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In which I "detuscify" or more clearly...blog about "De-Tuscanizing"

Now that I have your attention, I must add that this post is sure to offend some, and perhaps many.

Don't get me wrong I love Tuscan style, meaning in the style of the Tuscan region of Italy. I do not love the phenomenon generally referred to as Tuscan style that has been regurgitated ad nauseam all over central Texas for about the last 15 years.

What started in the mid nineties, as an Italian countryside influence quickly became an obsession for all too many in the design and building community. By the year 2000, I would guess 90% of the new homes were Tuscan "inspired" design, and it seemed every new client wanted Tuscan style interiors. Every wall was glazed, and mouldings were fauxed stone, or a warm French walnut color. Cabinets were fruit wood stained, or medium walnut, knotty alder, or cherry, some were painted, dry brushed, and antiqued in every contrived application possible. (Note that I also love faux work and trompe l'oeil when used with restraint and and a keen eye for appropriate application)

Certainly a cash cow, for this was what the buyers demanded, every house began to look the same. Parade homes and showcases of 5 -6 properties became one huge single house, as you couldn't tell where one ended and the next began.

Admittedly, I designed my share of "Tuscan style" rooms and homes, but I always insisted that they reveal something about the client, and not be just another "showroom" look. I preferred to add influences or touches of styles and or movements as they are always welcome. Antiques were essential, and other found pieces intermixed with new purchased items.

At last it seems we have come to a new era...in design that is. Gone is the need for autumn color palettes, severely over sized furniture, and rooms so full you can't navigate them without losing your balance. Perhaps in response to the economic downturn, a more tailored, simple, even minimalist approach has spread throughout the rank and file of designer, builder, and most importantly client.

We are now seeing what are being termed "De- Tuscan" projects, where new colors, finishes, and textures are replacing the same- ol' same- ol'. Darker walnut colored stains, and blonde wood tones are replacing the medium walnut and fruit-wood colors. Clear flat paint accented with bright colors, or cooler spa colors with chocolate browns and even reds are taking over. Heavy chenille covered upholstery is being redone in lighter colors with accent pillows, and smaller scale furnishings are replacing oversized pieces. Multiple styles and infuences are being requested, and most notably mid-century modern elements are now de rigueur!

As we are at the forefront of this new trend, my de-tuscanizing projects are in the planning stages, or incomplete, but I have scanned the web and found some excellent examples of spaces that can easily be re imagined as previously "tuscanized", and I have provided hypothetical notes on how the changes were made.

In order to redeem myself from the die hard Tuscan fans, and those clients whose homes I have designed in the style, I thought I might begin with one of my favorite "Tuscan Style" rooms from my own portfolio, and the 2002 Women's Symphony League of Austin's Designer Showhouse.



The above bedroom photo represents what I believed to be Tuscan inspired style. It reminds me of what I experienced while traveling in Italy, spaces that had history, or implied history...a story to tell. A collection of found pieces, gifts, or inheritance...comfortably, naturally together. Although this space was designed for a Symphony Showhouse, the only new furniture and furnishing pieces are the bed custom made for the room by Durham Trade and Design, and the mirror chest from John Edward Hughes. All other pieces are antiques from Negrel Antiques, and Jean Marc Frey Antiques here in Austin. Drapery and bedding custom for the space.



Ashford Associates mediterranean staircase
mediterranean staircase design by san francisco architect Ashford Associates

It would be easy to imagine this space with multi brown tone glazed walls, large heavy tapestries on the upper walls, and floor to ceiling chenille drapery panels with swag tops and buillion fringe. Here we feel the crisp open feeling of negative space, illuminated by natural light, and halogen rope lighting.



Two Story Family Room eclectic family room
eclectic family room design by philadelphia interior designer Barbara Pettinella

Here simple color changes in bright accents create a fresh update to what might easily have been a glazed wall in neutral colors.


Atherton Residence mediterranean living room
mediterranean living room design by san francisco interior designer Amoroso Design

I particularly like the way this space retains what might have been an original medium-dark stained mantle and beams, but lightened the builtin cabinet. Off white walls, and ceiling, lighter fabric print draperies, more tailored and modern furniture complete the process.


Living room mediterranean living room
mediterranean living room design by san francisco interior designer Jacobs Design, Inc.

This is simply stunning! I cannot wait to find a Costa Bella, or other Lake Travis or Lake Austin De -Tuscan job to implement this look. Can you imagine looking past this monochromatic palette through the windows to the crystal blue water on the lake? Cool...even at 100 degrees in the shade~


Meditrranean Villa mediterranean kitchen
mediterranean kitchen design by boston architect DSA Architects

Again here, I feel this could have had heavy glazing, and over accessorizing...
where now we see a tailored study in light and dark, rythym, and texture.


CANDELARIA mediterranean living room

Here the scale of the furniture feels fresher, and less overstuffed. And somehow the level of intimacy is acually increased.


Living Room contemporary living room
contemporary living room design by san francisco general contractor Harrell Remodeling

Beautiful use of a spa color palette.
Simple restrained elegance, windows naked to the world....
someone should be ashamed....Ashamed that we don't see more of this look!!



Maybeck Home Living Room contemporary living room
contemporary living room design by san francisco interior designer Michael Merrill Design Studio, Inc

Even a wood paneled space can be de-tuscanized
with more tailored window treatments, and modern or contemporary furnishings.


Effervescent contemporary living room
contemporary living room design by chicago interior designer Habitar Design, Inc

Yes I do believe this space needs artwork, however I love how the crystal bubble
chandelier creates shadows on the walls. This room could be a redesigned version of many Tuscan styled media rooms.
Complete with arched recessed wall space, where the media cabinet once lived.


So now I am off my soapbox... My need to testify about the subject (hence...detuscify) quelled for a time....I do hope you will take a moment to comment... agree or disagree...as you will...discussion is essential... and thank you for reading this post!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos. I think it takes more thought to create a well-edited space than one chock full of stuff.

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  2. Oh gosh, deliver me from overkill! I'm so glad decorative tastes are trending to simpler, softer styles and cleaner, less gaudy lines. Great post!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment Christine! It seems no matter what realm we look at things always tend to excess then decline!

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