Your living room is the focal point of your home. It’s the area in which you entertain guests, or relax with your family, It can even be a multifunctional space in which you conduct your business. Irrespective of the use, the living room should be inviting, exuding a relaxed ambience. Furthermore, the space should reflect something of yourself and your own culture. However, this does not mean that you can’t use design elements from other styles. For instance, if you wish to create a relaxed, yet elegant space, you could adopt elements of the Mediterranean style into your modern living room, so that it exudes a casual air, while remaining stylish.
The Mediterranean style can work well in Malaysia’s warm and humid tropical climate. However, to be practical, keep the space well ventilated and cool. Adopting a Mediterranean influence will help to ensure the room is informal. This style is in essence, very simple.
To start your design inspiration, you might have a painting bought on a trip to Santorini, or a handmade rug from Morocco. Either way, the colours in these pieces could form the basis of your colour palate, ultimately directing the end you have in mind – be it a more rustic and earthy feel, or incorporating swathes of blues and crisp white.
When decorating a Mediterranean living room, opt for an uncluttered feel. Start by anchoring the room with a rug. This rug could offer inspiration, having vivid red tones. It may even be simply a modern design that works with your colour scheme. Nonetheless, use the rug on which to place your sofa and armchairs. The fabric of the seating should be of a high thread count, particularly if it will be used to sit on while viewing television or lounging. A good tip is to speak to a professional about the fabric best suited to your needs, thereby saving you money in the long run.
With an eye on the Malaysian climate, and furniture that is easily available, you could use wicker or rattan occasional chairs, enhancing the informality and comfort of the room. Wicker will work well with a Mediterranean style, which itself is more rustic than formal. Add scatter cushions of accented colours in natural fabrics such as linen or cotton to draw your colour scheme together.
Do include a coffee table. You can select a wrought-iron table with a glass top, or an upholstered ottoman, or even a wooden trunk. To make a unique statement, consider investing in an antique piece or have one custom designed.
As the key element of Mediterranean designs is light, whether natural or artificial, do maximise this important element by not applying dark paint to walls of a small living room, or one that has weak natural light. That said, even with a modern living room you ought to keep the walls as clean as possible. Rather place your more strongly accented colours in your scatter cushions. Such accessories may more readily and cheaply be changed than wall paint.
If you do wish to add some drama to your room, you can consider a feature wall. One wall may be painted a cobalt blue by a professional; or you could have a professional plasterer to coat the wall with stucco, an iconic wall treatment in the Mediterranean. Another effective wall treatment is cladding the feature wall with stone, even adding a fireplace as a focal point. Not only will the stone hint at homes in Spain or France, but during the summer months in Malaysia the stone will be cool to the touch.
As the Malaysian climate is humid, wall-to-wall carpets might not be the best floor covering. Rather opt for tiles or wooden floors. A ceramic tile 30 cm by 30 cm, will cost around RM1.80, and a porcelain tile about RM2. However, you could also use solid wood flooring such as Kempas, which costs around RM 9-10 per square foot and is harder than maple.
As mentioned before, light, especially natural light, is one of the main elements of the Mediterranean design. Therefore, keep the window treatments as simple as possible. Add sheer curtains so that natural light may flood the room. Block-out or thickly lined curtains are simply not suitable for this look. If it is not always possible to have plenty of natural light in the room, you may need to add artificial light in the form of downlights. In addition, you could include a central light feature in wrought iron, or an understated crystal chandelier to add light to the room.
If you have brought any decorative items back from a trip to a Mediterranean country or countries, these should be displayed as special features. Otherwise, woven rattan baskets may be used to store magazines; or a colourful blanket may be used as a throw. A note of caution: cluttering will detract from the desired impression.
The addition of plants in the room is a good idea. These may be potted in Moroccan-type pots or simple terracotta pots to give that special semblance of the Mediterranean. Plants will also purify the air and lessen the effects of the hot, humid, Malaysian weather.