The trademark of Old World style interior design is a relaxed, comfortable look that has the ambience of an old European estate or manor. This welcoming style can be created in any residence through the use of color, texture and material.
Old World Decorating
Old World design is a mix of various European influences, such as French antiques, and earthy materials, like tumbled marble, tile and limestone. Other important elements include sizeable furniture pieces and deep texture on walls, fabrics and flooring. The style is pulled from several design elements; when creating Old World style for your home, look to any of these areas for influence:
- French Country
- French Chateau
- Italian Villa
You can pull solely from one area, or combine elements you love from all or any in a combination that suits you and your home. Having a Tuscan kitchen mixed with an Italian Villa-inspired living room can add interest and subtle variation to a theme that still has cohesive elements.
Old World Basics
Frequently, decorating in Old World style provides a worn, rustic and inviting atmosphere. To achieve this, include some of the following elements.
Select colors that are rich, warm and deep in tone. Pull colors from nature, your surroundings or the surroundings of Old World towns and villages. Pomegranate reds, deep golds and hunter greens lend a warm and inviting feeling to the space. Keep the palette of each room warm and subtly different from the next to create a color story that walks you through the space.
Some colors and finishes typically used are:
- Dark-stained wood
- Distressed gold or silver finishes
- Forest green
- Painted, glazed or sanded surfaces that look aged
Fabrics and Textures
Old world fabrics include:
- Aubusson rugs
- Damasks with large scroll or floral patterns
- Fringe, tassels and beaded trim
- Radiant silks
- Small cotton prints
- Tapestry patterns
Be sure to include plenty of Old World accents in the design. Wrought iron, pottery, terra cotta, damask draperies and a distressed finish can all help to complete the Old World design. Tapestries and richly woven rugs are also a way of accenting the design in Old World style. Fill the home with knick-knacks and accent pieces that speak to you, leaving them out in the open to become part of the room's design.
If you're completely gutting a room to remodel, or building from the ground up, include many interior architectural styles of the Old World. These include exposed wooden beams and arched windows and doorways. If you aren't remodeling, try to reproduce these elements with room screens, window treatments and heavy furniture.
Use as many natural materials as possible in the Old World design. This includes natural woods, stone and metal work. Use these elements throughout the home's interior with heavy wooden kitchen cabinets, stone floors and wrought iron curtain rods. Include various species and colors of each material to add additional depth. Copper can mix with iron, while granite and limestone sit side-by-side.
The furniture of an Old World design is freestanding. Avoid built in pantries and shelves, and include freestanding cabinets instead. A kitchen island with a butcher block or marble top is also an important design element, as it serves as both a work space and a gathering place in the kitchen.
Look for slightly rustic, rough-hewn and heavy furniture pieces. Include couches and chairs with wooden frames and cushions that are done in rich colors and textured fabrics. The room should have a lived in, yet formal appearance that invites people to come in and sit down.
Creating Old World Style
Old World style decorating can give your home a warm, comfortable feeling. This can be done throughout the home, or concentrated on one or more rooms.
Old World Kitchens
In Old World kitchens, the cabinets are uncomplicated in design, with arches and hearth style stoves or ovens. Cabinet doors usually have noticeable hinges and oversized door hardware. The molding and corner edges are frequently softly rounded as well. Large kitchen islands are perfect for this style of home and many times are stained or painted in a different finish from the cabinetry. Kitchen appliances are best when hidden away in Old World design. Use custom cabinetry panels and doors to conceal microwaves, refrigerators, and dishwashers, so that they blend into the décor.
Additional Elements of Old World Design
Another way to insert an Old World, well-traveled feel into a room is to use fabrics that feature maps or animal prints. Also, attractive books with leather or fabric covers will add substance to this style. The addition of woven shades, bamboo elements, wicker furniture and decorative storage trunks can also support the design.
Old World Resources
Whether you are looking for inspiration, ideas or furnishings for your home, there are plenty of resources available for old world decorating.
- HGTV's Old World Ideas - Over 60 room projects featuring Old World style interior design.
- Euro World Design - Offers plans for Old World style homes and cottages.
- Accents of Salado - Sells Old World Italian, Tuscan, and Mediterranean home décor items.
- Touch of Class - Accessories and furnishings of old Europe and Asia.
Commit to the Design
Old World style decorating works best when you commit to it completely. Embrace the design one room at a time, completing each before moving on to the next. Because of the number of textures, colors and looks available, your home can still have an eclectic or personal feel while achieving a cohesive design. Begin working it into your home today.