Italian-style country living starts in the kitchen. Here are five ways to bring little Italy into your home.
1 Gather around the kitchen table
Nothing epitomises country living quite like a big farmhouse table. In Italy, every meal is an occasion, an event to be enjoyed with family and friends.
So a long, sturdy table with benches or wooden chairs with straw seats is essential for the kitchen. Choose your table for its character – the more rustic the wood the better.
Shop around for tablecloths with a distinct Italian feel – go for crisp, white embroidered cloths; Tuscan-style hand-painted cloths with sunflowers and fruit; or the quintessential red and white check.
If your kitchen’s too small for a big table, invest in a butcher’s trolley, preferably one on wheels so that you can move it around to make extra space.
2 Display your wares
The Italian country look is all about putting decorative and useful items on display. Gleaming copper pots and pans and baskets hanging from an overhead pot rack makes the space look inviting – and it’s also wonderfully practical if you’re short of storage space. Put out traditional Italian cooking elements, such as a mortar and pestle, and other practical items like jugs, cutlery and candleholders.
3 Fresh produce
Accessorise your kitchen with food and elements from nature – fill baskets with fresh fruit and vegetables, place herbs in terracotta pots on the window sills, hang strings of garlic cloves and onions on the walls or from the pot rack and display glass jars of pickled vegetables and fruit. Decorative olive oil bottles or tins add an authentic touch, as does a generous bunch of olive branches in a ceramic jug.
4 Light the way
Keep the lighting warm and subtle – a simple yet decorative wrought iron candelabra provides atmospheric lighting. If you’re building from scratch, consider putting in a rustic fireplace surrounded by natural stone and slate.
5 Sticks and stones
Wood is an important feature in the Italian home and while the architecture is simple – exposed wooden beams, white plastered walls and simple lines – the accessories make the room cosy and inviting. Look out for old, solid pieces of painted wooden furniture with an aged and distressed look (or give them that look yourself) and incorporate natural textures such as stone or terracotta tiles.
6 Floors are bare
Floors are traditionally screeded or laid with dark stained wood or stone tiles – tiles of irregular shape and colour add character and authenticity. Floors are rarely carpeted, but rugs provide a splash of colour and soften the effect of the bare floor – and a crystal chandelier adds a touch of sophistication.