De-Tuscanizing – Creating Brighter, Lighter Living Spaces

In the recent past, Naples was known for its Tuscan architectural styles and heavily ornamented interior designs. The extensive use of dark faux finishes, arched openings, curved lines, and heavy furnishings was the norm as architects, builders, and designers created their versions of an Italian villa. Over time, however, homebuyers have eschewed the palatial Tuscan style in favor of brighter, lighter, more livable spaces that convey a relaxed, casually elegant feeling.

“The shift away from the Tuscan style evolved between 2007 and 2010 when the economic crash brought new construction to a standstill,” said Vogue Interiors’ award-winning interior designer Leslie Gebert, Allied Member, ASID. “When builders resumed building in 2011, it was if the slate had been wiped clean. Buyers wanted something simpler. It was a fresh outlook on the way we could build here and the way people preferred to live. It became more casual and lighter, more in tune with Naples’ always-on-vacation vibe, more functional, but it was done with sophistication and taste. Whites came back into fashion. We saw a shift to simpler, straighter lines, and less cluttered, airier spaces. People began to take the heavier moldings off, and if they did do a crown molding, it was a simple cove molding with very little detail. The look became angular rather than curved. Elegance and beauty are found in the simplicity of today’s homes rather than in ornamentation.”

As evidenced by the light-filled, open concept floor plans that today’s homebuyers prefer, the movement away from the Tuscan style is on-going, both in new construction and in transformative remodeling projects. Great rooms that flow into large island kitchens and dining areas have in many cases supplanted the formal living and dining rooms of the past. Informal studies, bonus rooms, and upstairs loft areas offer additional places for unfettered relaxation. The color palettes, finishes, and furnishings in today’s interior designs present a new approach to creating visual interest.

“We create visual interest by contrasting dark and light,” said Gebert. “Reflective wall coverings, metallics, and pops of color found in accessories, accent pillows, and artwork play against white, beige, and soft grey backgrounds. Wood-look rectangular porcelain tile or wood flooring and textures found in area rugs, wood details, and fabrics add warmth and a relaxed feeling. Simple, flat, white kitchen cabinetry doors with angular hardware can be contrasted by darker-toned island base cabinets and the variety of solid colors available in the quartz countertops that have often replaced the Tuscan gold and brown-toned granite. The same is true in the bathrooms. Straight-lined contemporary lighting fixtures, rectangular porcelain and glass tile backsplashes and shower finishes provide an elongated look. On the outdoor living areas, streamlined ventless fireplaces often set in niches with horizontal wall details have replaced the heavy pre-cast concrete fireplaces of the past. Squared-off furniture pieces continue the casual look. That is what the new aesthetic is all about – casual, elegant comfort, simple straight lines, visually interesting contrasts, and an overriding sense of relaxed livability.”