The warmth and colors of Tuscany provide endlessly appealing design themes for kitchen decor. But you don't need a pricey gut renovation to capture that Mediterranean ambiance. A few clever touches will transport you to Italy and a relaxed, sunny kitchen.
Up the Wall
Invest in a modest amount of beautiful Tuscan floral wallpaper to cover the area from cabinet tops to the ceiling and above the stove backsplash. Paint the lower part of the wall a soft shade picked up from the wallpaper -- a creamy yellow paint to go with a soft floral pattern in creamy yellow, greens, browns, muted red-orange and white.
For added impact, sponge the walls for faux texture to give the kitchen a more authentic Tuscan feel.
- Replace the hardware on kitchen drawers, cabinets and doors with brass and painted porcelain knobs, handles and pulls.
- Hunt for Tuscan designs on white ceramic in the same styles as those rustic jugs you brought back from your Tuscan vacation.
- Line the pitchers, plates or jugs on a shelf over the sink, or display them face-out on a bare expanse of wall.
- Painted tiles with felt or cork backing become decorative trivets on the counter next to the stove.
- Pick up more of the hardware patterns in dishtowels, potholders, and a row of tiny planters for herbs on the windowsill.
Touch of Tile
Mount a pre-made Tuscan tile backsplash panel -- a mosaic that forms a simple geometric design or a scene with fruits and flowers -- on the wall behind the stove. Add coordinating tile as the counter-to-cabinet backsplash in the work area, and mortar additional painted Tuscan tiles to the windowsill for a decorative ledge.
Repurpose back-to-back low dressers or cabinets as the base of a kitchen island; paint the connected cabinets intense teal, muted lime or burnt sienna, and top the base with a slab of discounted marble remnant. Rustic wood stools, stained or painted in Tuscan colors, are flexible seating that won't take up much room in a small space.
Replace upper kitchen cabinets on the sink wall with rough-hewn rustic wood open shelves, supported by wood corbels. Display glass pitchers, cooper pots, painted plates and terra-cotta utensil holders on the shelves, along with a big pepper mill and a handmade ceramic salt dish.
Light and Iron
Take down the standard ceiling light fixture and replace it with a simple wrought-iron pendant. Add more wrought iron with an obelisk tiered fruit stand on the counter and decorative rustic iron hooks on the wall that hold large wood cutting boards.