Italy, in Florence and Tuscany in particular, was the founding nation of the Renaissance artistic cultural and social movement which swept across Europe at the time.
Italian Renaissance/Tuscan interior design refers to the furnishing, decorations, and decorative arts in Italy during the Renaissance period (mid-14th century to late-16th century).
Influences from the French and Spanish countryside are largely felt, plus influences from the Renaissance period of the Middle Ages are present as well.
What defines the Tuscan Style
Contrary to the styles dominant at the densely ornamented classical eras before and during the Renaissance, Tuscan interior style is minimalist. Using less furniture, only essential pieces needed are used. That is obviously clear in the old palaces of Florence and elsewhere, like the Palazzo Davanzati and Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Tuscan style gives a warm, rustic feeling, like a grandparents’ house, as one enters a Tuscan house.
The Use of Natural Materials
Tuscan design uses only natural materials that are available in abundance in Italy, avoiding the addition of modern building materials, like porcelain, reconstituted wood, composite tiles, and others.
Main Materials Used
1. Building Stones
For exterior stones, Italian architects and artists used Pietra Forte, a typical stone of Florence that has given medieval Florence its character. It is a hard limestone, yellow in color, largely used in Tuscany and particularly in Florence on the facades of palaces. Examples include Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Antinori, Medici, and Strozzi. Pietra Forte has an elegant and fresh look, and is still is largely used in Italy, quarries are in the hills north of Florence (Fiesole and Maiano).
For interior stones, a grey-colored sandstone called Pietra Serena, known for its strength and elegance, was especially used abundantly in architectural details in Renaissance Florence, such as large monolithic columns, arches, and large fireplaces in historic buildings interiors. It is also found in Fiesole, Arezzo, Cortona, and Volterra.
Nevertheless, Brunelleschi, the famous Italian architect and artist, was the first to use Pietra Serena for the exterior facades of the Hospital of the Innocents in Florence (Ospedale degli Innocenti) and in Michelangelo’s Medici Chapel. After Brunelleschi, architects started using it for exteriors and interiors.
Nowadays, it is used in the restoration of historic centers. It’s also used for paving stones in streets, the cladding of old buildings, as well as internal stairs and wall cladding.
2. Stone Tiles
Terracotta, found throughout Tuscany, is fired red and brown earth clay. Giving your home a Tuscan-inspired look begins with architectural elements such as terracotta floor tiles and roof tiles.
Natural stone such as travertine, marble, granite, and limestone are used as building materials for floors and countertops.
Tile mosaics are common for kitchen backsplashes and courtyard fountains.
3. Ceiling (Natural Raw Wooden Beams/Frescos)
Used largely during the Renaissance period in palaces and homes, this particular style of ceiling is still used today.
Raw dark wooden beams are standard features of a traditional Tuscan ceiling, creating a rustic contrast with the smooth light-colored plaster walls.
Frescos, painted designs such as clouds or angels, are frequently used to decorate ceilings in foyers and dining rooms, and are omnipresent in historic buildings, palaces, public places and more in Florence.
These are usually painted with earth tone colors and neutral shades. The creamy shade of worn out plaster is very trendy nowadays.
Mainly white fabrics are used for upholstery, curtains, bed covers, tablecloths, etc., giving a fresh feeling of cleanliness and lightness.
Wrought iron is largely used in Tuscany in items from coffee tables to side tables, chairs, and beds. Indoor and outdoor furniture is mainly made of wrought iron
painted in white or other light colors. They can be antiqued a little bit or left plain.
Crude wooden pieces are inevitable, from old desks to chest of drawers and benches at the end of beds. Sofas with minimal design and white fabric covers are a main element in Tuscan designed houses.
Chandeliers, candelabras, and fireplaces are just as important when it comes to defining Tuscan style, not to mention the importance of
an old antique rug under the white sofa.
Tuscan-style interior design brings a scheme that is just as appealing now as it was in the past. It’s a style of elegance and romance.
Following my visit to Florence last March, I was taken by the opulence of culture, art, design, and history that are present. It was like walking through culture and history.
Therein, I developed an affinity for Tuscan design and style for its simplicity, minimalism, and comfort. It takes you to a place where you forget the stress of everyday life and transfers you to a time of calmness and serenity. This article is written and photographed from my personal experience during my stay.
A quick note about the reviews on this site: I am an affiliate for every product I review. The vendors of these products give me them without charge in order for me to test them. However all my reviews are done as honestly as possible and I make no promises to the vendor prior to writing my review. Should you click a link on this site that takes you to a paid product this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to purchase that product.