Rustic Italian decor combines smooth and rough elements in a way that only Italians could have come up with. The striking contrasts of smooth and rough, light and dark along with natural lighting create an atmosphere that is elegant and charming while being humble and down to earth at the same time. When done right it results in elegance and livability condensed into an awe-inspiring environment.
The Italian Kitchen
The Kitchen is where you should start, since it is the focal point of any true Italian country home. The focal point of most American homes would be the living room, however, in Italy it is the kitchen that has the most prominence.
To understand why, you need to understand something about Italian culture: food is much more that something you eat! Eating is synonymous to loving, caring and socializing. Mealtimes are by far the most important part of any day, and although the food has very high standards the focal point is the people that the meal is shared with.
With that out of the way we can understand the way that kitchens are more of a meeting place, a place where fond memories are made and friends and family bond.
5 Tips on Decorating an Italian Country Kitchen:
1. Use natural wood everywhere! The use of wood is an integral part of decorating your kitchen. The cabinets should obviously be wood and most of the wood should show the grain, i.e., not painted a solid color.
Install antique looking wood beams and trusses across the ceiling. You can buy beautiful faux-beams online that look very real. This will quickly add old-world charm to your kitchen.
The chairs should also be wood with the grain visible. Wood chairs can be very comfortable when made right. If you want them to be more comfortable go with a rough leather look.
2. Natural lighting is very important. Windows in traditional Italian kitchens are usually very high. This allows natural light to infiltrate the room, but it also was very important to ventilation in pre air-conditioning times (many Italian kitchens still don’t have air-conditioning today).
The dressings on the windows are also important. It is a good technique to use weathered wooden shudders. Sometimes you can find wrought iron window inserts or even film that looks like wrought iron and sticks over the glass on a window.
3. Use copper, brass and iron accessories. This really adds a rustic yet elegant flare! Copper, brass and iron can be used in many ways and places. One of the most dramatic uses would be a wrought iron pot rack hung over a chopping block with copper pots hung on brass hooks.
A trick that my mother taught me to keep your copper pots lean is simply to use a different one each day 😉
Picking one of these same materials for the handles on your cabinets is also a good idea.
4. Make good use of open shelves. Open shelves are simple and inexpensive, however, when done right they will have a profound and artistic touch on any kitchen. An open shelve with dishes strategically placed for day to day use is very common in Italian country kitchens.
Of course you could also use a rough woven basket or other rustic decorations on your open shelves, or above your cabinets. A favorite trick is also to use wrought iron braces over rough wood shelves in a pantry to store your cooking staples in elegant glass jars.
5. Pick the right tile. Rustic terra-cotta tiles are a favorite, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use the traditional colored tile. There are many rustic Italian tile designs and colors to choose from. Another option would be to use a ceramic tile that looks like weathered wood.
Of course the tile should not be limited to the floor. The wall under the cabinets and behind the stove should also be tile. You can have a lot of fun mixing and matching rustic and tumbles marble tiles and mosaics!
The picture below illustrates a lot of what was said in this article, the stove sink and fridge are on the other side, but we liked the view of the brick pizza oven 😉
Follow these tricks of the trade and you will be amazed at the effect that it will have on your kitchen! Of course we hope it has the same effect on the food that you prepare in your kitchen!