Design Inspiration & Insights from Florence

If you receive my monthly newsletter, The Runway, then you’ll know that I recently spent a couple of weeks visiting family in my husband’s hometown in Italy. (If you don’t get my newsletter, you can sign up at the bottom of this page!) During our travels, we stopped in Rome, Pisa, Luca, Siena, Cinque Terre and my personal favourite: Florence. 

When I think of Florence, all I can say is WOW. I absolutely fell in love with this stunning city, from the architecture and history to the food and culture. Seeing thousand-year-old basilicas, sprawling museums, and ageless artwork was beyond inspiring. As I discovered something beautiful around each corner, I was reminded of the timelessness of great design — and that applies to our homes, too.

This month, I want to share these design insights with you through a quick and inspiring tour of Florence. Together, we’ll explore my favourite discoveries, along with some tips for embracing timeless yet fresh style in your own home. Let’s start with the big one…

Interior Architecture is Everything

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Interior architecture is defined as the physical structure of an interior. It blends art and space planning to create beautiful yet purposeful spaces. In our homes, this includes the footprint of each space, as well as the design of floors, walls, ceilings, countertops, and other elements that become part of the house itself.

Inside Florence’s most iconic buildings, the interior architecture is a true marvel. Regal, sky-high columns. Marble that has endured centuries of use and is still stunning. Intricate moulding that creates a sense of grandeur and draws the eye upward. These details demand to be noticed. Even the echo you hear when walking through these marble-lined spaces is intentional. It was designed to feel larger than life. 

Whenever I walk through a space like this, I always think to myself, “They just don’t make buildings like this anymore.” And if you ask me, that’s a shame. Artistry and purpose can and should come together to create livable beauty. When that marriage happens, that’s when you get structures that last hundreds of years, welcoming one generation after the next. 

Design Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to embrace interior architecture to create something timeless and spectacular. There are many design elements that have proven to endure the ages, such as marble and natural stone, millwork and custom wall details, and creating an ambiance that reflects the purpose of the space. (See more must-have design elements here.)

Iconic Doors Tell Us How to Make an Impression

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Speaking of grandeur, I am obsessed with the doors in Florence. Some stood out for their sheer size alone — tall and wide enough to admit a horse-drawn carriage…or modern-day cars. Others caught my eye with a splash of Mediterranean colour. The rest could be found with intricate carvings, metalwork, or unique iron door knockers. (If you are ever in Florence or Rome, keep an eye on the door knockers. There are so many surprising and whimsical designs!) 

My camera roll is full of doors, and it got me thinking, “What is it that makes these doors so intriguing?” Is it simply the novelty of seeing doors that are so different from what I’m used to, or is it the power of seeing something so old? Is it the mystery of what lies behind them? The promise of courtyard gardens, water fountains, and inhabitants hanging their clothes on the line? 

The answer, I think, depends on each of us. But one thing is certain… beautiful doors create an undeniable first impression. They tell us something about what lies within, set expectations, and establish a mood before someone even enters.

Design Takeaway: Florentine doors remind us to be thoughtful about the feeling our homes inspire in us, and that doesn’t just apply to our doors. How do you want to feel when you come home? Inspired? Relaxed? Energized? What colours and design details create those feelings for you? 

During our design process, we will help you answer these questions for each and every room in your home. That’s how you create a home that transcends physical space, making it part of a daily, elevated living experience. 

Patterns Create Tasteful & Timeless Interest

maria decotiis vancouver ca florence italy design inspiration three examples of beautiful tile work and colorful patterns

I’ve found that most people either love patterns or avoid them entirely. But in my experience, patterns are not inherently good or bad. It’s all about the application. They can absolutely be used tastefully and timelessly, if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t believe me, simply walk through Florence and keep an eye out for patterns, because they are everywhere! 

I saw patterns used most often in tile flooring, and there was no shortage of variety. From unique and colourful mosaics to more traditional shapes in monochrome, the options are limitless. Even the facade of the infamous Duomo is covered in unique patterns in green, pink, and white marble. 

Patterns also have a hidden skill: changing the way you perceive a space. Their composition can fool the eye into seeing what is not there, adding texture, depth, height, or length. The right pattern can literally transform a space.

Design Takeaway: If all-white kitchens fill your dreams, I won’t talk you out of it. But if you love timeless character and delightful details, patterns are a must. There are several places we can implement them to create a desired effect, such as a backsplash, flooring, furniture upholstery, window treatments, wallpaper, art, and more. Together, we’ll find the perfect balance of tasteful, refined, and timeless.

Quality Transcends Time

maria decotiis interior design inspiration from florence italy marble steps

If you only notice one thing in Italy, it’s probably how old everything is. And yet, with centuries of care, cities like Florence are still in incredible shape. You will find buildings going on one thousand years and staircases that have endured billions of feet. Even more modest buildings, like everyday people’s homes, are constructed with concrete, not wood.

High quality materials go far beyond their luxury appearance. They are simply better at withstanding the demands of daily life, the seasons, and time itself. Any parent knows this without needing to travel to Italy, but it becomes especially clear when surrounded by something so different.

This is the same reason I love haute couture. Yes, fashion houses are notorious for pieces that are timeless, sophisticated, and a little daring (which I love), but they are also made from high-quality materials. I can trust that my favourite Hermès bag is going to stay with me for years and years. I won’t need to replace it. 

Design Takeaway: The same is true for what you put in your home. Quality is always an investment, but it’s one that lasts, stylistically and financially. Marble, for example, is a high-priced natural stone that looks and feels timeless. But, as Italy has shown, it lasts for centuries. Marble develops a beautiful patina over time, making it perfect for kitchens, bathrooms, and floors. When we work together, I will be happy to recommend several materials that are known for their quality, beauty, and timelessness.

Well, that’s it for today, but I hope this little tour through Florence was as fun for you as it was for me! Now, I’m off to binge-watch Medici on Netflix. 

Ciao ciao, 


P.S. If you are considering a home renovation or new build, you can book a complimentary discovery call with me here. I’d be happy to discuss your project, share how we can help, and see if we’re a good fit. 

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