May 2013 30

European Designs For Canadian Homes

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Dreamy Whites png Provence by Dreamy Whites

Our preferences change fast, and so do trends in art and design. Ordinary people, bloggers, and designers keep coming up with ideas on how to make things work more efficiently. Even though design trends are considered global, there are several countries that live and breathe art and design more than others. Come with us on a Europe Interior Design Tour, learn more about European lifestyle and joie de vivre, and find out how to incorporate the old continent style into your home.

French Country Style

French Country is definitely one of the most popular interior styles around the world. The look is casual, inviting, and fuss-free, with a rustic feel and a soft colour palette. French Country style emerged from Provence villages but is now spread throughout the globe. It can work for anyone on any budget. If you want to turn your home into a relaxing retreat, follow our tips and you will be there in no time.


Interior designers swear by the power of colours. The are the alfa and omega of any interior, and it's no different in French Country style. The colours most associated with this style are soft greens, yellows, and golds with occasional sparks of lavender or rustic red and splashes of blues and pinks. These colours make the perfect background for pastoral furniture, cast iron, and copper cookware. Combined with the right type of furniture, you will achieve a bright and cheery environment.

Bathroom by Mel Mcdaniel Design Bathroom by Mel Mcdaniel Design

Pattern mix-and-match is a very typical feature of French country homes. It may not be obvious at first sight, but if you focus more on details, you can't miss floral patters mixing with stripes, blocks of colour, and stand-alone pictures. French Country mixes floral and plaid with no problem.


You can hardly find any interior style that's associated more strongly with a certain fabric than French Country. Toile is regarded as a signature French village fabric. Its direct translation is "cloth" or "linen." It's a white or beige canvas-like fabric with repeated screen-printed rural motifs. Generally, the motifs feature a scene such as a couple in a boat or a couple sitting underneath trees, as well as churches, streets, and other rural scenes. The colours mostly used are red and blue, but you can also find green, black, or even brown. Toile can be found at any good fabric store in a variety of price ranges.

Breakfast by Dreamy Whites Breakfast by Dreamy Whites

One last fabric-related motif is rooster. Pictures of roosters can be found on everything — from fabric through mugs and china to wallpapers.


Forget everything you know about impeccable households and perfectly symmetrical and polished furniture. French Country style emphasizes rustic feel. In other words, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Actually, the more lived in, the better. You want to look for matte finishes and natural looks. Generally, dark woods are used and painted white or foamy, soft green colours.

Dining by Dreamy Whites Dining by Dreamy Whites

Wrought iron and distressed metal add typical accents to French Country homes. When choosing accessories, look for wrought iron or distressed lamps, tables, or wall clocks.

Home Accessories

No interior is ever complete without home accessories. Only they can add the distinctive look to your home. French village houses burst with all kinds of accessories. Roosters, as mentioned before, are important players in Provence homes. They can be found in every guise imaginable — salt and pepper shakes, pitchers, and door stops are just few pieces to mention. Browse antique shops and visit flea markets to find treasures like French apothecary jars, wooden signs, and tables — and if you're lucky, even furniture. Keep in mind that a casual and welcoming feel and rustic imperfections are features you're looking for; they only make your style more convincing.

Tumbleweed Dandelion png
Kitchen by Tumbleweed Dandelion

French Country style offers a great possibility to mix and match fabrics and colours. This is your opportunity to create a truly personalized look that fits your style and preferences. This style is actually the easiest to attain. Develop the interior design of your home over time by searching for just the right pieces rather than buying a furniture suite. In time, your home will have the classic appeal typical of French Country style.

Accesorizes by Dreamy Whites
Accessories by Dreamy Whites

The last and most important touch is flowers. A French Country home is never complete without flowers. Choose the ones you like, fresh or potted — it doesn’t matter, but don’t forget to add lavender here and there. Nothing say une maison française as much as lavender.

Mediterranean Style

Mediterranean style would fit anyone with a laid-back approach to life — someone who can spend hours chilling, relaxing, or having friends over. It's a mixture of smells, tastes, and colours of the southern coast of Europe, where a casual and friendly lifestyle can be found everywhere, interiors included. Rustic furniture and wall textures together with a colourful palette and pleasing design will surely bring a touch of Mediterranean to even the most northern home.

Bathroom by House and House Bathroom by House+House Architects

Mediterranean style refers to the design style of south Spain, Greece, and Italy — regions known for their turquoise and clear waters, the côte d'azur, sparkling sunny days, and ever-present flowers. Compared to French Country style, Mediterranean style is more relaxed and carefree. It emphasizes colours and textures found in the landscape. Nature is a huge inspiration there, and therefore terra cotta tiles, rough-cut stone, and pine wood are popular.


The colour palette is made up of earthy and warm, vibrant colours. Honey yellows, lively oranges, and deep reds come from picturesque beach sunsets, while a nod to flower fields can be found in the use of lavender, deep purple, and off-white or corn yellow. Greens of all shades can be found in every interior as well, as they represent countryside and forests.

House plus House Archtects Kitchen by House+House Architects

Fabrics and Textures

Mediterranean style is all about textures. They're generally earth- and nature-inspired, just like the colours. Walls are traditionally made of stucco or textured white plaster. Southern Europeans keep their houses light yellow, white, or beige since the sun tends to bleach the colours and re-painting the whole house every year or two wouldn’t be economical.

Floors are often covered with roughly finished tiles or stones. Dark wooden ceiling beams are commonly used in contrast to white stucco walls.

Fabrizia Frezza Architecture and Design Bathroom by Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Design

Water fountains or small ponds placed on courtyards bring some much-desired freshness and humidity to generally hot and dry weather. While European homes usually have a courtyard with a fountain, the Canadian homeowner can capture this feel with a ceramic wall fountain or lavabo.


Southern Europeans love having people around. Their doors are always open and inviting neighbours and friends over for tapas, burritos, or indulgent dinners. These homeowners therefore seek furniture that can serve the family and guests as well. Large pieces such as a plank kitchen table that sits eight to twelve diners are characteristic features. The same principle applies to seating. Modular sofas, arm chairs, and stools all find their way into Mediterranean interiors. Light pine furniture is a signature of this design style. In the 18th and 19th century, these homes had no closets, and all their residents' possessions were kept in large armoires. In modern interiors, these massive pieces of furniture can double as entertainment centres or linen closets.

Mosaic by Anne Rue Interiors Living Room by Anne Rue Interiors

Home Accessories

Accessories in Mediterranean style design are also rustic and colourful. Knobs, faucets, and handles are often made from rough-hewn iron. Each year, brass is becoming more and more popular, and it has found its way into Mediterranean style as well.

The Muslim and North African influence is mainly evident in Spain and Greece. Mosaic tiles are frequently found on tabletops, countertops, and even as wall adornments. Braids of garlic, red onions, and herbs can be found hanging above the kitchen countertop. Copper and cast iron cookware can be equally well used inside as well as outside and adds some colour and sparkle into the interior together with colourful crockery. Flowers and pots of herbs and peppers are a natural part of any Mediterranean interior.

Patio by Gil Walsh Interiors
Patio by Gil Walsh Interiors

Mediterranean style doesn’t need to be expensive. Lovely pine furnishing is among the most price-friendly items. Sometimes it takes just a tub of plaster, and an ordinary kitchen or porch can be turned into a Tuscan summer beach-side villa. Visiting flea markets as well as online auctions on eBay is a great way to get authentic Mediterranean home accessories, lamps, or wall paintings.

Scandinavian Style

Did you know that Carl Larsson is generally credited for creating Scandinavian style? It's a combination of Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish design influences. It was hugely popular in the '50s and is now seeing a massive comeback thanks to its sleek lines and neutral palette, which are essentially timeless and add a sense of elegance to any home or office.

The lack of sunlight during long winter periods made Northern Europeans desire sleek and airy interiors with lots of white that made the most of the available sunlight.

Scandinavian Style by Jeanette Lunde
Scandinavian Style by Jeanette Lunde


The Scandinavian colour palette is much simpler than in the previous two interior styles. It relies on basic, light colours that range from white and beige to light blue. The only exception is bright red, used mostly on decorations, details, and small pieces. As the Scandinavian style spread globally, black and dark, cool grey started to appear in the interiors as well. These colours are, however, used in moderation, as they absorb light and minimize interior space.

Textures and Fabrics

Cotton and linen are the most commonly used fabrics in Scandinavian interior design. Plain fabrics are the favourite; however, you can find fabrics with stripes, lines, and cross motifs as well. White fur and soft leather create a cozy and warm atmosphere and add a personal touch to any room.

Bedroom by Brad Ford ID Bedroom by Brad Ford ID

Scandinavians love large windows and high ceilings, but covering the eyes of their home is considered a sin. Minimal if any curtains are to be found on windows, and the same applies to floor carpeting. Hardwood floors are usually painted white or pale colours and decorated with small rugs. Rugs, when used, are often striped or of a small-patterned floral design.


If I were to choose one signature piece of furniture that symbolizes Scandinavian interior, it would be a bench. Benches and bench-like sofas are a staple of Scandinavian style interior design. Commonly, these pieces are set on six legs with minimal upholstery or separate seat cushions. Legs are usually thin and tapered. Pine, ash, and beech wood is mostly used, and it can be found raw, untreated, or painted a pale yellow or white. Carved accents like fluted legs and scrolled table boarders add a little detail to minimalistic furniture.

Dining by Andrea Swan
Dining by Andrea Swan


The Scandinavian home is simple, clean, and uncluttered. If you prefer light and airy interiors, you would feel perfectly at home in this style of house. Mirrors are heavily used to reflect the scarce light and bring sparkle to the darkest corners. Wreaths are another commonly found object, whether hung on doors or walls or placed in the centre of a table. They are usually made of boxwood and decorated with candles, china, and flowers.

Design by Jeanette Lunde
Design by Jeanette Lunde

Denmark and Sweden are well-known for their glass, silver, and porcelain craftsmen, such as Jensen and Orefors, or Iittala. But tabletop items should be used sparingly and should be kept simple.

Scandinavian style interior design is timeless, fresh, and elegant, as well as warm and welcoming even though decorations are seldom used. It makes a nice change from traditional French Countryside or Mediterranean styles.

Photo Credits:

Dreamy Whites Jeanette Lunde Swan Architects - Andrea Swan Brad Ford ID Mel Mcdaniel Design House+House Architects Fabrizia Frezza Architecture & Design Tumbleweed & Dandelion Anne Rue Interiors Gil Walsh Interiors

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