The Spanish Revival style has come to stay, especially in the sunny southwest, because of its distinctive and attractive elements which include red terracotta tiled roofs, decorative chimneys, plain stuccoed walls, arched windows, doorways, built-in niches and alcoves, decorative wrought iron work, wooden beamed ceilings, use of colorful hand painted tiles, balconies, and expansive courtyards.
What is it about Spanish Revival styled homes that makes them so extraordinary and so endearing? I love their open layouts, the towers and turrets with oodles of charm and character that defies time. Even today, some of the elements of Spanish Revival architecture have been used in contemporary styles. After many years of saving, my husband and I are finally getting the chance to buy our own home in southern California.
While the house is old and in dire need of repair renovation, it’s reminisce of the kind of style we’ve been looking for — Spanish revival style. If you’re wondering what these elements look like or are thinking of incorporating some of these styles in your own home, here’s what you should look for:
The exterior walls are usually thickset, stuccoed and painted white or a light earthy tone. This material keeps the interior cool in hot southern climates (if you’re thinking energy-efficient). Stucco allows intricate details of architecture to stand out and enhances the visual appeal of the red terracotta tiles. An integral feature of this style of architecture is the cozy, built-in niches, alcoves and recesses that puncture the walls, both interior and exterior.
Roofs are entirely covered with red barrel mission tiles. There are some homes where the roof is not visible from the street. Multi-level roof lines create an asymmetrical facade. The red terra-cotta roofing provides a warm, rustic and earthy appearance.
A striking feature of these homes is their distinctive tower-like chimneys which are often quite ornate and have their own individually detailed roof-like terracotta caps. Many are made of brickwork and though functional are given special treatment with ledges, ornate moldings and little windows.
Windows and doors
Nothing typifies Spanish Revival architecture more clearly than ‘arches’ which you will find throughout the home beginning with porch entries, doorways, windows and right down to niches, alcoves and fireplaces. A complex mixture of window shapes, types and sizes also contributes to the style.
Spanish Revival doors are typically heavy wooden, very often elaborately carved, with a small opening or window. Window and door surrounds often feature elaborate tile work, applied relief ornamentation, and wrought iron grillwork.
Balconies or terraces
Balconies are typically of two kinds – covered balconies which are generally made of wood and French balconies often cantilevered, made of wrought iron. In two-story buildings a careful placement of balconies and bay windows effectively adds asymmetry by breaking up the overall massing of the building. Decorative stucco moldings, shields made of terra cotta, spiral columns and pilasters all help to create a warm inviting facade.
Decorative wrought iron work
Wrought iron is widely used as decorative accents throughout the house in the form of Spanish-style chandeliers, lanterns, wall sconces, gates, window grilles and balcony and stair railings.
Hand painted tiles
I just love the hand painted tiles used for flooring, wall surfaces and on staircases. Often a mix of different patterned tiles is used that creates a striking visual appeal. Catalina tiles are often used to produce some amazingly colorful stair risers. Earthy red terracotta tile is often used on entry pathways and kitchen floors.
Wooden ceiling beams
Don’t you just love this warm rustic appearance and appeal created by wooden ceiling beams?
Courtyards and patios
The feature I love the most is the courtyard with its lushly planted gardens and palm trees. I’m looking forward to hosting outdoor events for friends and family.
The Spanish Revival style owes its continued popularity, especially in the sunny regions of America, to the flexibility of its design elements and the wide adaptability of the materials used in construction of homes of this style.