Decorating a Modern Mediterranean Kitchen

August 20, 2014

Burnt orange and lots of it may be what comes to mind when you think about Mediterranean kitchens. Tired, not trendy, may be your next thought. But hear us out! The now somewhat out-of-date Mediterranean revival look for the kitchen that was everywhere in the late 90s and early 2000s is back, transformed for a new crop of homeowners who love the Mediterranean but aren’t fans of all that dark wood and stifling burnt orange.

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Now if you do love the classic Mediterranean kitchen color and feel, own it. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just that we’re coming down from a Mediterranean high so all encompassing that putting it away for a few years will go a long way toward helping us remember what we originally liked about it. For us, there’s modern Mediterranean. It takes the old European traditions concerned with color, texture, and theme and incorporates more of today’s design sensibilities.

Curious to see how it’s done? These interiors have all of the richness and warmth of Mediterranean kitchen design, and are every bit as cozy and inviting, but are just a little more up-to-date.


This kitchen is all about the balance. There’s plenty of the classic standalone fixtures, wrought iron,  and warm wood that are a hallmark of the Mediterranean look but there is also plenty of very bright white in the form of the detailing on the appliances, the range hood, and the subway tile backsplash. This kitchen will probably never feel particularly stifling because of all that brightness – and the designer was smart to use white in all the places it would be most difficult to change because future updates will simply happen around it.


In this kitchen, we’re not seeing the same brightness but because the floor plan is so open the space feels bright and airy. The warm wood, dark details, and a touch of orange are all there but there’s nothing overpowering about any one element. The tan on the walls actually serves to make everything feel pleasantly neutral – which is a very good thing for homeowners looking to sell.

Mediterranean-Kitchen1Here’s an even more neutral example of a Mediterranean kitchen that incorporates details like a recessed cooking space and an island designed to look like a standalone piece has a muted color scheme. The dark details are few, but striking: the chair with its red brick-like top and the three hanging light fixtures. White interior paint strikes a balance between new and old. It’s not a kitchen that immediately says Mediterranean but the feel is there.

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In these two kitchens, the surprising addition of BLUE – used very differently in each – makes the spaces feel trendy white the nod to burnt orange in the form of the wall paint in the first and the gorgeous floor tiling in the second give the look definition. Sometimes small touches are all it takes to make a room feel finished and in harmony so if you like elements of the classic Mediterranean kitchen but not the look as a whole don’t be afraid to use what you love and discard the rest.


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Likewise, don’t be afraid to get colorful! Bright whites and very warm neutrals on the walls make a beautiful backdrop for a color palette that incorporates blues, yellows, and oranges (as in the second photo) or even bright pink (as in the first). Ultimately, it’s the character of the space and the chosen accents that will give it a Mediterranean feel without being overwhelmingly matchy.



See how even this space, which actually doesn’t incorporate much of the traditional Mediterranean elements nonetheless gets the look right thanks to a recessed cooking space with gorgeous curved tiling (and similarly curved doorway) and a few decorative accents?


Or this kitchen, which features almost none of the colors associated with the once-trendy Mediterranean kitchen but is certainly true the original in its utility, layout, and accents. Note the hanging pot rack, the recessed cooking area, and the curved window. It’s as homey as you could want (look at that door) and yet still very modern.



If updates to layout, walls and doorways, and other structural changes aren’t in your future for whatever reason you can still take this style of kitchen and make it your own with a few simple changes:

  • Opt for bright white on the walls if you’re going to incorporate color elsewhere or a warm neutral – perhaps one that pays homage to burnt orange as in the kitchen with the gorgeous blue tiling.
  • A tile focal point (like an arched backsplash) with a few pieces of Mediterranean decor can change the whole character of your kitchen.
  • Likewise, tile flooring in classic terra cotta can unify a space that has a lot of disparate design elements so it tends toward the Mediterranean. Can’t afford Saltillo? Brick works just as well.
  • Look for standalone wrought iron furnishings or wrought iron accents like a cool wine holder small enough for the counter top or a pot rack. Dark wood accents or a dark wood table can also stand in for exposed beams.
  • Finally, think curves. Mediterranean design is graceful in a big way. You may not be able to swap out your windows but look for accent pieces that mirror the style of arched recesses, windows, and doors.


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