Famous for its stunning landscapes and outstanding food and wine, the central Italian region of Tuscany offers a rich array of color and texture. This bountiful land inspires the Tuscan style of decorating with its rich colors, its variety of textures and its rustic appeal.
Tuscan design is best known for the intensity of its colors. Tuscan gold is deep and rich, while its yellow is sunny and bright. Tuscan greens run the gamut from the deep green of Italian cypress to fertile grassy hillsides. Under the bright Italian sun, blue washes out to a pale wisp, while a deep purple, the color of eggplants is seen in elements such as purple rugs.
However, the most noted color in the Tuscan palette is an earthy orange tinted by the sunset and anchored in the reddish clay of the soil. This reddish orange distinguishes Tuscan decor from all other Italian styles.
Like its colors, Tuscan design burst with textures found in nature: wood, marble, and iron that has been fashioned into wrought iron. Floors in Tuscan style can be hardwood or marble, while walls usually are plaster painted gold or yellow. Kitchen countertops and backsplashes are made of hand-painted tiles, although brick may be used in the walls. Wooden cabinetry abounds, often with wrought iron grilles on the cabinet fronts. Decorative moldings are everywhere, while the bounty of the land contributes motifs such as fruit, especially grapes, and baskets of food.
The capital of Tuscany, Florence, has been prominent among Italian cities since 59 B.C. Florence was an important center of art, culture and banking during the Renaissance, resulting in a crowded, dirty city from which those who could escaped from time to time. In their country homes, the well-to-do Florentines reveled in countryside’s textures and colors. Every kitchen had its own herb garden, for color and aroma as much as for cooking. Courtyards boasted long tables where people relaxed for hours, enjoying food, wine, music and conversation.
This tradition of indoor/outdoor living became a hallmark of Tuscan decorating, even when the style may appear in an upscale urban environment. The elements may be reduced; for example, a few potted herbs on the windowsill take the place of an entire garden. The colors, too, may be toned down, but the unmistakable Tuscan orange still anchors the design, often reflected in unusual orange rugs.
Still, the distinct elements of authentic Tuscan style are still to be found in a warm and inviting interior, especially in the kitchen of the home. There a wrought iron pot rack will hold an array of copper pots. The backsplash behind the sink will be painted tiles and the walls mostly likely are textured like plaster, and washed with yellow or gold to give a rustic effect. Deep upholstered furniture made of wood contrasts with simple benches and footstools. Trestle tables often vie with marble topped tables in the same room, and both are appropriate.
While the colors may differ somewhat from original Tuscan style, the palette is drawn from the earth and its abundant fruits and vegetables. Indoors and outdoors blur together in a celebration of all that is good in life.