European Home Decor Ideas

Do you want your home to look more like what you see when you visit another country? You may think every place looks the same but when you travel outside the US you can really see there are drastic differences.

I enjoy traveling because it’s a good way to see different home styles and how people live in other countries. Every time I travel outside the United States I’m shocked at how differently we live in America, and I come home feeling happy and lucky to have so much living space. I also come home inspired by some of the ways that people live in much smaller, more simple spaces when compared to American families.

So here are some of my favorite design styles from the European countries I have had the pleasure of visiting. I would love to incorporate some of these classic European interior design styles in my own home.

Pocket and Top Pivot Doors

Doors can take up a lot of space in a room. I know because I’ve got 4 doors in my bedroom alone. Modern European design has mastered how to minimize doors and make them more invisible.

We had a bathroom in Germany that had three doors but each was basically invisible because it was a panel that rotated. Each panel/door was hinged at the top in the center. Each door swung into the bathroom and into the room, halfway. What a great way to maximize space! You don’t see these in American homes very often, but what a smart idea. This way instead of swinging 30-36″ into a room, it would only take up half the space.

Minimal Bathroom Counter Space

In the US we are so used to large bathrooms with cabinets and lots of counter space. Bathrooms are a prime example of how European homes differ from their American counterparts. Bathrooms in Europe are generally much smaller and they use the space very differently. They are very minimalist. Even the smallest bathrooms have a separate bidet, but they rarely have a vanity with storage.

By necessity, you are forced not to put things on the countertop because there isn’t one. Would this work at home? I would like to think it could. We recently moved into a new home and went from a large bathroom to a small one with only one sink. It’s amazing how we aren’t missing all of the stuff we stored that we really didn’t use.

Large Floor to Ceiling Curtains

We could learn a thing or two from Europe about how to cover a window. First, they often have exterior window treatments that go down electronically. This is a game changer in keeping light out. The room is totally dark, no light seeps in around the curtains.

Inside the rooms, they also have over-the-top curtains made with luxurious materials and European flair. Most of the curtains hang directly from the high ceilings. They are pinch-pleat curtains set into a rail in the ceiling. The volume of fabric really gives the room a luxurious look.

Unique and Small Accent Lighting

One of the hotels we stayed in had a desk lamp on the check-in counter that was four feet tall. The base and shade were both about two feet tall, but inside was this tiny little bulb. The lamp was more of a sculpture than lighting, but it made a statement.

Even the wall sconces over the bed were classic European design of gold with crystals.

Simple Bedding and Individual Duvet Covers

The beds in Europe have almost all the same bedding. They have white sheets, white pillows, and a white duvet, a very classic style. They don’t use top sheets even on a king bed, they have two twin duvets. Each person gets their own duvet. If they have color, it is in the form of a throw blanket folded at the bottom of the bed.

Velvet Upholstery Cushions

Velvet is a very formal fabric to use in furniture design. The one in the picture was in our hotel room and the cushions are a different fabric from the base and the back of the couch. The base of the sofa is linen. It’s a modern, trendy take on velvet and you could easily switch out the top pillows and throw pillows with the seasons.

Wool Oriental Rugs Everywhere

Every hotel we went to in Europe had many oriental rugs on the floor. Many of these rugs are in the lobby and the most high-traffic areas. They last forever and look almost better with more wear. They are expensive, but I think rugs are one place worth spending more. You can read about where I think it’s worth splurging on rugs here.

Modern graphic Accent chairs

Another of the home decor trends I noticed in Europe is adding a modern twist alongside antique furniture. Even in the most traditional settings, we saw modern graphic accent chairs. These chairs also have different fabrics on the back and the front. I also noticed lots of bright colors, not just neutral colors. This room had a primary color scheme of bright yellow.

Plants Any Place They Will Fit

Yards and empty land can be a rarity in larger European towns. This doesn’t mean they go without plants. They manage to put potted plants in every place they can squeeze them in. I saw a doorstep where the owner managed to grow peppers, rosemary, and tomatoes on their two steps. Plus they squeezed in a lantern. They know a thing or two about maximizing small outdoor spaces.

How to get European Style

When you travel do you notice how people in other countries decorate their homes? I always find myself wondering what it would be like to live wherever I’m visiting. I also come home with some unique ideas for things to try in my home. The good news is you can implement a few simple design ideas to bring old world charm into your family home.

European home decor ideas

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One Comment

  1. Such great ideas Andrea – I’m definitely going to try the drapes-from-the-ceiling one! Thanks for all the sophisticated European tips!

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