What is a Spanish Style Home?

What is a Spanish Style Home?

Spanish style homes are distinctive and captivating with their graceful arches and terracotta roofs. Majestic palms often surround these homes, which only adds to their striking beauty. Spanish homes have Mediterranean roots where tiled courtyards and outdoor fireplaces are common, making them perfect for entertaining or spending peaceful nights alone under the stars. They're especially prevalent on the West Coast and in southern US locations, like St. Augustine, Florida. From simple and unadorned, to remarkably ornate, both styles are sought after by buyers with discerning tastes.


Whether they're expansive or humble, lavish or unpretentious, this style of home is a favorite from coast to coast. But where did these Spanish home designs get their start and why are they so well-loved? Let's break it down, starting at the beginning.


The Origins of Spanish Home Design

The new Spanish style homes of today evolved over the centuries. They’re derived from Spanish colonial architecture built in the US in the late 1600s after explorers initiated the Spanish settlement of America. As was common among colonizers of the time, they settled in areas with similar environments to their homeland.


Most of Spain experiences hot and dry summers; with colder and rainy winters. That means Spanish colonial architecture is found most frequently in warmer regions of the United States, like new homes in Florida, new homes in California, and new homes in Arizona. There, settlers used local materials to build structures in architectural styles similar to their own country. This architecture is some of the oldest in the US.


What Makes a Spanish Style Home?

Spanish architecture is easy to identify since its features are unique. Although these features change at times, the identifiable characteristics of Spanish home design are:

  • Terracotta roofs
  • The use of arches under eaves, on doorways and main windows
  • Small or narrow windows
  • Exposed wooden beams
  • Tiling on floors, stairs, and walls, frequently with brightly painted designs
  • Exterior stucco walls over stone or concrete construction
  • White or pastel exterior colors
  • Courtyards and balconies


Sundrenched exteriors tolerate the extremes of summer, while inside, these homes are cool, inviting, and comfortable. With their arched entrances and curved lines, Spanish style homes are much more romantic than the sleek modern ranch style home.


Why Spanish Home Design Has Endured

From the earliest instances of Spanish colonial architecture to modern-day communities built in sunny locales like Port St. Lucie, the Spanish style home has endured for centuries. The reasons are both practical and steeped in tradition. Here are three main reasons Spanish style homes have been popular for so long:


1.  In hot-weather areas, owners look for efficient ways to endure the intense summer heat. The natural cooling factor of Spanish homes has caused them to remain a favorite in those places.


2.  There are dense concentrations of Spanish architecture along the routes Spaniards took to migrate to the New World. These Spanish structures are now indigenous to our contemporary landscape and an integral part of American heritage. They're here to stay.


3.  In the early 1900s, a Spanish revival sparked an awareness of Spain's influence on American culture. Spanish colonial architecture experienced a comeback and eventually morphed into today's ranch style home.


Some new-construction communities offer variations on Spanish home design, and thousands of Spanish style homes were built across the US in the past several decades. Although it continues to evolve, it doesn't appear this architectural style will disappear anytime soon.


Could a Spanish Home Plan Be Perfect for You?

Some people love Spanish home design and actively seek this style out when buying a home. Others choose them out of convenience or energy efficiency. If you live in a warm-weather region like the Treasure Coast, chances are a Spanish home design will be at least one of the offerings to consider when building a new home.


If you do consider a Spanish style home design, realize it works well with drought-tolerant landscapes. Couple that with an exterior that wears well in the sun, and maintenance will be reduced. Tile floors are cool on your feet and easy to keep clean, an absolute must for pet owners. If your yard is small, much of your garden can be planted in pottery, reducing yard work to a minimum.


Entertainers will love the charm of Spanish home design. They can make good use of the patio or courtyard with some relaxing outdoor furniture and a built-in pool. Spanish home floorplans are easily kept to one floor, too, an important factor if stair-climbing for laundry or chores is a problem. You can have a cool, single-level home where you can ramble and live in comfort.


If these types of features appeal to you, then a Spanish style home could be just what you're looking for.


Ready to design your own Spanish home? Explore Pulte’s design center.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 10.21.19

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