to left) Resene Korma, Resene Tuscany, Resene Sand, Resene Wild West and Resene Apple Blossom and bud vase in Resene Apple Blossom.  Accessories: Rug from Flotsam & Jetsam; Linen pillowcase from Foxtrot Home; Slippers from Blackbird Goods.

This contemporary interpretation of a Tuscan-influenced lounge has been modernised and contextualised for our corner of the world. Though many walls in this part of the world are painted in soft whites or greys, these rich wall and accent colours practically emanate the heat of the Italian countryside and their terracotta colour couldn’t be a more appropriate choice for those after a warm, bold look. Not only is terracotta one of the hottest interior accent colours around, but the name of this ruddy tone also actually comes from Italy and literally means ‘baked earth’.

To create the quintessential mottled Mediterranean-style effect on the walls, we started with two coats of Resene Wild West. Once dry, we applied Resene FX Paint Effects medium mixed with Resene Santa Fe with loose brushstrokes, following close behind with a clean, dry rag to buff the wet medium and soften the effect. While the two hues, Resene Wild West and Resene Santa Fe, don’t appear to be miles different when you compare the two swatches, there is just enough contrast to get the right level of visual texture without so much contrast that effect starts to resemble the rag rolled textures of decades past. The choice to apply a lighter colour over a darker colour rather than the other way around is an important one, too, when you’re looking to create this kind of finish, and the key to making it look great is by working up multiple thin layers rather than trying to get it all done in one go. It’s easy to ramp up the look by brushing and buffing on subsequent layers of Resene FX Paint Effects medium mixed with Resene Santa Fe or scale it back by using another rag to buff on small amounts of Resene Wild West where the effect has gone on too strong.

An Italian terracotta lounge

Tuscan style decorating

Paint: Walls in Resene Wild West with ragged effect in Resene FX Paint Effects medium mixed with Resene Sante Fe, Floor in Resene Bianca, Bench base in Resene Korma, Plinth in Resene Korma, Artwork in Resene Nero (faces) and Resene Waiouru (tiny circle), Props in Resene Sand, Resene Cashmere, Resene Blank Canvas, Resene Bianca, Resene Alabaster, and Resene Brown Bramble.   Accessories: Green glass, cushions and rug from Citta; Fabric (covering cushion) from The Fabric Store; Book, market basket, mug from Blackbird Goods; Book from Paper Plane.

To keep the depth of the wall colour, furniture such as the daybed base and side table in spicy Resene Korma and the vases in Resene Cashmere, Resene Tuscany and Resene Brown Bramble from being too dominating, the floor has been painted in light and warm Resene Bianca – providing an uplifting effect. This is amplified by the white pillowcases and pendant lamp shade in Resene Alabaster, which also help to visually break up the tonal hues.

If the style of this Tuscan-inspired space appeals but browns and rosy terracotta aren’t your cup of tea, look to warm and creamy complex whites such as Resene Spanish White, Resene Canterbury Clay, Resene Sisal, Resene Drought and Resene Fossil. Different strengths of these hues could be richly layered in the same manner to create the look of a light and bright plastered Italian villa. For an even more convincing look, try Resene Sandtex Mediterranean finish on your walls to get an authentic-looking Venetian plaster texture which can be amplified further by layering on Resene FX Paint Effects medium in a contrasting colour. Golden yellows like Resene Noosa, Resene Apache and Resene Manuka Honey are another option, which could be accented with crisp white linen and a few large plant pots in Mediterranean blues and greens like Resene Teal Blue and Resene Blue Lagoon to bring a pop of colour and interest.

One of the best parts about this look is that, with a few simple changes, it could work just as well in an outdoor patio setting as it does for a contemporary interior. If your patio space is covered or at least adequately protected from the sun, wind and rain, outdoor-appropriate lighting, an outdoor rug and outdoor cushions might be the only swaps you need to make.

Styling by Gem Adams. Photography by Wendy Fenwick. 2022

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