Authentic Tuscan style ranges from rustic to ornate, depending on whether you're talking about a modest farmhouse or a medieval castle on a hill. But it's rooted in a reverence for the timeless beauty and traditions of centuries of Italian culture and the surrounding landscape of terracotta roofed stone houses, fields of sunflowers and lush hillsides dotted with olive groves, umbrella pines and vineyards.
The Tuscan color palette features earthy warm sun-baked oranges, yellows and reds. Traditional homes feature dark wood ceiling beams and rich rust-colored tile floors, and are typically furnished with dark wood furniture, religious art and iconography and scrolled, feminine curves on everything from ironwork to lamp shades.
Nevertheless, as interpreted outside of Italy, and perhaps most egregiously in the Tuscan-style homes of the American early aughts, this classic style can veer a bit over-the-top when builders try to create a rustic old world feel with cheap materials and tacky faux finishes. While real estate professionals have been known to give tips on how to de-Tuscanize your home in an era when Scandi-inspired light woods and minimalism currently reigns, those who love this classic style can incorporate some of its core elements to bring a little bit of the Tuscan countryside to wherever you call home.
In a simple, rustic Tuscan-style farmhouse bedroom, dark heavy wood ceiling beams, window trim and tile floors are contrasted with crisp white walls and delicately curved metal bed frames and tables. Even if you're not working with the bones of a Tuscan home, you can introduce some Tuscan style with an ornately carved wrought iron bed frame or a wood or upholstered headboard with Italian curves.
Old World Details
While Tuscany is known for its rustic simplicity, it's also influenced by the Italian love for classic art and sculpture and decorative objects, with many of the world's greatest artistic treasures located in its capital city of Florence. Many Tuscan homes are decorated with oil paintings, gilded or painted mirror frames and all sorts of decorative objects that are passed down through the generations. Embrace the spirit by adding vintage or antique objects sourced from flea markets or online to create a space that looks like it has evolved over time. Be sure to incorporate objects with a patina that makes them feel lived in and less than perfect, which is part of the essence of old world charm.
While Italian marble might be the first material that comes to mind, many Tuscan bathrooms use rustic tile and stone instead. This simple Tuscan bathroom doesn't need much more than floor-to-ceiling tile and a rustic free-standing bathtub and pedestal sink to create an inviting space that will never go out of style. Painting trim and ceilings in whites and creamy beige tones keeps the look light and fresh. While it's hard to recreate this look in a contemporary space, you can use it as inspiration to incorporate some natural tile or stone, even on one wall of your bathroom, and to consider incorporating new retro-style bathroom fixtures such as pedestal sinks and freestanding bathtubs to create a timeless feel.
Painted Ceramic Tableware
Rare is the Tuscany tourist who doesn't come home with a set of scene-stealing painted ceramics in intricate patterns and vivid colors. If your tastes run more toward natural and minimal, you'll find plenty of terracotta dishes and ceramics in subtler earth tones as well in a Tuscan style home. A simple earthenware water pitcher or a beautiful ceramic fruit bowl will look just as at home in a contemporary apartment as in a Tuscan farmhouse, if used sparingly.
Contemporary Tuscan Style
Many Tuscans have chosen to streamline the look of traditional homes by lightening up the color palette—painting out but retaining heavy ceiling beams in whites and pale neutral shades to create an airier effect while maintaining character and identifiable local charm while bringing their homes into the 21st century. Antique furniture is often beautiful but uncomfortable, so upholstered contemporary pieces with classic lines that offer modern comforts work well with traditional accessories like a curvy mirror, an old wooden ladder or farm stool as end table, and Tuscan colors can be introduced in smaller doses with throw pillows and other textiles and accessories.
But even if you're starting with a drywall ceiling and cookie cutter proportions, think about incorporating weathered wood in the form of furniture or decorative objects. Italian-style lampshades on wall sconces, elegant drapes and comfortable modern furniture complete the look.
Tuscan homes often feature covered terraces or patios for al fresco dining and socializing while providing shelter from the harshest sun. You can take plenty of inspiration in their use of abundant greenery housed in a motley assortment of rustic terracotta pots and chairs and tables in wood or metal that will develop a weathered look as the years pass, particularly if you live in a similar climate, which may be one reason why Tuscan style is so popular in places like California.