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  • Italian Inspiration for Your Home
    Here, you'll find tips on how to turn to Italy when thinking about how to decorate and accessorize your place
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    Like most single Italian girls, I still live at home with my parents. My little room, although stuck in the 1970s with its dark wood paneling and orange carpeting, is cozy enough. It's my entertainment center, office and bedroom all in one. There are lovely reminders - from baby photos to stuffed animals - of my very happy childhood. It tugs on my heart. Its comforting unpredictability helps me get things done - from work to sleep.

    Even though it serves its purpose, it hardly surprises me - or any of my guests. I can't help but dream of a house all my own, where I can try to make the impossible possible. I want a canvas that I can turn into a home, where I'm the boss. I'll entertain my way - with the menu I choose -- and keep the espresso cups and silverware where I think they belong. Art - from children's drawings to family photos - will cover my walls in a chic and sensible way. When something is deemed ready for the trash, it will go there for I will not pick up my parents' pack-rat ways.

    One thing is certain if I ever get my chance. Italy will be my muse. And it can be yours, too. Here are some styles I've discovered while dreaming on the Internet or viewing the slew of home shows invading our televisions daily:

    Italian country -- This is the Italian home décor with which most Americans are accustomed. You'll find it on the pages of furniture and home goods catalogues including Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. Tuscany is usually the inspiration for patterns and colors that you'll find on everything from walls to tablecloths. You'll get the idea by looking at Villa Paradiso, a Web site for which I can not vouch because I've never used it but features “Tuscan-style” products for the home.

    If this is the look you're going for, then your palette should be earth tones. Think sage or olive green, rusty oranges, and natural beiges. For flooring, you might consider terracotta-like tiles or natural wood tones. Antiques or aged furniture is all that fits in this kind of room. Your accessories would feature a bouquet of wild flowers in a Mason jar, wine in an unsophisticated pitcher and glass next to a bunch of grapes, or anything with a rooster on it. When in Italy, you might want to pick up some of the simple white linens that your Nonna had in her trousseau because they'd be the perfect nod to the past in your new old home.

    Italian contemporary -- Those who prefer the crisp, clean lines of modern design can draw their inspiration from the Italian apartments they might find in Milan. Neutral shades on the wall set the stage for bright, vibrant colors in the linens and accessories. Think lime green, bright orange, and deep royal blue. You want the place to give off a hip vibe, like a modern art gallery.

    To achieve this look, pick furniture that is understated and simple in design but add color through vases, throw pillows, and art. You might paint sheets of paper in one vibrant color each, frame them individually in square frames, and then hang them in the shape of a box on the wall. Other accessories might include a bouquet of white calla lilies in a clear cylinder vase, white square dishes, or green apples in a dark wooden bowl with no detail. When in Italy, consider picking up something like a sleek chair in candy apple red, which would make your room pop.

    Italian island -- The look that most appeals to me, an Italian island home is one that allows for seamless flow between the indoors and outdoors. There are lots of windows and French doors and there are live plants in the bedroom and the garden. They draw inspiration from the nearby beach and make dwellers feel like they are always on vacation.

    The exterior of these houses are often a pastel blue, pink, yellow, or orange if not white. The interior is drenched in sunlight, which is why most people opt for shutters (closed only just before bedtime and promptly opened when you awake) and gauzy, sheer drapes. Tiles are used everywhere - as flooring, walls in the bathroom, and even just plain decoration. The interiors are painted in buttery yellows or sky blues. Accessories include sea glass mosaics, garden bouquets featuring roses, chamomile, and decorative grass, and outdoor furniture for the terrace that is as pretty as anything you'd put inside. When in Italy, you could search for the perfect hand-painted pottery or even just seashells from the beach that could live on an end table or in a vase on display when you return home.

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