The luxurious feel of Tuscan design

Many clients ask for the sunny, rich historic Tuscany look for their homes. It is a romantic ideal for design which brings olive groves and citrus trees to our imagination as we long for the sun to warm us throughout the year. We adore the sun bleached homes and worn finishes on the furniture and floors when we see them in a magazine or a movie yet it can be difficult to make that look a reality in our homes.

Tuscan style is luxurious yet informal with much of the style influence coming from rich upholstery and bold expressive wood furniture. People who truly decorate Tuscan do so with deep emotion, family traditions and often regional style consideration. It is a décor that is steeped in history and passion which reflects a deep love of the country surrounding it. So how do we duplicate this expressive design in our land of Alberta where olive trees do not abound?

Pick the elements of Tuscan design that will suit your home. Search for large-scale wood furniture that has ornate mouldings and interesting shape – a bombe chest with a curvy front or a large oval coffee table with beautifully carved feet. Worn metal pulls with floral or leaf motifs add the right embellishment to your dressers and book shelves. The influences of the renaissance are prevalent throughout Tuscan design and you will discover scrollwork, urn patterns and classic Grecian inspired style on dressers, coffee tables and sumptuous wooden sleigh beds.

Using colour is a must for Tuscan décor; go on the hunt for warm and bright colours such as ochre, terra cotta, umber, gold and ivory. Fabrics and paints come together using these sun soaked colours with varying layers of hues, paint techniques and various fabric combinations. Drapery is layered for the diverse weather of the day; wispy sheers to float in the breeze accompany heavier tapestries to keep out the evening chill. Furniture can be draped with everything from crisp linen to ornate velvet and chenille. A traditional Tuscan home will have multiple colours on the walls and will most likely have blended and custom paint finishes covering aging plaster walls. Exposed stonewalls and fireplaces also have an impressive presence in a Tuscany home, the varying pattern and colours play an important part in the design.

Have I romanced you yet? Are you craving a traditional Tuscan flavoured room? Good! The trouble is of course finding a home in Alberta that has features like century old hardwood and metal shutters embracing windows in their gentle arabesque pattern. The second thing that trips people up is the age and worn quality of some of the pieces that you can acquire – the Tuscan look can be beautiful but it does require a love of certain antiques.

This doesn’t mean you can’t integrate a Tuscan theme for your home; it is simply a matter of incorporating some of your favorite elements of this passionate design trend. Whether it is in the colour or textures and patterns you can successfully pull it off with a few simple pieces of inspiration. The villas of Tuscany await your discovery of their design warmth and beauty.

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Contact her at 403-343-7711 ext 227 or email her at