Go continental - using holiday inspiration

Travelling around Europe is a great opportunity to see some beautiful continental styles in homes and public interiors such as hotels. The continental style is quite varied when you go from country to country and you might find your preference in one period style of Italy, France or any other country you have visited of late. When you see something that you love and wish to bring back home then it only takes a little effort on your part and some advice from us to push you in the right direction. We are going to highlight one country that we believe to be one of the most stylish - Italy.
  • Italian decorating is very pleasing on the eye - that is nothing new but look nearer and you will see how décor pieces have function too. Beautiful and functional - a balance that you need to achieve to really pull the Italian continental style off.
  • These days, the Italians decorate with both traditional and contemporary styles together - which they do very well may we add. Where lots of textures and detailing were a main element to Tuscan or Florentine styles, the modern home of Italy has started to go minimalist with a few traditional accessories - this might be an idea for those who don't want to go completely continental.
  • A continental Italian home has a definite romantic feel to it with both elegance and relaxation being high on the agenda. Try to hold back from choosing 'sets' of anything - you would do better to collect traditional or antique pieces over time and add them in slowly. You might think that furniture from different periods will not look cohesive but you can always do that with colour.
  • Never be hasty to throw out old pieces that have potential. For example, if you have been lucky enough to gain a set of traditional dining chairs from an older relative and the upholstery has seen better days - give them a new upholstery and choose boldly striped silk curtain fabric or velvet to stay within the continental style.
  • The Italians have a long history of appreciating fine arts and this shows in any home whether it be modern or traditional. You don't have to be an art connoisseur or even have bags of cash to afford the right pieces. Artwork that leans towards Renaissance, Neoclassicism or Romanticism will work best but that doesn't have to mean you need to buy antique pieces. Try to be in the right places such as art displays or studios from local art students and you could find something special.
  • Fabrics are another way to get the continental Italian look at home. Full length pencil pleat curtains drawn back to let the natural light in are typical of this style. Choose sheer fabrics in neutral colours or look for curtain material for warm, earthy colours reminding us of Tuscany and the beautiful vineyards you had to leave behind.

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