Sep 03, 2023


Bring on vacation with decorating ideas, finishes, motifs, and color palettes inspired by the Mediterranean.

Patricia Shannon is a freelance homes writer for Better Homes & Gardens with over a decade of editorial experience. Her areas of expertise include decorating, cleaning, and how-to content. Patricia is also a regular contributor with Southern Living and Coastal Living magazines.

Want to know the key to cultivating a lifestyle that feels like an everyday escape? Start at home. Lucky for us, one of the trendiest aesthetics to hit the decor scene this year is a surefire way to create a home style that feels like a permanent vacation. Mediterranean style has arrived stateside and we’ve got tips on how to create the coastal-inspired home you’ve been dreaming of.


Photographer and writer Miguel Flores-Vianna, whose upcoming book Haute Bohemians: Greece is slated for release this month, has traveled Greece and the Mediterranean extensively since childhood. Mediterranean style, he says, is anything but one-dimensional. "The countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea are very different from each other, and the homes of the ‘locals’ in each of the countries have many different features."

That said, there are commonalities when exploring the broad-reaching Mediterranean aesthetic. Perhaps the most prominent is its relevance no matter the year, age, or space. "Mediterranean style feels timeless because it does not follow fashions, and it uses decorative elements that feel authentic and of the place," he says. Creating a space that pulls inspiration from the Mediterranean can deliver a style that is both captivating and like a breath of fresh air. Here are four ways to bring Mediterranean-inspired decor into your home.

Edmund Barr

One commonality between the style found in the various Mediterranean countries is a focus on outdoor living. Flores-Vianna says this is a product of the climate that favors warm, sunny days. "There's a lot of outdoor living in the Mediterranean, even in the big cities where most people live in apartment buildings, and balconies become outdoor living spaces for people to gather and socialize," he says. "In Mediterranean homes, one is always aware of the outdoors; it's as though the balcony, the garden, or the patio is another room in the house."

Whether a small patio, courtyard, or sprawling lawn, creating an outdoor space that acts as an extension of the home channels the alfresco hospitality of the region. Consider creating space for conversation, space for dining, and space that allows for a peaceful respite—even if you’re smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.

"What defines Mediterranean aesthetics for me is the light," says Flores-Vianna. "Homes around the Mediterranean basin are full of light which renders them joyful and spirited." Along with this special homage to light comes the ability to play with other special elements in a way that is specific to the region. Think unobstructed natural light, allowing the space to bask in the sun. "The intensity of the light allows interior decor in those countries to utilize color and textures and materials in a very specific way," the writer and photographer adds.

Of course, there are times when privacy or some sort of light filtration is needed. In those instances, call on gauzy curtains in neutral fabrics that blend in with the surroundings. They’ll provide a romantic feel that doesn't obstruct the overall light-filled vision for the space.

It's a less is more aesthetic when it comes to Mediterranean-inspired decor. More luxurious and ornate decor certainly exists in the Mediterranean region (think stunning tapestries, walls of leatherbound books, and stunning tile applications) but always with an air of restraint. "I feel that there is a certain lightness in these homes, a certain spareness which, I believe, comes from the relatively more relaxed way Mediterraneans approach daily life," says Flores-Vianna.

A single wood chair, a simple collage of blue and white earthenware, or a special collection of items adds personality and warmth, but without being overdone. Look for ways to impart your personality while keeping the overall effect more minimal.

Wood furnishings, stone accents, even the beauty of gorgeous twisted vines bring a remarkably Mediterranean feel to a space when they’re allowed to shine in their own right. Against white washed walls and sun-drenched landscapes these elements can deliver interest, warmth, and authenticity in a way that feels timeless. Consider walls, the ceiling, and flooring as well as these surfaces can provide ample opportunity to draw on natural materials with an old-world feel. Reclaimed wood doors that expertly pop against both crisp white walls or a rustic stone exterior create two entirely different aesthetics, but both with decidedly Mediterranean-inspired origins.

Jessie Preza

"What I have tried to do with Haute Bohemians: Greece is to show the diversity of Greek interiors due to the different cultural influences in various parts of the country," explains Flores-Vianna. "For example, someone from Northern Greece would not think of a typical northern house as being similar to a house on any of the Dodecanese islands." While he says it's impossible to show the scope of design influences of the entire country in a single book, his objective has been to share both the stylistic and tradition differences that are present throughout Greece.

Just as with Mediterranean decor, there's no single path to this aesthetic but, through discovering more about the region, its history, and design influences, one can begin to pull on how to make it an authentic part of their lives as well—no matter where they call home.