A guide to understanding Decorating Styles

Decorating Styles: Classical, Mediterranean, Victorian,  Country Cottage,

Traditional, Contemporary, Retro, Eclectic, Rustic, Ethnic;

Originated in Ancient Rome (Italy) and Greece, inspired by the Etruscans and later used a specific style, later defined as Byzantine OR Baroque style used for elaborate buildings, like palaces, temples, the courts and educational institutions. Use of Natural Materials like Marble, Alabaster, Travertine and sandstone to construct buildings. Architecture was calculated, balanced and symmetrical and was intended to immortalize the beauty and perfection of nature. Use of tall pillars with well finished, decorative end caps. Decorative elements were highly detailed, intricate and ornate imitating floral patterns and designs, symbolizing the ancient society's desire for perfection. Francis Ching described Baroque architecture as "a style of architecture originating in Italy in the early 17th century and variously prevalent in Europe and the New World for a century and a half, characterized by free and sculptural use of the classical orders and ornament, dynamic opposition and interpenetration of spaces, and the dramatic combined effects of architecture, sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts. Use of soft natural neutral colours like cream, beige, ivory - the colours of the natural stone used and because of this, is classified as a timeless style that continues to be used to decorate private residences as well as places of commerce, trade and education. Classical architects and artists tried to make their masterpieces as realistic as possible - Le Corbusier, an architect of the time said that bringing materials together to erect a structure is building, making it beautiful is architecture.


 The MEDITTERANEAN STYLE is a coastal style mostly associated with Morocco, Greece, Spain and Italy. It’s characterized by the Stucco plastering technique on exterior walls, open floor plans with high ceilings, large outdoor spaces for entertaining – and landscaped gardens. These houses are designed to allow a free flow of air and sea breezes through the house as the climate where these houses are found are typically coastal and humid. The Mediterranean colour scheme reflects the sand, sea and sky with soft, yet bright pastel colours and white as a neutral. The furniture is usually heavy dark wood, wrought Iron is synonymous with this style so accessories like the Juno and Anabella sets work very well. The Barro Casablanca Border and corner as well as our unglazed Organic Earth terracotta tiles and some of our new Spanish tiles like the Terra and Terra Nova are tiles that lend themselves to the Mediterranean look and feel.


The Shabby Chic decorating style was started in Great Britain by artisans and middle working class individuals who replicated the wealth and opulence of the Baroque Style often used in the homes of rich and important people in society. The Country Cottage Style also draws on Antique French and English Cottage influence and made use of various furnishings from older time periods. The aim of the style was to create an overall elegant effect. "Signature" characteristics that are easily identified in the shabby Chic decorating style are : the use of soft neutral colours like white, ivory and beige as well as soft pastel colours like rose pink, sky and “duck-egg” blue; heavily painted and distressed furniture made to appear aged and like an antique, lace, floral fabrics, flower swags, garlands and cherubs inspired by old the French Style of decorating, antiques and vintage accessories, Rocco style wall paper, light fixtures, decorative wall panels, ornamental decorations as well as patchwork quilting for bed coverings. 


 Victorian Style drew on several antique style influences as it attempted to define itself and originated during the latter reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. Some of the influences of the Victorian Style are Anglo Japanese, Gothic Revival, Neo Classicism as well as Turkish and Persian Influence with their rich and exotic colours and highly detailed tapestries, collectables, fabrics and rugs. Use of Colour in the Victorian Style was largely focused on the use of tertiary colours and based on the importance of the room in relation to practical considerations like oil and soot from fires and cooking. Lighter colours were often applied to rooms where there was minimal exposure to dirt. Victorian Interior design can be classified by COLOUR, PATTERN, OPPULENCE and ROMANCE. Characteristic features in a Victorian Style House are elaborate furniture ranging from large to small with detailed carpentry, ornate decorations, china(crockery), lace, sculptural busts, souvenirs, framed paintings or prints, multi-layered curtains and drapes, rich patterned fabrics, many ornaments and stain glass windows, Persian Carpets, decorative wall panels and wall paper.



Traditional Style in our Industry makes reference to the TRADITIONAL or ORIGINAL way of applying tiles and décor. Traditional style décor portrays  everyday imagery, like flowers, tea pots, cups and kettles, fruit and vegetables, roosters, marine life, mixing bowls and is most times associated with an “old school”  kitchen,  using  listelli and their matching spotters. The benefits of choosing the traditional style, is that it is very informal. It’s warm, it’s homely. It’s comfortable and it’s the kind of place where you can kick off your shoes and curl up on the couch and settle down to watch television. It’s reminiscent of our grandmother’s kitchens with the smell of freshly baked bread and memories to warm the heart. It’s a relaxed, comfortable family kind of home and this is what traditional style really implies. This, type of tiling is not only restricted to the kitchen area, but used in bathrooms as well. Typical examples of the traditional style are the Rooster Listello, the Kudla listello, the Atlantis listello, the Magnolia 4 tile panels, spotter and listello, the Columbus and Melissa 2 tile panels and listelli.


 Originated from Bauhaus architectural design where there was a drastic Minimization of

LINE, COLOUR, ANGLE and the ABSENCE of Classical decorative elements. Double Volume Spaces, Pivot Walls and the glass "window wall" and larger areas and formats for decorative elements (like tiles) were all characteristic of Bauhaus architecture and Design. Truth to Material : each material; glass, wood, steel, cement was used for its own inherent qualities and unlike the classical style, it did not try and mould natural materials and man-made materials into a "pleasing" or satisfying organic and realistic form. Straight, geometric lines and "technological" patterns, as well as high gloss stainless steel and aluminium can be found in this style. There are 3 Kinds of Modern Interior Design: Modern FUNKY, Modern HITECH and Modern MINIMAL Designs. Modernist Painters who adopted the same qualities of SIMPLIFIED and MINIMAL or ÄBSTARCT" techniques were Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko.


 The Eclectic Style can be described as a blended style of HARMONIES. It thoughtfully and tastefully brings together various styles into a unique and creative look. This style relies largely on paying close attention to the 5 principles of design, as it is not confined to a single historical period and therefore, is recognized more for its HARMONIUS combinations than its belonging to any one of the various styles that makes up the final product.


 The retro style is a culturally out dated or aged style or trend, stemming from Post Modern influences during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. This is a style in which Modern ideas are applied to older objects - namely furniture and ornamentation as well as spaces that have a vintage of 15 to 20 years. Iconic art synonymous with this style is that from mass media and pop-art, like the old black and white images of Marilyn Munroe, James Dean and Elvis. Bold, psychedelic patterned wallpaper was very popular during the 60’s and 70’s and has made a re-entry into Modern-Retro Style.

A good example of Retro style that we have in store is the Giorgio cabernet. The underlying structure and frame of the cabernet is Classical Victorian, but the high gloss chrome finish embodies the essence of modern futuristic design. In as much as the colours of the Rococo Wallpaper Effect Tile are fitting of the Shabby Chic/Cottage Style – psychedelic, abstractrepetitive pattern wallpaper was used quite liberally during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and is definitely is a signature feature of the Retro design.


 The Rustic Style in tiles is identified by the raw, rough, matt textured tiles resembling natural stone, sand and rock. Our exclusive Kilimanjaro range can be classified as RUSTIC. The colours that are associated with this style are rich, relatively neutral Earth tones that are warm and inviting, beckoning the mind and body to a place of calm and tranquil rejuvenation in the African landscape. Rock and stone are not the only textures that can be found in this style. Natural wood is also a feature of this style and is a beautiful new textural


 Ethnic in a design sense means cultural heritage. Every country has its own cultural heritage and you can look at designs and patterns and probably very quickly identify an ethnic style. Indian ethnic design is easy to identify as well as South American or Peruvian. In South Africa we have our own ethnic design. Some styles use beadwork, basketwork and batik paintings. Some African art works that can be incorporated into interior design are taken from the forms around us every day. Animal prints, drums, mask and even grasses and leaves. All these can be incorporated into the ethnic design. The ethnic style is the only style that is dictated by or reliant on the décor used to create the style.

Examples are the Ithaca Border and Tozzetto, Bushy trails w/jet floor border,

Cheetah/Elephant and Rhino Spotters and Borders can all be used with a variety of different tile designs and shades and the final result will be an ethnic look. The advantage of using ethic style in our designs is that is t is also timeless. It is not subjected to trends and fads. The patterns, styles and grasses have been with us forever. It epitomizes our African heritage.