In this Post: Learn how to design your Spanish colonial house interior. You will learn the history and influence of Spanish colonial houses, explore examples of gorgeous homes, and get inspiration on how you can authentically re-create the look!
If you’ve spent any time in warm-climate states like California or Florida, you’ve no doubt come across a Spanish Colonial revival. These homes are architecturally captivating, often set apart by stark white facades and red roof tiles.
These days, when someone mentions a “Spanish Colonial” they’re probably referring to a Spanish-style home from the revival era. Spanish revivals draw inspiration from the traditional Spanish Colonial homes built by Spanish settlers. These revivals have been turning heads since the beginning of the 20th century. While there’s no exact blueprint for a Spanish revival home, they all express an eclectic take on the historic Spanish Colonial architecture.
It’s not uncommon to be at a loss when decorating these homes. With all their beauty and quirk comes some interior dilemmas. Consequently, this special architecture calls for a curated design style all of its own.
The most important step when designing a Spanish Colonial house interior is to first understand its origins.
Sound daunting? Not to worry. We’ll provide the background info and lend a few helpful design tips to inspire you towards Spanish-style greatness.
History of Spanish Colonial Homes
Spanish settlers built Spanish Colonial homes in the U.S. from the 1600s through the mid-1800s. Builders constructed homes more simply to meet demands but mirrored some aspects from the design of their native land. In general, they kept things subtle and streamlined.
Design experts say Spanish Colonials are “one with their environment.” They’re usually one-story buildings made with materials like adobe or coquina. White stucco covers the thick walls, and the structures feature small windows with no glass, only wooden shutters.
Surprisingly, Spanish builders left the homes uncompleted. They built more rooms over time, resulting in funky L-shaped houses. Since they settled in such intense climates, the homes needed to stand up to direct sun and high heat. Luckily, the thick walls would absorb the heat of the day and provide warmth during cooler nights.
Curious to see some real-life examples? Head down to St. Augustine, Florida– America’s oldest settlement. Spanish homes and buildings cover the city. It is a must-see for any architecture buffs!
Spanish Colonial Revivals: Where the Craze Started
Spanish Revival houses are all in the name. These homes are a fresh take on the older colonial style, also influenced by Mediterranean and Moorish styles.
(Historical design inspires revival style. They often mix and match various styles and incorporate some modern elements.)
The Spanish Revival period began in the early 20th century as part of a broader movement. As a whole, Americans began showing more interest in their colonial roots. This included Spanish-style architecture, as it played a big part in the country’s early development. Its popularity skyrocketed around 1915 after the Panama-California Exposition. Architect Bertram Goodhue designed the event’s entire layout in the Spanish Revival style, and guests from around the country fell in love!
Finally, the lightning-fast growth of the film industry in California helped spread awareness of the style, catapulting its popularity even further. Spanish-style houses began popping up all over the country, although the highest concentration remained in Florida, California, and the Southwest. The heart of this revival period continued through 1940.
Overall, this revival period was more about an appreciation for the specific style rather than simply fulfilling boring utilitarian purposes. Revivals are often two stories tall, built completely from the get-go
Characteristics of a Spanish Revival Home
Spanish revivals are a classic mix of beauty and simplicity. They have provided the foundation for the “California casual” style that is so popular today. These homes boast a welcoming comfortable atmosphere that makes you want to hang out and relax.
A Spanish Colonial revival may be right for you if you can commit to a single decorating style. If your tastes change by the month, there won’t be a lot of wiggle room in an exotic home like this. On the other hand– if you love the idea of emphasizing oodles of built-in charm, this could be your perfect fit.
Spanish revival features at a glance
- Asymmetrical structure
- Low-pitched or hipped roofs
- Arched windows and doors
- Courtyard or other outdoor living spaces
- White stucco facade over adobe/coquina rock
- Red tile roofs
- Wooden beams
- Dark wood, or red/brown tile floors
- Arched doorways and nooks
- Wrought ironwork
Building materials and architectural features
Perhaps the most significant feature of Spanish revivals is the eye-catching red tile roof. The tiles slant downward and the roofs are typically low-pitched or hipped.
Like the original Spanish Colonial homes, white stucco covers the exterior walls. This gives the house an interesting textural appearance. Depending on the age of the home, they may be made with adobe brick or coquina rock. Alternatively, newer homes use more modern materials to give the same look.
In general, Spanish revivals are asymmetrical. If you see a Spanish-looking home with a very symmetrical structure, it’s more likely a Mediterranean design.
You’ll also find dark wooden beams along the length of the ceiling, sometimes mirroring the color of the hardwood floors. (Tile floors are common, too.)
Another important aspect of these homes is outdoor living. There is plenty of space to enjoy time outside to relax and enjoy nature. In the original Spanish Colonial homes, families used courtyards as overflow cooking areas to keep the home from getting too hot. These days, Spanish revival homeowners use courtyards, patios, and covered porches as extensions of indoor living spaces. The goal is for the home to flow seamlessly between the indoors and its natural surroundings.
Additionally, you’ll find arched doorways and windows inside and out of the home. Equally impressive is the interior and exterior doors made of dark wood showcasing intricate carvings. Although Spanish revivals are not highly decorative, the homes often boast beautifully crafted tiles. You can find tiles in places like the kitchen or covering the risers of a staircase. Wrought ironwork is another common feature. This special detail “fancies” up balcony railings outdoors or staircase railings inside.
How to Design and Decorate a Spanish Colonial House Interior
It’s important to remember that good design happens when you honor the bones of the home. This means you stay true to its character! For Spanish-style homes, make sure to keep things easygoing and comfortable. Organic materials should give them an unfussy, natural feel perfect for lounging and relaxation.
Keep things intentional
To stay in line with the simple spirit of these homes, edit the space so that the architectural elements shine. Basically– just be careful not to overshadow the best parts of your home with excessive wall decor or cluttered furniture.
Achieve this by sticking to items that are both functional and beautiful. You could go full Marie Kondo and decorate only with items that “spark joy.”
This pulled-back approach automatically gives off a signature relaxed and serene vibe.
Create interest through texture and textiles
Even with a more pared-down approach to decor, you can still give them room depth, and interest through layering various textures. This can be done through the use of rugs, pillows, throws, curtains, and decor pieces like ceramic vases and other types of pottery. Play around with mixed patterns for a trendy look.
Antique Spanish rugs, specifically, can pay homage to the history of the home and bring drama through pattern and color.
Another great trick is to thoughtfully place woven baskets from room to room to add extra organic texture.
Balance rustic and casual elements
To amplify the heart of the style, lean into a mixture of rustic and casual.
You can create a fresh, laid-back look with furniture by bringing in pieces made by antique or salvaged wood. First, anchor a living room with a sturdy wood coffee table. Next, flank it with linen-covered sofas to create an accessible and cozy foundation.
Further cozy up the space by draping soft throws over the backs of the sofas.
Use color to liven things up
It’s important to pick colors that work with the home’s neutral color palette while adding some flavor. Terracotta reds are classic for this style and may already be present in the shade of the tile floor. You can bring in more color through vintage artwork placed on a mantle or hung on the wall. Don’t forget to bring in greenery and heighten the natural vibe through some potted trees or plants.
Find inspiration and get started
California boasts thousands of Spanish-style homes. Coincidentally, Celebrities own many of these very properties. This means there’s no shortage of Pinterest photos and video home tours of Spanish revival homes. For example, Kendall Jenner’s Spanish home manages to feel casual and artistic all at once.
In the end, if you make the effort to learn the style’s rich history, you’re already well on your way to designing a thoughtful Spanish revival home. Remember: the most important part of putting together a Spanish Colonial house interior is creating a space that feels comfortable and uniquely yours.
We want to hear from you! Are you hoping to create a beautiful Spanish colonial house interior? If so, what designs and ideas inspired you? What do you love most about Spanish colonial homes? Comment below and share your thoughts!