Mediterranean Architecture: Connecting Indoor And Outdoor

Known for their light stucco exterior and red clay tile roofs, Mediterranean homes are a staple in the southwestern United States.

The History of Mediterranean Revival Style

Mediterranean Architecture: Connecting Indoor And Outdoor Spaces

Mediterranean architecture draws inspiration from countries along the Mediterranean sea, including Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Original builders used local materials, including adobe for the exterior and red clay tiles for the roof.

The style spread to the United States in the late 19th century. Architects used the blueprint of Mediterranean villas to design hotels and coastal resorts. The designs became associated with leisure and wealth.

In the early 20th century, the Mediterranean revival style became popular for residences, peaking in the 1930s. Many of the affluent in southwestern states had large, Mediterranean-style houses designed, which are still standing today.

In Florida, architect Addison Mizner popularized the Mediterranean Revival style and the Spanish Colonial Revival style. He is most known for his 1918 design of the Everglade’s Club in Palm Beach, FL.

In California, architects Paul Williams, Sumner Spaulding, and Bertram Goodhue are credited for the spread of Mediterranean-style structures.

Since Mediterranean design pulls influences from various styles, people sometimes refer to it as Spanish Colonial, Neo-Mediteranenan, and Mediterranean Revival architecture.

Key Characteristics of Mediterranean-Style Homes

Mediterranean-style homes have a distinct look, although characteristics can vary based on region. Below is a list of typical features of Mediterranean-style homes located in America.

The exterior of Mediterranean-style homes:

  • Stucco exterior (white, tan, or warm-toned)
  • Red tile roof
  • Large 1-2 stories tall, often rectangular shaped
  • Arched doorways
  • Window grilles
  • Wrought iron balconies
  • Gardens or large outdoor leisure spaces

The interior of Mediterranean-style homes:

  • Stucco walls (white or warm-toned)
  • Arched interior doorways
  • Tile or hardwood floors
  • Exposed wood ceiling beams
  • Focus on natural textiles

Spanish Style vs. Mediterranean Style Architecture

Spanish and Mediterranean-style homes share many characteristics, making them hard to differentiate. Both feature stucco exteriors, red tile roofs, and an emphasis on natural resources. 

A key difference is that Spanish-style homes are smaller and plainer. While the Mediterranean style is a staple for large homes and mansions, Spanish-style homes are often one story. 

Also, Mediterranean architecture features more ornate detail on the exterior and usually boasts a rectangular shape. Spanish-style dwellings often feature circular-shaped domes and windows.

Examples of Famous Mediterranean Architecture

Here’s a look at some examples of Mediterranean-style homes and their common features.

The Hayes Mansion

Mediterranean Architecture: Connecting Indoor And Outdoor Spaces

Located in San Jose, California, the Hayes Mansion is a Mediterranean-style villa featuring 41,000 square feet and 64 rooms. The original owners, the Hayes family, constructed the residence in 1905 to house three families.

In 1985 the City of San Jose bought the Mansion and turned it into a conference center. The Hayes Mansion is now a hotel.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former residence of businessman James Deering, built in 1922. It features a blend of Mediterranean style and Italian Renaissance features, which include impressive Italian Renaissance gardens.

The mansion is now a museum operating in Miami-Dade, Florida. Members can view 32 decorated rooms and over 10 acres of gardens.

Ca’ d’Zan – The Ringling Museum

Ca' d'Zan - The Ringling Museum

Ca’ d’Zan (meaning ‘house of John’) is an eclectic Mediterranean Revival-style mansion. Built in 1926 in Sarasota, Florida, it features characteristics of Spanish, Gothic, Italian Reanassicance, and Moorish architectural styles. The villa was the Winter residence of famous circus mogul John Ringling.

Ca’ d’Zan is now part of The Ringling Museum, available for the public to view.

Large & Spacious

Mediterranean Architecture: Connecting Indoor And Outdoor Spaces

Although this house is full of grandeur and luxury, it has the quintessential Mediterranean style with its sharp lines, custard-colored surface, and red-tinted roof.

Artistic Nuance

Mediterranean Architecture: Connecting Indoor And Outdoor Spaces

Here’s an example of a Mediterranean home with a contemporary spin. The gray siding with white trim gives this home a fresh take.

Mediterranean architecture offer a calming and warm living environment. The homes offer open spaces connecting the outdoor environment with the indoor spaces.