European Style in American Homes – Update Your Interior This Season
What do you think of when you hear “European style homes?” A towering French chateau with floor-to-ceiling windows and a carefully-pruned topiary garden? A grey stone Italian villa perched on a lush hillside in a vineyard? A creamy stucco Spanish villa with a bright clay tile roof surrounded by olive trees?
All of these home styles are “European” as well as many, many others. We select these three because of things they have in common and how you can use those commonalities to improve your interior, regardless of the size or style or location of your home. Here’s how you can update your home for any season using these three European decorating tips:
3 Tips for Bringing European Style to Your Home
Tip #1: Declutter Your Space
Chances are that without even knowing it, you have amassed a collection of knick-knacks and bric-a-brac and that these, along with books, magazines, shoes, dog toys, unopened mail, and the like, are cluttering up your living space and ruining your sightlines.
The European style homes noted above would all have clear, open spaces with unobstructed sightlines. They are onto something – clutter in your living space affects your ability to relax and recover from your workday. By way of contrast, cleared surfaces allow your eyes to navigate the space without interruption, distraction, or feeling guilty that there is so much stuff around.
Try it – you’ll like it! This tip is also the first step to following Tip #2…
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Tip #2: Paint Your Living Space In a Fresh, Bright, Neutral “Gallery” Color
The custom home builders at Goldleaf Design say that white, off-white, cream, pale gray, and pale taupe are the go-to colors for interiors these days. Why? Because these colors reflect rather than absorb light, which is important especially in the winter months when we are all light-deprived. European interiors in the country almost always use these colors.
Ever noticed how art galleries generally use neutral colors? This is because any other color can compliment them, making this palette the perfect backdrop. Neutral walls also give you the freedom to decorate in whatever style and whatever colors that suit you at the time. And, you can change it all up anytime without changing the wall color. Wouldn’t you like to have the flexibility to change your decor seasonally, for holidays, or just whenever you feel like it?
Go for it – with the high-quality interior paints now commercially available, painting walls is the easiest and least expensive step you can take to dramatically improve your space.
Tips #3: Add Plants, Pops of Color, and Meaningful Accessories
European country style homes are invariably surrounded by greenery. Luckily, regardless of whether you live in a farmhouse on several acres, a rancher in a subdivision, or a city townhome, you can bring the outdoors in with strategically-placed indoor plants.
Now that you’ve decluttered the space and painted a light neutral color, look at the space. Do you have room for plants? Sure you do! Do you have corners crying out for a fiddle leaf fig tree? A mantle that needs a pothos plant draping down? A peace lily on the hearth? Plants are a refreshing pop of green and help purify your indoor airspace, with very little care in general – a good investment of your time and money.
If you feel you don’t have a green thumb, google houseplants and find out which ones are easiest to care for considering your lifestyle. There are plenty of plants out there that thrive with only a twice-monthly watering and a twice-yearly feeding.
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Pops of Color
Next, think about this coming season. What do you want to see around you that celebrates you and all that this season means to you? If not celebrating a specific holiday, one might look to the seasons for inspiration. For fall, cozy throws in autumn colors and brass or bronze accents will warm-up space and take you into winter. For spring, perhaps bright and/or patterned throw pillows and rattan accents will welcome the warm weather.
Last, what bit of “clutter” did you remove that you now think, I’d like to see that again? You may have meaningful family treasures, like photographs – install some of these now but be judicious, you can always rotate them in and out of the public display. Great-great-grandma’s sampler? Hang that where and when appropriate. Your father’s WWII army medals? Sure.
Again, these photographs and heirlooms can be rotated in and out of display to avoid re-cluttering up your space. Rotating will also maintain visual interest over time because if you have the same meaningful items around you 365-24-7, you tend to lose interest or stop noticing them. The trick to avoiding that is to have some of these meaningful family treasures out each season, and then put those away and bring out others as seasons change. It will make your space more interesting and you will appreciate each item a lot more.
You’ll be amazed at how following these three simple tips will refresh your living space and open things up for you, as they do for the Europeans. Best of luck!
Words by Jennifer Bell