Timeless Design: California Style
When one thinks of California living, an image of a chic minimal Malibu home perched cliff-side can come up, along with classic mid century modern design in Palm Springs. But when it comes to California’s most timeless west coast design, a more Mediterranean style comes to mind. Although some of the more coastal homes of Newport Beach, California can embody east coast references of New England or Hampton homes with a Craftsman, Tudor or Georgian style architecture, the more historical Spanish Colonial can be found as far south from San Diego to Santa Barbara and as far north as Santa Cruz, Napa, and Santa Rosa.
Spanish Colonial Style – also called Spanish Revival.
Spanish Colonial homes can be found in various regions of the country, dating from the time of Spanish settlement of the west coast of California, all throughout the Southwest – from Arizona to Texas – and even as far east as Florida. Most designs share these common elements: Their roofs are flat or low-pitched and extend over covered porches. Arched colonades around a courtyard can also be found. Typically the rooms do not open into one another, but onto the porch or, in larger examples, onto a common courtyard surrounded by the house and attendant buildings (also known as a casita or Mother-in-Laws quarters). The rear of many Spanish Colonial houses opens onto a large patio or garden area, which makes their design ideal for flowing the inside out.
The simple white walls allow the architecture to breathe in the entrance of this Spanish Revival Style home.
Although some of the Mediterranean styles of homes today, especially Tuscan style, can be found to have intricate ornamental ironwork, heavy wood beams, and decorative tile accents, keeping the natural stucco walls neutral – in shades of creams, whites, and taupes can help bring a freshness to this style of architecture. Mediterranean style is rooted in its overall simplicity, with emphasis on its outdoor terraces – again providing flow from the inside out, and the essence of timeless west coast style. Below is inspiration for incorporating California style into your home – even if you live in Scottsdale or Dallas…
Classic 1920’s Spanish-style home in Hollywood Hills of Ellen Pompeo, featured in Elle Decor 2010, as designed by LA designer and Million Dollar Decorator, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard.
Layering Moroccan influences and woven duhrie rugs compliments Spanish architecture in California style via
Classic & timeless pool design of Los Angeles interior designer Barbara Barry.
Light & bright California kitchen via
Well curated & stylish Los Angeles home of lifestyle blogger and interior designer Mark D. Sikes – published in House Beautiful November-December 2012
The keys to remember when creating timeless California style are:
1. Color choices resembling the sea, sky, and sand.
2. Layer rich textures in natural tones, such as rough sisal & jute with breezy cottons & linens.
3. Sandy beige or crisp whites are excellent selections for walls and ceilings, helping to reflect natural light.
4. Incorporate salt water weathered or white washed woods into furniture details.
5. Niches, arches, and clay patterned tiles are typical characteristics of a Spanish-style and Mediterranean design – keeping furniture in simple functional arrangements will help compliment these characteristics.
6. For decorative accents, incorporate handcrafted pottery and porcelain collections along with layers of books, botanicals, and sea elements (shells, coral, sea fans) to help tell your west coast style story.
Layered in patterns, without over doing it via
Light & breezy textiles in a rooms designed by Rachel Halvorson via
8 Keys to everyday elegance – from LA designer: Barbara Barry:
1 – Small space solution: Enlarge any room with a simple mirror to bring in the sparkle of light.
2 – Dress windows in fabrics that are the same color as the walls to visually expand the space.
3 – Declutter your rooms every now and then. Simplicity equals elegance.
4 – Open up one of your beautiful books to a page that inspires you.
5 Remember that a nice stack of fresh towels or linens is a thing of beauty.
6 – Uplift humble household items by placing them in pretty bowls or glass jars.
7 – Opt for plain fabric over patterned fabric – life is the pattern!
8 – Cut something fresh, even a branch with leaves, to bring the outdoors in.
Terracotta pots, decorative tile, intricate ironwork, carved wood arched entry door – all the characteristics of Spanish-style photographed by Laure Joilet
Imaged previously featured at Hadley Court – Ideas for Gracious Outdoor Living Spaces.
Arched doorway and long sloped roof at side entry of Ralph Lauren’s vacation home.
California style found in a Mediterranean entry in Phoenix, Arizona via
A Napa Valley Casita.
Even Leslie’s family summer home, Hadley Court in Arkansas, is an example of Spanish Colonial/Spanish Revival architecture.
For further reading and inspiration on California style and California style homes, click links below to refer to these five books, available at Amazon…
Thank you for reading! Are you inspired by the timeless design elements of California style? Which example did you like best? Please let us know in the comments!
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Leslie Hendrix Wood
Founder, Editor In Chief