Three Rules for Italian Style Living Room Furniture

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Last updated: April 19, 2023

The design of Italian furniture did not just happen. It developed over thousands of years. They found the first signs of Italian craftsmanship in the ruins of Pompeii in 79 A.D. Carvings made from wood and cast-outs of bronze were little signs that Italian decor existed.  

However, it was not until the 15th century that the Italian style gained recognition as having a solid decor presence all its own. Italian-style living room furniture, dining room pieces, and royal beds appeared in castles and palaces.

Italian designers never lost sight of the humble beginnings of Greek and Roman descent and kept the traditional style as a reminder. Today, international design talents continue to learn from the history of Italian furniture. Students strive to improve on designs without erasing the classic style.

Giulio Cappellini is a fine designer and teacher that has been key to guiding the new generation of Italian design professionals. He teaches students to delve into the past of Italian design while reinventing qualities that are better than those of 20 years ago.

The grandeur of contemporary Italian living room furniture will never fade away, but new ideas and cultures are constantly being studied and tested. For example, merging Italian furniture into settings like Industrial home decor is one of the unique ways that classic Italian furniture is expanding. 

Table of Contents

If you have always had doubts about using an Italian coffee table as a transitional statement of beauty, think again. Different Italian styles give you many options for creating your own unique living room. Here are suggestions for including luxury Italian furniture in the style that you desire.

The Rule of Three

The rule of three is when you use an odd number for decorative items or properties. These can include style, color, furniture, or textures to present a more natural grouping. Three pieces of seating, three different natural materials, or a trio of tables within the same space will create a more balanced look.

Having Italian design living room furniture may be a dream of yours, but don’t get hung up on getting all pieces to match perfectly. You can have a warm and cohesive balance by starting with modern Italian furniture and then adding favorite classic Italian accent pieces. The second style of Italian living room furniture will add a fresh tone to your living room.  

Example #1

I can describe a Bergamo couch with a pair of 1D reclining chairs as the best of modern Italian living room furniture. Created from your specifications, the height and width of the seater sofas can be custom-made according to your physical measurements, providing maximum comfort.

Select accent side tables of art nouveau with glass and wood or two traditional Italian wine tables with carved European woods. An Italian contemporary style coffee table made of crystal and wood will be your defining piece. This mixture of materials and styles will blend nicely, using the three-piece rule. 

Example #2

One other example can start with two luxurious couches of bold bright velvet of contemporary Italian design. Cappellini is a great place to start when looking for quality. Removable covers make this piece also easy to maintain. Simple rounded armchairs of similar material grace one side of the two-facing couches.

The opposite side belongs to a white settee of traditional Italian design with all the curves and gold outlines of extreme Italian. A large square marble coffee table on straight gold metal legs will be the factor that ties this grouping together. 

Color Palette

We can find another trait for the rule of three with the color palette. The rule of thumb for painting a living room, master bedroom, or other spacious area is this simple equation: 60% being the primary color, 30% as the secondary color, and 10% belonging to the accent colors.

The color scheme can be different shades of the same color or opposite of bold contrasting colors for a powerful look. Grays and blues are popular colors today. Light beige makes a nice accent color. Always shop for paint colors in threes and use the rule of three for color.

Accent Rugs

An area rug can easily put a defining color or full-bodied texture to complete any room with10% of color accent. Oriental rugs are timeless when placed in front of a classic living room sofa. Contemporary sofas are also showcased with the right color combination of Oriental threads. Solid color throw pillows and ceramic vases can also bring out your third color, along with a primary shade in the rug.

Rugs with geometric designs woven into Alpaca wool is a new trend in contemporary Italian living room design. Hypoallergenic, warmer, and softer than sheep’s wool, Alpaca is becoming a must-have for a luxurious contemporary sofa or a modern armchair.

An unusual shape with small area rugs is also expanding to deliver a spot of color in front of a grand staircase or to accent modern decorative furniture without hiding beautiful marble tiles.


Believe it or not, lighting also carries a minimum of three types of lighting in any space. According to the Lighting Research Center, no room should be without:

  • Ambient lighting
  • Task lighting
  • Accent lighting

Ambient lighting is the general form of light that illuminates the entire room. Its job is to provide safe and efficient lighting to those walking through. You can find these by using ceiling lights, chandeliers, or recessed fixtures. Sometimes, floor lamps, table lamps, or wall-mounted fixtures are perfect for this purpose.

Task lighting can come as pendants, directional recessed lights, under counter lights, or desk lamps. The limited space lighting is the purpose of task lighting. Reading and computer work are the most common reasons for placing these types of lights.

Accent lighting is usually intentionally installed with track lights, line bars, directional recessed, or wall-mounted fixtures. This type of light is to focus on a specific point of interest. Many times, to accent an architectural feature or a collection of items, they can also make a room appear larger. 

If you have these three types of lighting already present in a living space, you need to pay special attention to how you arrange your furniture. The layout of light fixtures was installed with specific purposes in mind. 

Lighting is more important than you might think. It is always best to work with a lighting specialist when purchasing expensive furnishings, like custom-made classic Italian furniture pieces. Gaining that proper cohesive look comes from a combination of style, color, texture, and lighting.

Minimalist Design

The look of depth and intrigue comes out when dealing with accessories in groups of three. This is very apparent in minimalist decors. Uncluttered with clean lines and limited colors, you would think that the rule of three would not apply. However, contemporary minimalist design is a great way to see the obvious picture with this rule.

Go to any minimalist decorating site and notice the display of wall hangings or other decorative elements. A professional scene will show you everything in groups of three. Take your finger and cover one item. The grouping looks almost off balance in the room. The same principle applies to small rooms with little furnishings.

There is only one area that trumps the rule of three: the scale of size. If you try adding three tall vases to a short living room table, you risk a future disaster. Keep your scale of three within reason for the space you have to work with. This applies to light fixtures, furniture, wall hangings, and even color. The rule of three is only a guide and not an absolute.

Best Italian Style Furniture

The best Italian living room furniture is of no particular style or shape. It can take on a classic look with intricate carvings and rich, unique metals, or it can be simple with clean lines and a solid color for a contemporary look. This makes Italian furniture so appealing to so many homeowners.

Shop by Brand

Shopping for an Italian furniture brand is the best way to guarantee the highest quality of your design goals. Names like Cappellini, Cassina, Poro, and Molteni&C are high hitters in the Italian furniture design business. They designed their collections of Italian living room furniture sets for luxurious surroundings. 

A prominent architect and furniture designer, Gae Aulenti, created furniture pieces for Zanotta and left a lasting impression on Italian popular styles today. In 1989, Aulenti designed and created the Gaetano table. This is a fine example of how Italian contemporary popular styles only improve with time.

With the guidance of Italian design professionals, we have learned that high quality and great craftsmanship are important aspects of contemporary Italian furniture. The Italian brand also maintains respect and pride for its Greek and ancient Rome roots.

Whether your personal taste leans toward elaborate classic Italian interior design or a minimal modern Italian living room set, you will still feel the sophistication of the most incredible furniture in the world.  

Traits to Look For

Affordable prices for Italian living room decor are sometimes hard to find. Custom-made furniture that uses the best materials in the world simply cannot be available at warehouse prices.

Always request a copy of the manufacturer’s specification sheet on the item for the facts on the materials used. Pay special attention to words like ‘solid wood’ as opposed to ‘wood pieces or MDF’. These are inferior material phrases. 

Future Italian Luxury Furniture

While no one can look into the future, Italians are always looking for a better way to keep decorative furniture trendsetting and sophisticated. Blending the old with the new has always led them to incredible designs with items of furniture. 

With each modern era, Italian designers discover something new. Practicality is becoming more prominent in remolding the Italian modern style. The Western world is trending toward minimalism and the Asian culture is leaning toward simple straight lines. 

Extra Storage

Storage is being expanded in every kind of style that Italians are offering. Hidden compartments in ottomans and living room tables make Italian furniture practical while keeping the same valuable and luxurious look. High-end living room furniture is becoming modular and easier to move around for a change in furniture placement. 

Come Back Features

You may see hints of the 60s and 70s in Italian furniture designs. The focal point is changing by adding several styles to the living space. For example, Zanotta is an Italian furniture company that became iconic in its 60s, 70s, and 80s furniture pieces.

Italian designers announce fresh new pieces each year. The inspiration of the past and present contributors, like Gae Aulenti, keeps each perfect piece practical for families. The ability of designers to address and answer each need of a changing society is mind-boggling, but somehow, they do it. 

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