What do you imagine?
Do you picture a chic minimal Malibu home perched on the cliffside?
Do you see mid-century modern design in Palm Springs?
I imagine the Mediterranean.
California is marked by a timeless west coast design.
Californian style elements are found in the historic Spanish Colonial homes from southern San Diego to northern Santa Rosa.
Spanish Colonial homes date from the time of the Spanish settlements in the west coast of California, all through the Southwest – from Arizona to Texas – and even as far east as Florida.
Most designs place emphasis on the terrace or courtyard which is the center of the home.
Living areas surround the courtyard where windows and doors can stay open because of the mild climate. There is an easy flow from inside to outside.
Read more about outdoor living spaces here.
Common California Design Elements
Flat or low-pitched tile roofs
Roofs extend over porches to add architectural interest and some shade!
Arches & colonnades
The arches and colonnades appear grandiose and dramatic on this patio!
Arches above doors, entries and windows give the homes a unique element of design that is not seen everywhere.
Wooden beams are popular in Spanish style interiors and work best on tall ceilings. Read my post on beamed kitchen ceilings for more inspiration.
Spanish and Mexican tile, often hand painted, are used to spice up these California style homes. The vibrant colors and patterns look great for kitchen backsplashes, floors, around showers and bathtubs. Wherever you want to make a statement and draw attention.
These garden classics are found littered on porches and in gardens everywhere. They add that familiar pop of color to the outside!
Handmade wooden furniture and doors add interesting details. This beautifully carved four poster bed looks light as air draped in sheer curtains!
Hand-crafted iron with ornamental detail elevates this plain entryway and staircase.
Natural stucco walls
The light stucco walls are simple and traditional and they don’t distract from the other design elements in the room. The light walls allow the other design elements to be noticed and stand out like the iron staircase, wooden beam, arched openings.
Spending time in this sunny California courtyard would feel like paradise to me!
Create timeless design elements of California style in your home with tips from L.A. Designer Mark D. Sikes.
Recreate Timeless Californian Style by:
1. Choose Colors that resembling the sea, and timeless 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. Keep furniture in simple functional arrangements to help compliment these characteristics.
6. For decorative accents, incorporate handcrafted pottery and porcelain collections. Additionally, layers of books, botanicals, and sea elements (shells, coral, sea fans) help tell your west coast style story.
Layering Moroccan influences and woven Dhurrie rugs compliment the Spanish architecture in California style.
This vibrant blue tile has lots of movement and reminds me of the ocean! For more patterned tile ideas read here!
Mixing patterns, prints and solids are design elements used in many California homes. The iron chandeliers add a touch of Mediterranean flair to this traditional living room.
Light & breezy textiles in rooms celebrate the relaxed vibe of California style.
White washed wood furniture goes hand in hand with west coast design.
This California style living room is full of natural textures. The natural textures here include the jute & animal print rugs, wicker chairs, and the tree.
The big arched opening off the terrace makes it seem as if you’re outside!
Here are some helpful hints from L.A. designer Barbara Barry that will keep elegance in your every day no matter what your style!
Everyday design elegance – California style!
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.
Want to be inspired by more design elements of Californian style and Californian Styled homes?
See my recommended books for inspiration (available on Amazon):
Photo credits: Elle Decor, bloombet.com, Barbara Barry, markdsikes.com, House Beautiful, House & Home, adoreyourplace.com, heirloomphilosophy.blogspot.com, elmueble.com Laure Joilet, Casa leandra, houzz.com, lacasitanapa, homedit, designed equilibrium, Mpls.St. Paul Magazine