The hallmark of Old World design is a comfortable, broken in look that shows the wear and tear of use. Textured walls, hand-troweled walls, tumbled marble. Distressed, matte and honed finishes are preferable to highly polished, reflective surfaces.
The palette is deep, rich and regal but muted for a timeworn effect. Colors typically seen in an Old World room include burgundy, navy, forest green, ocher and cream. A combination of finishes can range from dark-stained surfaces to painted, glazed and sanded finishes that simulate years of use.
The polished surface on ceramics jars and the rustic quality of wrought iron are often paired for subtle contrast. Other elements that evoke an Old World look include woven tapestries. Aubusson rugs and a distressed gilt finish on accessories.
Old World-style fabrics include damasks featuring oversize scrolls or floral patterns, complex tapestry designs, stripes and small prints set on cotton and muted hues of lustrous silks. Accoutrements like fringe, tassels and beaded trim add to the multilayered look.
Rough-hewn beams lining a ceiling can balance the more sophisticated elements in the room. Other notable architectural features of an Old World-style home include arched doorways and windows.