Tuscan finishes recall the warmth of the Mediterranean region and the weathered charm of traditional, rural Italian dwellings. The look relies on a comfortably aged and textured appearance and a color palette of warm, earthy hues. It can be achieved by using Venetian plastering to introduce actual texture to walls, or by simulating textural effects with faux painting techniques. Faux painting is an economical way to reproduce the textured effect that is much favored by decorators.
The Tuscan Look
The traditional homes of Tuscany that have inspired the Tuscan look are simple, cozy dwellings in the countryside that have been home to generations of rural people. They seem to be an organic part of the landscape and evoke Mediterranean sunshine and the passage of time. The gentle, subtle colors are those of the surroundings, with materials sourced from the local area, and paints and plasters made and applied using time-honored methods.
Tuscan finishes are especially popular in kitchens and informal rooms and living spaces, including dining rooms and patios. Interior details include mosaics, tiling and decorative borders, often stenciled. The colors and designs have an equally organic and ethnic feel.
Mined for millennia, pigments known collectively as ‘ochres’ are the traditional basis of paints worldwide. Red ochre is simply iron ore, while other metal oxides are used for different color paints. These natural pigments, mixed with lime and other substances, lend paints an organic quality that is lacking in the commercial paints that we are accustomed to today.
Ochreous earth pigments are typically various shades of red, but they range from rust brown to burnt orange, and weathered yellow to purplish-maroon. Pinkish and peach-colored pigments occur naturally and other metal oxides provide black pigments. They can either be mixed to make paints or added to plaster to add subtle color.
Though these colors are the core of the Tuscan palette, other colors are also incorporated into the range. Muted blues and greens (shades of olive and sage) are also effective in recreating Tuscan finishes. The Tuscan look goes well with terracotta tiled floors.
Choosing Your Tuscan Palette
The natural colors in the Tuscan palette mix and match well, though there are further considerations. You can choose paints of different color intensity. Warmer colors may be required for a cold room and conversely, cooler colors for a bright, sunny space. Color washing requires a minimum of two colors, but further colors can be added to produce a more textured and varied effect.
Color washing is a versatile technique that can be used to create different moods. Paler colors can produce a dreamy feel, while darker colors can be warmer and more intense. Final details may include stenciled borders. Leafy designs or bunches of grapes are particularly fitting. Tiling in muted greens and blues adds extra color to a kitchen or patio. Mosaics – faux or real – are also in keeping with the Italian theme.