Mediterranean Salon Mediterranean Salon

Q: I am opening a salon in Northern Florida. I would like for my style to be Mediterranean with some tropical elements thrown in, and I want it to be very soothing and relaxing. Can you tell me what kinds of colors, fabrics, furniture and flooring I should look for?

A: You certainly chose the right style for relaxation: a Mediterranean style evokes long sun-drenched days poolside, nibbling on olives and drinking Italian wine, and that's enough to make even this anxious decorator calm down a bit.

And the style you're after isn't all that difficult to achieve, once you have the basics down. You may want to start by browsing through photo books of Mediterranean villages to get the look you want firmly in mind before you move on to books on decorating.

In photos of the Mediterranean, you'll find simple lines, blocks of bright colors, and lots of natural fabrics and materials - therefore, these are the elements you'll use when you start designing the salon.

It will also work to your advantage that you're in Florida, where the weather is warm enough to create the outdoors-inside feeling of Mediterranean design. Ideally, you would have some portion of the salon outdoors, even if it's a sheltered entryway with a floor tiled in quarry tiles.

But you can give this outdoorsy feeling also by having a window created in an interior wall. It doesn't need to be big, but it should have an arched top for the full effect. Use the shelf created by the window for an orchid or another tropical plant.

Remember too that Mediterranean style often uses a combination of shapes, so that you might have an arched doorway that brings the visitor into the room, and then have a very angular cabinet inside.

For the flooring, simple tiles will work best. You can use plain brick-red quarry tile, which will be the least expensive tile to use, or you can choose from a tile store's wide palette of colors. Just make sure the colors you choose fit with the bold hues of your design.

Or, you could have sanded, painted floors. This can also give the same effect as tile flooring, sometimes at a fraction of the cost. Decorate the floor with rugs in either sisal or woven cotton.

For lighting, first of all rely as much as possible on natural light. If practical, and within your budget, widen the windows and get in as much sunlight as you can. If you still need ambient lighting, use softer, warmer bulbs, even perhaps slightly tinted in orange or yellow. For task lighting, use a simple lamp with long neck that you can direct where you want it, or use track lighting that you can adjust.

In terms of what fabrics to use, stay with the bold, solid colors. You can mix and match these more than you might think: a bright indigo and a mango and a peach will all work together perfectly. Remember to offset the bright colors with an occasional splash of white.

For furniture, I'd choose white or natural wicker - which has the advantage of being inexpensive. Cover the cushions in a bold solid fabric, or choose a fabric with a pattern of palm trees or fruits.

Paint the walls in the same bright colors you use for the fabrics, and soon your salon will be just as beautiful as the customers as they exit.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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