Tuscan interior decor begins with an understanding of Tuscan architecture. Even a cursory page-flipping through the history books of Tuscany and its architecture reveals two impressions: Strength and Grandeur.
In the minds of modern day homeowners, these concepts seem to have translated into ‘security and permanence’, and ‘nobility of design’.
The book and subsequent movie, Under The Tuscan Sun, seem to have awakened a long dormant desire for the rustic, simple beauty found in the hill towns of Tuscany. Often described as voluptuous, sensuous, and seductive, this region of Italy has experienced an unparalleled awakening in both the European and North American consciousness.
The power of broad facades, massive stones, and symmetrically aligned square windows are once again the fashion of the day. Perhaps we are drawn to such strength of design if our own country of origin and its heritage are so young, so unrefined, and so seemingly impermanent when compared to Italy and the ancient Etruscan and Roman societies.
Thankfully, the ‘throw away’, ‘use it once and toss it’, light weight, impermanent mindset of recent decades has been abandoned in favor of enduring quality. The stark simplicity of contemporary design seems to have gone cold and lifeless. All now replaced by a quest for homes designed with a sense of history, luxury, rustic strength, and an air of permanence.
Tuscan decor says, “I’m here, I’m of the earth, and I will be here forever.”
The brilliance of using what we have –
Out of necessity, Tuscan architects utilized readily available materials, such as stone from local quarries. They adapted dwellings to the warm climate, and incorporated depth and strength of walls during warring times. Hence, we see massive stone facades, the most easily recognizable feature of Tuscan architecture.
There also seems to have been an innate love of simplicity and symmetry. This appreciation for beauty, evidenced in even the most humble buildings, is no doubt born of daily exposure to the pure elegance of the Tuscan countryside. Endless vistas of undulating green hills, gracefully thin cypress trees, lush olive groves, and intertwined grape vines have slowly evolved into the Tuscan decor so loved today.
Early Etruscan architecture was easily recognizable by its massive stones, the square forms of their edifices, and their heavy projecting beams, even when later embellished with Greek or Roman design elements. Often called Mediterranean (a broadening of the geographic area of design elements), Tuscan decor brings to mind sun washed colors, liberal use of stone, metal, square windows, and symmetry. Intricate details are often found that soften the strong, masculine features. There is always present a meticulous attention to quality craftsmanship, and stones marry with precision.
Even during the time of Michelangelo, who frequently combined rustic with polished, old with new, and Etruscan with Roman, builders faithfully retained the original elements of Tuscan decor. Before Michelangelo’s day, the earliest Etruscan architects, while originally designing almost solely for strength and defensive integrity, later gave way to including details that added nobility.
It’s no wonder that North Americans, as well as many other western cultures are craving a sense of antiquity, a longing for the rustic beauty, warmth, and functionality of Tuscan design. Discriminating homeowners are demanding not only design excellence, but also quality materials and furnishings to carry out those designs. Clever and knowledgeable modern builders/architects have learned how to weave the ancient concepts of the Tuscan builders into modern design. Using updated materials, they have been able to adapt the most basic elements of Tuscan design in order to meet the requirements of today’s savvy designers.
And so with a respectful nod to Michelangelo, we see that caring and ambitious home decorators can take the best from the past, blend it with the newest technological innovations of today, and build the dreams of the future.
Copyright 2008. Excerpt from Decorating in the Tuscan Style, the 162-page eBook packed with tips and techniques (and lots of photos) to help you transform your home and garden into the heart and soul of Tuscany. To learn more about Tuscan décor, visit http://www.intheTuscanstyle.com.