About Old World, French Country, and Tuscan Home Decor

The term Old World decor indicates a range of early styles, including the Tudor and Elizabethan styles, which have a heavy, dark mystique. Later styles simulate an Old World look via rustic details; the Spanish Revival style provides an example. Some Old World decor is formal and ornate; whereas, the Tuscan and French Country styles are casual and simple, featuring timeworn, antiqued walls and farmhouse versions of traditional French and Italian furniture. The palette of Old World decor varies from style to style, ranging from dark hues to earth tones to light patterns.

Old World Tudor and Elizabethan

Old World decor includes Tudor and Elizabethan styles. Dark, paneled walls and chunky, dark furniture with carved details prevail. The Tudor style is more rustic. Beamed ceilings are common, especially in kitchens, and antiqued walls contribute to the timeworn quality.

Elizabethan Old World style is more formal than rustic, featuring dark wainscoting, carved relief-work, straight-back chairs, scrolled details and fabrics that are heavy and intricate. The palette is typically dark, ranging from deep reds and olives to a range of subdued neutrals.

Design Components

  • Beamed kitchen ceilings
  • Walls with dark wainscoting
  • Tall, bulky, straight-back chairs
  • Long, dark trestle tables
  • A palette of dark jewel tones and neutrals
  • Intricate fabrics, like damask

French Country

In contrast with darker Old World styles, French Country style is light and airy. Furniture echoes traditional court designs, but the detailing is simpler and informal, with light, painted and distressed furniture finishes conveying a sense of age.

Textured walls and exposed ceiling beams contribute to the farmhouse feel, as do light colors, such as ivory, yellow and blue. Playful patterns adorn chairs and window treatments; gingham and toile patterns add to the range of fresh accents.

Design Components

  • Beamed ceilings
  • Distressed, light furniture
  • Textured, antiqued walls
  • Whimsical accents
  • Creams, blues, yellows and pastels
  • Bright, cheerful fabrics


The Tuscan style is rustic, featuring weathered and distressed furniture finishes and the exposed beams of provincial farmhouses.Walls with textured treatments in rustic stucco or Venetian plaster display a range of earthen hues -- from natural umbers and ochres to warm siennas.

Fixtures are often bronze with aged patinas. Flooring in distressed wood or slate coordinates. Natural hues, such as sage and russet, brighten the neutral Tuscan palette, but fabrics are plain or feature simple motifs that accord with the casual look.

Design components

  • Ceiling beams
  • Distressed furniture
  • Textured and antiqued walls
  • Fixtures in simple, aged bronze
  • Palette of ochres and sienna
  • Simple fabrics

Old World Spanish

Though the Spanish Revival style originated in the 20th century, homes simulate an Old World look, with stuccoed walls and beamed ceilings, evoking the feel of a Spanish hacienda. Furniture is heavy, dark and carved, and chairs in distressed leather link with other textured decor elements.

Spanish Revival accents are rustic and dark; chandeliers and balusters in wrought iron provide finishing touches. The Spanish Old World palette of earthen neutrals includes tan, adobe and espresso, but it's enlivened by colorful, tiled mosaics on stair-risers and back splashes.

Design Components

  • Beamed ceilings
  • Stuccoed walls
  • Dark, distressed furniture
  • Wrought-iron accents
  • Palette of earth tone
  • Mosaic tiles