Timeless Italian styling – living la dolce vita

Over the centuries, Italy has often been associated with arts and style, and interior design that can be ornate and luxuriously detailed. But following the Second World War, modernist Italian interior design aesthetics also became globally recognised, largely due to a spate of famous Italian movies in the 50s and 60s. Cinematic classics such as Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte helped make Italian décor, and living, synonymous with elegance and sophistication.

In reality, Italian design is all over the style map and that’s one of the reasons it is so revered. Regional variations may bring rustic, sleek or baroque (or some crazy blend of all three) qualities to Italian design heavy living areas. But there is something about the scale and spirit of Italian rooms that make them both enviable and distinctive.

Over the past five decades, attention to innovative form and craftsmanship by design studios and manufacturers such as Castiglioni, Ettore Sottsass’ Memphis Group and Alessi has helped cement this tiny country’s oversize influence on global design trends – which continues to this day.

We’ve been out on a spending spree to get the look of la dolce vita and found some amazing pieces to build a striking interior design in the Italian style. First stop is the Italian collection at Heal’s. They recently hosted a celebration and showcase of 100 Years of all things Italian and have been supporting some very big name Italian designers for all that time.

Here we discovered several show-stopping pieces that could easily anchor an open concept loft space with high ceilings and lots of room to stretch out. If you don’t have the room or the budget for a whole makeover, one or two Italian pieces can really lift the look of your home to the luxury level.

Stylish sectional

Check out this sectional from the Italian designers Porada at Heal’s. Made of solid caneletta wood with bronzed brass feet and feather-filled cushions, each sofa is made to order. So covers could be muted and neutral (cream, light grey) or Tuscan sunny (terra cotta or lemon yellow) depending on which design direction you’re looking to embrace. £9,936


Marble on the side

You can’t claim to be leading the sweet life without a touch of marble in your room. This side table by Moroso at Heal’s nods to the quintessential Italian luxury material without being overbearing. The delicate tubing legs hold a petite slab of black or white carrera marble. Heights can be mixed and matched for maximum nesting. £564

Cedar wood

Another material mastered by Italian artisans over centuries of refinement is wood. Take your decor in a more rustic or contemporary direction with this sculptural scented cedar side table from Riva 1920. Machined from a single block of wood, this striking piece could also serve as a stool. Or just a conversation piece. £1109





Italian style is synonymous with great lighting, whether dramatically cinematic, or more naturally referencing Mediterranean sun and shade. Keep it simple with this elegant table-top black metal lamp from Habitat. £65 Or go for the real deal with this classic Arco floor lamp from Italian designer Achille Castiglioni – it’s an iconic mid century modern piece with a curving aluminium frame, domed shade and marble base. £1,604


Accessorise your little piece of Italian style heaven carefully, with sophisticated pieces made from excellent materials and a touch of whimsy. This “Barkhouse” vase from Alessi, those accessible purveyors of cheeky but elegant Italian designer homewares, is a perfect example. £129 Drape your sofa with a cosy mohair throw for just a touch of comfort. We love this version from Feather & Black in a soft and luxurious hazel green. £110 And finally, float a moon mirror over your stylish new Italian decor. Part of the Moroso Italian design collection at Heal’s, this photo-printed round mirror adds just the perfect note of contemporary surrealism to your space. £672

Walnut store

Stow dishes (or books for that matter) in this walnut cabinet from the Riva 1920 collection at Heal’s. Details like dovetail joints, grooved handles and wax finishing are expected touches in a hand-crafted piece from Italy’s woodworking masters. This is a heritage cabinet that can help anchor a large space – and it will last for many years. £8,539

Luxury, craftsmanship, elegant restraint and a subtle sense of humour – now that’s la dolce vita.

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  • Ellie lives in a village outside Oxford and works in fashion in London. She loves the vintage look, traditional English afternoon tea, prosecco and hiking in the Lake District.

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