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How to Update your House From the Tuscan Brown Trend

By 04/02/2015February 4th, 201914 Comments

I was recently in a Mediterranean style home that had been built and decorated completely inside the Tuscan Brown Trend. Dark (pink beige & butterscotch) Travertine floors throughout the main floor, yellow/gold granite countertops, dark wood stained cabinets throughout, yellow walls everywhere and 8 bathrooms outfitted in very expensive finishes, most with conflicting colours in floors and countertops.

My client told me that she had thoroughly searched on-line, in vain, to find articles, posts, ANYTHING that would give her some direction to help her transition to a fresher, brighter look and away from the very dated interior she currently had.

She purchased the house for a really good price, it suited her soon-to-be extended family as it also had a guest house, a lovely, resort like pool, all these things made the house perfect, except for the decor.

I helped her choose a new colour scheme for furniture and wall colours that coordinated with her existing finishes, yet brought a breath of fresh air into her home.


Then while reading Leslie Sinclairs Segreto Style,  a gorgeous coffee table book filled with beautiful rooms and finishes applied by her company, it struck me that this was a book you could use as inspiration to help move your house from 2005 to 2015.

Here are some of my best tips:

Wall Colour

If you have any finishes in Travertine even if it’s very light, the primary undertone is pink beige. Yes you’ll find yellow and butterscotch tones in Travertine too but anyone who wants a more fresh look is interested in moving away from the yellow beige and gold beige tones that were so big in the brown trend.

Sometimes if grey grout has been used, you can pull a fresher, warm grey tone from there.

I asked Leslie how she handled going fresher with her colours and she confirmed she will often pull from the grout colours (see image below) to neutralize the walls and still have the tile relate. In order to achieve this with all the wonderful plaster finishes she uses, she will often mix a custom colour to get it just right.


Light Fixtures

Do you have some heavy, scrolly fixtures from this era? There are many examples on these pages of lighter more updated light fixtures that still work in this type of house.



If you have a house with finishes and furniture like millwork and case goods that are clearly Tuscan, your accessories should still have a Tuscan flair, just make them lighter and not as heavy so they don’t seem so dated. There are many examples in this book with before photos as well on some pages (below) so you can see how the look got fresher with colour and fabric changes.


Kitchen Cabinets

There’s lots of inspiration for transforming your brown, Tuscan kitchen and giving it a fresher look with paint colour. Leslie also mentions the paint colours wherever possible.



Decorative Paint Finishes

This is Leslie’s speciality and she knows how to choose and even custom mix the correct paint colours if necessary.


All decorative paint finishes by Segreto Finishes

To check out Leslie’s site, go here. You can buy her wonderful coffee table book here.

Related posts:

Why Homeowners Mix Styles that Don’t Work

Three Ways to Use Fresh To Sell Design

How to Inject Fresh into Your Earth Toned House

If you want your house to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door become a client. 

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  • How timely, I have a client whom wants a French Chateau look, with the travertine tile floor. This is great inspiration on how to work with this.
    Thank you!

  • Darlene says:

    I need and want to bring my kitchen into 2015 just like Leslie’s kitchen picture above. Now I just need to find a good cabinet painter!! Thank you also for the tip about using the grout to bring in a lighter color

  • megeranski says:

    Amazing! You never fail to amaze.

  • megeranski says:

    I am doing it. Am starting out with my landscape design business, have been wanting to for years, and you have given me courage. From studying with you, I can help not just with plantings and layout, but overall curb appeal, including selecting urns and containers that will pull all together (roof, concrete undertones) in to cohesive look.

    I have client now, with yellow house and brown roof. I have gotten somewhere in overall palette, but with this article, understand even more how to tone down the brown.

    Am going to suggest to my client, however, that they hire YOU to pick the front door color!!! (It is the only color they will be willing to update)

  • mrsben says:

    What fabulous transformations! Leslie’s book definitely sounds like a keeper. Thanks for the tip Maria. -Brenda-
    P.S: Re the Dining Room table. Where does one find such a table that comfortably seats fourteen people without having one custom made? LOVE IT …. ☺)

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    I never understood the Tuscan trend. Never cared for it. But it sure hung around for a looong time.

    • Janice says:

      I’m with you Mary. I keep expecting a knight to walk thru the door in the top pic 🙂 But I also never been a fan of ‘theme’ decorating.

    • bfish says:

      Ditto, Mary and Janice. If not doing a MAJOR overhaul of the Tuscan decor, the changes seem to me like lipstick on a pig. Okay, I know that’s harsh and every style has its advocates and detractors but Tuscan just seems like something destined to be a fad, not a keeper. It’s fine in a Mediterranean place but it doesn’t translate well to most places in North America.

  • Susan Ansley says:

    What is the color that has been used on the walls in this Mediterranean entry hall that now is beautifully transformed into an updated “on-trend” look?

  • Rebecca says:

    Kirsten from House of Jade Interiors did a great job updating an otherwise Tuscon Living Room! (I’m in no way affiliated with her, I just thought she did a great job!)

  • Sylva Leduc says:

    Five years ago we bought a home in the Phoenix area which had been completely remodeled in 2006 in the Tuscan style. It had dark, heavy window treatments with swags and lots of scroll light fixtures. The fireplace was in a dark brown faux finish, with canterra corbels and a massive 8′ tall Tuscan mirror. It felt like the mirror could fall off and crush us.

    My personal style preference is more contemporary, but in Arizona, Tuscan is still popular (even in new builds). Maybe it’s because of all the desert surroundings that people gravitate to the style.

    Anyway, the views and the beautiful stonework are what compelled us to buy the house. We wanted to make some changes without going through the expense of a complete remodel. Our home is now “Tuscan Transitional” as it was repainted throughout in a lighter color with a green undertone and the baseboards/doors were repainted in a lighter custom color. The rooms immediately felt brighter. I also removed the swags and replaced some of the light fixtures. I tried removing all the window treatments to capitalize on the views but something was needed to frame the windows, so replaced the draperies in the living room but changed other drapes to a more sheer linen. And instead of completely changing out the light fixture in the dining room, I updated by getting rid of the heavy glass bowl and replaced with a drum shade.

    While not a complete renovation, everything turned out great! We recently put our home on the market, there was lots of interest and we received an offer within one day.

    While not wanting to hijack this conversation, if anyone is interested in seeing the “finished product” you can view via the Zillow listing,

  • Sharon Savoy says:

    i think this is an easier transition with lighter floors- I’d love to see a designer address the same issue when a homeowner has deep tan travertine floors throughout and creme colored built-ins that look yellow if you go white or light.

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s right you can’t go lighter or whiter for that reason. More of the cream is usually the answer because if you go lighter your trim will look dirty. Hope that helps, Maria

  • Deborah Pendleton says:

    I think designers push something as dated so they can make money. My whole point in choosing Tuscan is its classic look so I wouldn’t have to keep reinventing my house. Even the exterior architecture is Italian so it would look dumb having an incongruent interior. But you have to really love a style before you choose one. Everything she’s replaced it with is very bland and without any sense of style imo .


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