The Spanish colonial period lasted for almost 400 years, creating a vibrant design influence that continues to this day. If you're interested in the Old-World aesthetic of Spanish-style homes, you'll love discovering the history of this style, as well as the various elements that make it so captivating.
Embark on this romantic Spanish expedition featuring the exterior and interior decor ideas from examples of Spanish-style homes including landscaping, foyers, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and more.
Spanish style architecture has been around for a long time and continues to inspire architects and designers all over the world. In this article we will cover some history of the Spanish style house, some Spanish style landscaping, along with some inspirational photos of celebrity homes and Spanish style furniture.
Table of Contents
- What is the Spanish Style?
- Interior Style Features
- Exterior Style Features
- Brief Historical Overview of the Spanish Style Design
- Spanish-Style Homes (Exteriors)
- 1. Glorious Spanish Estate with Panoramic Canyon and Ocean Views
- 2. Gorgeous Princeton Residence by Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects
- 3. Holly Madison’s Former L.A. Mansion
- 4. Lauren Conrad’s Former Pacific Palisades Home
- 5. Impeccable Newly Built Spanish Style Mansion in Southern California
- 6. Stunning 1929 Spanish Style Home with Soaring Beam Ceiling
- 7. Vince Vaughn’s Former Los Feliz House
- 8. James Franco’s Former Silver Lake Duplex
- 9. Spanish Colonial Revival Style Home in Los Angeles
- 10. Open-Concept Spanish Modern Duplex
- Spanish-Style Interiors
- Spanish-Style Landscaping
- Spanish Furniture Style
- Materials Used in Spanish-Style Homes
- Spanish Style Decor
- Styles That Mix Well With Spanish-Style Homes
- Why Spanish-Style Homes Look Great
What is the Spanish Style?
This form of architecture borrows from various time periods and influences, so it’s much broader than other home styles. However, as we’ll get into, some specific features and elements are present in almost all types of Spanish-style buildings. This term has a variety of subsets, including Spanish Eclectic, Spanish Revival, Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Moorish.
Most of the design components stem from the Spanish colonial period, which spanned from roughly the late 1400s to the mid-1800s. Although this era spanned centuries, many of the buildings that still stand have similar features and adornments. To help understand the Spanish style, even more, let’s break down its interior and exterior elements.
Interior Style Features
- Wooden Ceiling Beams – Usually, you don’t get to see the skeleton of your house, but with Spanish style homes, the beams supporting the roof are often on full display. If these beams protrude along the exterior, they are known as “vigas.”
- Decorative Wrought Iron – While many exterior windows can use wrought-iron bars as a covering (along with a shutter), the metal material can be present inside. Pieces like a wrought-iron stair railing or chandelier are popular. Because this metal is less polished and shiny, it gives a more weathered, authentic appearance.
- Painted Tiles – Terracotta tiling is present in Spanish-style homes in a variety of places. Most of the flooring is made of tile, as well as wall accents and backsplashes. Some of these tiles will be painted with traditional Spanish designs to help add more color to the scene. Usually, the tiles are red or brown, but sometimes they can be vibrant blues or yellows.
- Wall Niches and Alcoves – Instead of relying on furniture for counter space, Spanish-style homes will usually have some built-in niches. These accents are perfect for decoration, although some can be a bit more practical. For example, a wall niche may be used as a bookshelf or spice rack.
- Dark Wood Doors and Frames – Although the walls and floors may be bright and vibrant, most of the wood in a Spanish-style home will be dark and rich. Spanish cedar and mahogany are popular choices.
- Steel Lighting Accents – It’s very common to see a full-size chandelier in a Spanish-style home, as well as other hanging lights. Usually, these pieces are made of either wrought-iron or steel to give a more timeless and industrial appearance.
- Old-World Furniture – We’ll get more in-depth on Spanish-style furniture, but many pieces inside the home will be covered in ornate decorations or thick, illustrious fabrics. Each item looks like it could last for hundreds of years with the right care.
- Archways – Spanish arches are present throughout the home, both inside and out. Windows, doorways, and alcoves typically have an arched slope to them – even the doors themselves can be arched.
Exterior Style Features
- Red Tile Roofs – One of the most distinguishing elements of Spanish-style homes is the roof. Roofs are sloped and typically use barrel tiles overlayed on top of each other. These tiles are almost always red, although they can be brown sometimes. Interestingly, there are few overhangs on the outside, if any. Usually, any protruding pieces are the wooden vigas.
- Stucco Walls – The walls of a Spanish-style home will be thicker than most other styles. The thickness and durability of stucco help absorb heat during the day and release it at night. Since Spanish architecture is usually found in hot, arid climates, this feature is both practical and aesthetic.
- Adobe Bricks – While traditional Spanish buildings don’t use mud bricks like adobe, those found in the American Southwest and Mexico do. Adobe is prevalent in the region, and like stucco, it’s highly practical for desert environments.
- Simple Embellishments – The Spanish loved to adorn their homes with minimalist accents to show off their style without being too gaudy. One prime example is a small tile arch over a window or doorway, with an otherwise bare surface.
- Small Windows – If you’re not familiar with air compression, when air flows through a smaller opening, it becomes cooler (i.e., like blowing on hot food). So, having smaller windows is practical for hot environments. Cool breezes can come in while trapping the hotter air outside.
- Turrets – While not all Spanish-style homes have a prominent turret shape, some of the more opulent structures do. Turrets can either be on the corner of the building or at the main entrance. These turrets serve as visual centerpieces, drawing the eye and making the home look even more imposing, like a fortress.
- Courtyards – An interior courtyard is a perfect place to relax and enjoy some sunshine. Again, not all Spanish-style homes have these, but it can be a delightful addition to the property.
- Parapets – Homes that borrow from the colonial and mission-styles will often have parapets along the wall’s outer edge. These accents can give the home a much more classical vibe.
- Single Level Building – While there are exceptions to this rule, many Spanish-style homes are single or split-level. If you do see a house with two or more stories, it’s likely a Spanish Revival, which started in the 1920s and continues to this day.
Brief Historical Overview of the Spanish Style Design
As a colonial power, Spain brought its influences all over the world. Everywhere from the Philippines to Mexico to the U.S., the Spanish made their mark on both history and architecture. In the United States, the two areas most influenced by Spanish colonialism are California and Florida. Both states were part of the Spanish empire at one point, so much of the design elements were pervasive within the local community.
Original Spanish style homes were built between the 1600s and 1800s. So, if the building is from this period, it’s considered Spanish Colonial architecture. Anything after that is labeled as Spanish Revival architecture or Spanish Eclectic because it will borrow from various influences, not just Spanish architecture.
One reason why the Spanish architectural style became so widespread (beyond imperialism) is that these structures used local materials. So, Spanish-style home in Mexico will be slightly different than one in Spain or one in Florida. Each house reflects local customs and building options. For example, in Arizona, most of the bricks will be made from adobe. In Florida, coquina rock is much more prevalent.
In the U.S., Spanish Revival began in the early 1900s and continued its peak until about the 1920s. During this time, Americans were looking to their past for inspiration. Areas, where the Spanish settled, leaned heavily on the elements of colonial architecture. Also, around this era, rustic and simplistic ornaments were becoming the rage. Since Spanish-style homes already utilized these aesthetics, it was a perfect match. This style is called the Spanish colonial revival architecture movement.
One notable highlight from this period was the Panama-California Expo of 1915. The Expo was a celebration of finishing the Panama Canal, and San Diego was the first U.S. port accessible by the new waterway. Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, along with others, built various Spanish design inspired buildings. Many of them drew upon old Spanish missions, with ornate stonework and religious imagery. The success of the festival helped Spanish Revival spread further throughout California and the rest of America.
Santa Barbara is a prime example of Spanish architecture at work. When most of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1925, the city planners decided to incorporate many Spanish elements into the reconstruction effort.
Another very popular architecture movement is the pueblo revival. The pueblo revival is very popular in the southwestern United States (specifically New Mexico), and draws plenty of inspiration from the Spanish missions. Though popularity peaked earlier in the century, many homes are still made in this way.
Pueblo revival uses similar architectural designs to adobe designed homes (thick walls made from clay, handmade tile, flat roof, etc) though different materials are often used, like brick and concrete as well as adobe.
Spanish-Style Homes (Exteriors)
Gaze upon these charming homes that feature distinct Spanish designs. From what you just learned about the history of the Spanish house design, see if you can identify if a home is a Spanish colonial home, or a Spanish revival home.
*Fun fact: the proper way to refer to one of these lavish, Spanish colonial style homes is hacienda.
1. Glorious Spanish Estate with Panoramic Canyon and Ocean Views
A home that is a cross between Florida and Spanish-style with tropical landscaping that makes the beige walls more dramatic, especially against a colorful sunset. This angle offers a view of the different buildings that make up the whole house.
These irregularities actually add to its glorious charm and uniqueness. Not to mention the tropical landscaping brings the entire outdoor space to a new level of homey-ness.
This is a traditional Spanish-style home with an abundance of modern french window and french door additions.. The architecture offers irregularities that don’t offer much symmetry as if its two different houses combined into something elegantly unique.
2. Gorgeous Princeton Residence by Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects
This traditional Spanish home features a couple of dark wooden oriel windows that pair well with the castle-like stonewall front. There are several structures that were given an arched top like the main door, entryways, and massive windows. The ample use of greenery is a nice counterbalance for the earthy tones and straight lines.
A lavish lawn filled with greenery serves as a bridge to the three separate houses in this multi-sectioned Spanish complex. It features massive glass windows and arched entryways paired with clay-tiled roofing and soaring chimneys atop of traditional Gable, red tile roofs.
3. Holly Madison’s Former L.A. Mansion
This Spanish-style mansion has bright white walls and clay tile roofing partnered with French windows and dramatic warm yellow light. It features an impressive stone walkway surrounded by abundant landscaping leading to a massive turret-shaped entrance hall that transitions to the traditional elegance of the house.
A spacious backyard with an elegant pool in the midst of a relaxing scenery that compliments the white walls, large French windows, and arched entryways. These structures offer an almost unobstructed commune with the lavish landscape illuminated by the wall-mounted lamps on the outer walls of the Spanish-style mansion.
4. Lauren Conrad’s Former Pacific Palisades Home
A Spanish home that welcomes with a beautiful arched entryway lined with patterned tiles and topped with wooden trellis. This entryway is mirrored into the arched doorways of the main door and glass balcony doors.
There are Mediterranean architectural elements combined to this Spanish home giving it a characteristic of its own. Did we mention how much we love the Juliette style balcony as well?
A line of trees and ends with a pond-style pool. French doors and French windows offer a warm and welcoming personality that is augmented with an outdoor fireplace built into the exterior of the house.” width=”768″ height=”512″ />
The Spanish house plan is designed to have an L-shape to accommodate a sprawling well-manicured lawn lined with trees and ends with a pond-style pool. French doors and French windows offer a warm and welcoming personality that is augmented with an outdoor fireplace built into the exterior of the house.
5. Impeccable Newly Built Spanish Style Mansion in Southern California
This is a Spanish-style home in the Hollywood hills has traditional elements that are balanced with the straight lines and angles of a modern house. The modern pool in the backyard is bordered with brilliant white stone steps on a nice carpet of grass that beautifully contrasts the white walls. Illumination is provided by several Spanish style lanterns mounted on walls and patio ceiling.
A brilliant low wall surrounds this Spanish home that has warm lighting from its matching wall-mounted lanterns. these lanterns seem to mirror the yellow-lit French windows and French glass doors that present a perfect partner for the clay-tiled roofs and a modern-style chimney.
6. Stunning 1929 Spanish Style Home with Soaring Beam Ceiling
A Spanish colonial revival style home that features balconies and large glass windows that look over a backyard with an oval pool. The earthy tones of the walls, stairs, and stone floor pair well with the abundant greenery of the landscaping. Bluish hues light up the scene from the pool to the several windows that reflect the blue skies.
A beige stone walkway leads to the arched entryway that is adorned by colorful patterned tiles that contrasts with the solid beige walls. This Mediterranean detail is also applied to the second-floor window with bluish tiles surrounding it that reflects the bluish wooden main door. The charming foliage and even the soil of the front lawn pair well with the earthy tones of the Spanish home.
7. Vince Vaughn’s Former Los Feliz House
This traditional Spanish-style home is brilliantly glowing with several yellow lighting features that also illuminates the surrounding foliage of the landscape. This home features a main house with exposed beams on its wall that is mirrored onto the trellises of the sections branching out from it.
The dramatic facade of this Spanish home is balanced with touches of modern elements in its French windows and glass door leading to a balcony overlooking the stone stairway. A couple of wooden garage doors are paired with a modern chimney and wonderful creeping vines that provide a green accent to the white wall beside the garage doors.
8. James Franco’s Former Silver Lake Duplex
This Spanish home maximizes its small lot with its utilization of the vertical space. It also follows the sloped lay of the land with the use of stone stairways leading to different section levels of the house. The modern style of the highest level stands out against the traditional parts, yet it doesn’t clash but adds to the aesthetic instead.
A Spanish-style home that is predominantly white which provides a good background for the gray-ish wooden main doors, clay-tiled roof, and stair railing. An elegant wooden balcony supported by wooden beams is placed above the main doors with French windows.
9. Spanish Colonial Revival Style Home in Los Angeles
The simple and white walls of this Spanish-style home is contrasted with dashes of color with its bluish French windows and doors. The clay-tiled roofs match the wooden garage doors and landscaping that present a romantic Spanish scenery.
The centrepiece of this lovely Spanish home is its brilliant reddish wooden main door that adds a romantic personality to the traditional elements. It overlooks the garden that has tall trees and shrubs that mimic a Spanish locale.
10. Open-Concept Spanish Modern Duplex
This Spanish duplex has textured white walls that stand out against the variety of greenery framing the house. French windows that reflect the skies pair well with the bluish wooden door with an arched entryway and a stone walkway leading up to it.
This is a brilliantly white interior with an arched entryway over hardwood floors topped with a woven wicker area rug. Dark elements that are paired with earthy tones are strategically placed to balanced the stark whiteness. There is a touch of modernism in some of these elements that seem to fit in with the overall aesthetic.
The following are photo examples of Spanish-style interiors (room-by-room). Below each photo are links that take you to extensive Spanish-Style photo galleries for each room.
This is a Spanish-style living room interior with a ceiling striped by exposed wooden beams that support a dark iron chandelier. The hardwood flooring bears a bluish patterned area rug where two bluish sofas across a fireplace flanked by French windows and a circular wall-mounted mirror above it.
The large central island of this Spanish-style kitchen interior pairs well with the green cabinetry and hardwood flooring. The green color contrasts with the white subway tile backsplash of the sink area and the modern metallic fridge.
The Sputnik chandelier lightens up this predominantly white Spanish-style dining room augmented by the natural light coming from the French windows and glass door. A round wooden dining table is surrounded by six dark wooden chairs with woven wicker over a colorful patterned area rug.
This Spanish-style bedroom has an abundance of patterns from its area rugs, pillows and the bench at the foot of the bed. The beautiful fig leaf ficus and massive mirror add a certain vibrancy to the white walls and white ceiling with pin lights at the corners and a white ceiling fan.
This is the vanity area of a Spanish-style bathroom with a brass wall-mounted sconce above the square vanity mirror that is flanked by French windows. The vibrant green mosaic tiles are a good reflection of the scenery outside the windows and are a good contrast for the brass faucet and pipes.
Spanish-style foyer with a patterned grey stone flooring that properly transitions from the exterior to the interior of the house and its hardwood floor. The white walls and the main door are illuminated by golden pendant lighting that hangs from a wooden ceiling with exposed beams.
Palm trees and tropical plants surround the area giving it a distinct feel of a Spanish locale that perfectly complements the house.” width=”1020″ height=”680″ />
This is a picturesque Spanish-style landscape that features a walkway made of irregularly shaped stones embedded into a grassy lawn. Palm trees and tropical plants surround the area giving it a distinct feel of a Spanish locale that perfectly complements the house.
Spanish Furniture Style
Dark Wooden Pieces – Like the doorways and wooden beams, most Spanish-style furniture is a deep cedar or mahogany. Whether it’s a lounge chair, an end table, or a commanding dining room table, dark wood is prevalent in most pieces. The overall trend is rustic and authentic.
Wrought Iron Accents – In addition to dark woods, some furniture pieces will utilize wrought iron as well. This end table is an excellent example of merging the two elements for classically stunning detail.
Minimal Ornamentation – Most Spanish-style furniture is more functional than beautiful, but it can have ornate accents on them. In many cases, patterns or designs are carved directly into the piece, like with this end-table.
Materials Used in Spanish-Style Homes
- Wrought-Iron – This metal holds up better to dry, arid climates, and it doesn’t require as much maintenance and upkeep.
- Stucco – Most of the walls of Spanish-style homes are made of stucco, although other materials can be present.
- Clay Tiles – Terracotta tiles are prevalent in the flooring, as well as the roof.
- Adobe Tiles – For Spanish-style homes in the American Southwest, adobe can be a popular material. These bricks are made of mud and other natural elements, such as straw.
- Wooden Beams – The heavy roofs of these houses require sturdy beams for support. They can also protrude along the outer edge of the home.
- Steel – Modern Spanish-Revival properties can use a blend of steel and wrought-iron for a more eclectic aesthetic.
- Stone – Mission-style homes try to emulate the ornate stonework of old Spanish churches. While the whole house isn’t made of stone, these accents usually are.
Spanish Style Decor
Chandeliers – These days, an ornate metal chandelier isn’t as practical as it once was, but it does command attention. Most modern versions use electric lights, but if you want an extra-authentic feel, you can buy one that utilizes candles instead.
Religious Ornamentation – The mission style will usually incorporate a variety of religious symbolism, such as ornate metal crosses hanging on the wall. As with all Spanish decor, less is more.
Metal Lighting Accents – Beyond the chandelier, many lights in a Spanish-style home can have ornate metal accents. Both interior and exterior lighting can benefit from these decorative elements.
Clay Pottery – To add to the rustic flair of the Spanish style, pots and other clay pieces can be placed throughout the home. Usually, they are grouped together instead of spreading out.
Ornamental Tiles – Painted ceramic tiles can add panache to the house, as long as they aren’t overwhelming. One location for these tiles in Spanish Revival homes is on the stair riser. Fortunately, you don’t have to go out of your way to add these accents – a simple vinyl covering will do.
Styles That Mix Well With Spanish-Style Homes
Already, the Spanish style is a blend of various influences and cultures. So, mixing and matching these different designs can work well to create a more unique and vibrant setting.
- Adobe Style – Most Adobe-style homes incorporate natural elements and are not as ornate. However, because Adobe does have Spanish influences (such as the wooden vigas), it works well for some parts of the house. Like Spanish-style homes, these buildings use thick stucco (or mud) walls and are usually one story. Small windows allow cool air to flow inside while keeping the heat out.
- Mexican Style – Much of the Mexican style is borrowed from Spanish colonialism, but it offers a different set of colors and decorative pieces. Because the Spanish style is already based on rustic elements, the Mexican style works well. Usually, Mexican design will be simpler and more practical and doesn’t use as much metal. Also, wooden pieces are not as elegant as the woods in Mexico are not as rich as the Spanish cedar.
- Mediterranean Style – Since Spain is part of the Mediterranean, it makes sense to blend these two styles. White, stucco walls, ornate tiling, and vibrant colors are all par for the course. However, there are some key points where these two styles diverge. For example, Mediterranean homes have larger windows to allow for ocean breezes, and they are typically multi-story. Both designs do utilize courtyards and archways, although the Mediterranean style is less inspired by churches and/or forts.
Why Spanish-Style Homes Look Great
There are plenty of reasons to want a Spanish-style home, but let’s list out the top ones we appreciate the most.
- Old-World Aesthetic – While there is some appeal to the sleek, modern trappings of newer styles, Spanish architecture calls to mind deep respect for history. A Spanish-style home is never “of the moment” – it’s timeless.
- Minimalist Elegance – Since most Spanish-style design elements are tasteful and subdued, you never have to worry about going overboard and looking tacky. Even something as ornate as a wrought-iron chandelier works well as a centerpiece. Just make sure that you don’t put too many wrought-iron pieces together.
- Living Authentically – The rustic elements of Spanish decor and architecture can give you a sense of rugged individualism. You don’t need the trappings of modern convenience – you like to do things the traditional way. Trade in flashier elements for something more authentic.
- Warm and Inviting – Finally, a Spanish-style home can be much more appealing than something more modern and chic. The classical elements, combined with the rustic flair, gives you a sense of being home, even if the place is brand-new to you. Plus, the white walls and vibrant-yet-earthy color palette are both stimulating and comforting.