Influenced by Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, Moroccan and Greek seaside lifestyles, Mediterranean décor is simple and relaxed, and easily adapted to Western homes.
The natural hues of the region - marine, almond, olive, sunshine and chalk - frame the palette. In furnishings, the style's ethnic, often rustic, origins tend to dominate. But modernist interpretations - think of Riviera yachts and summer homes, for example - are just as popular.
With quaint fishing and farming villages as well as glamorous seaside playgrounds, the region is one of contrasts. The colors and graphic motifs are overtly handmade, or bold and clean, so if you're more contemporary than traditional, you'll still be able to incorporate elements of this quintessential summer style.
Designer David Stark loves the style for its painterly origins.
"For me, the Mediterranean's synonymous with the light captured by Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh," he says. In his summer collection for West Elm, Stark has returned to his roots as a painter. "I'm lassoing materials from the painting studio to create tableware and décor reflective of my personal artistic fantasy of the region."
He's done an easy, sophisticated collection that includes tilework-patterned lacquer trays, and white dinnerware swabbed with a stroke of azure blue. Find here also rustic cobalt glassware reminiscent of a little cafe on the Greek coast, and some gorgeous ceramics with a canvas texture.
Re-create the look of beautiful Mediterranean tiles with Walldressedup.com's set of wall transfers. They'd be a great way to add the theme to a kitchen or entry way. Throw down a blue-and-white-striped cotton rug; fill a rustic blown-glass jug with yellow daisies.
At Ballard Designs, hand-blown glass is encased in wrought iron swirls to create the Marrakech Onion Bulb pendant fixture. The Sevilla Rug re-creates antique Mediterranean-tile mosaics in soft, 100 percent wool. And if you're crafty, consider buying a few yards of the Delray Azure fabric, printed in a crisp navy-and-white graphic motif, to make curtains, pillow covers or tablecloths.
Martha Stewart has designed the Miramar wrought-iron side table, which could work indoors or out, and her good-looking, blue-enameled trivet would be a useful addition to an outdoor table.
Frontgate's has a large and lovely mustard-hued terra cotta urn embellished with pomegranates. It's an investment, but if you can swing it you'll have something wonderful for years to come.
Otherwise, search off-price stores for alternatives.
Crate & Barrel offers a side table in white or blue that features a tilework motif in laser-cut steel. If you're nowhere near an olive grove, but would like to create some Mediterranean atmosphere, consider the olive wreath, a handcrafted circle of paper and polyfoam botanicals. Six artisanal, Greek Isles iron candlesticks make a striking grouping.
It's a laid-back look, but it can also be quite sophisticated.