Here's Everything You Need to Know About Mediterranean-Style Houses (2024)

Mediterranean-style homes, which resemble the aesthetic of Mediterranean villas, originated in the 1920s. During this period—the Roaring Twenties—people were consumed with wealth and leisure, resulting in the rise of seaside resorts in the United States.

A blend of Spanish and Italian architecture, Mediterranean homes are dominant in warm-weather locations like California and Florida, which also have Spanish influences. Popular architects at the time were Addison Mizner, who advanced this home style in Florida, along with Bertram Goodhue, Sumner Spaulding, and Paul Williams in California.

Alison Davin of Jute Home and DKOR Interiors' Ivonne Ronderos provided us with background on the common characteristics of Mediterranean houses and their top decorating tips to consider.

Main Characteristics

A Mediterranean house is a dream for someone who appreciates simple, yet elegant, spaces. "It's timeless and quintessential California," says Jute Home's Alison Davin, who is based in California. "If you want a house that is not trending and won't require updating—one with really warm woods, bright walls, and indoor-outdoor living—it's never really going to go out of style."

The exterior of Mediterranean homes typically feature a red-tiled roof (usually terra cotta), as well as brick or stucco that’s often painted white. Stone details, carved doors, and raw iron and metalwork on windows, over balconies, and front doors are other common features.

There are three main styles of Mediterranean homes:

- Italian Renaissance: Drawing inspiration from buildings during the Italian Renaissance, this style is marked by columns and rounded arches.

- Spanish Revival: This home, which is influenced by Spanish colonial architecture, usually boasts simple, clean lines and a low-pitch roof.

- Modern Mediterranean: The style has traditional characteristics of Mediterranean homes with a modern twist. A focus on indoor-outdoor living, spacious, open floor plans, along with Spanish and Italian influences, are evident in these homes.

Common Challenges

Living in a warm location comes with its own set of design challenges, especially for a Mediterranean-style property. "If you're on a big piece of land in a warmer climate, like California, and you paint the house white, the staining of wood doors and windows doesn’t wear very well because of the sun, so we're using a lot of metal right now," Davin says.

Plus, there’s the issue of inadequate light and storage. “A lot of times, we have to add windows and skylights, because Mediterranean homes tend to have smaller, more intimate spaces, lower ceilings, and smaller windows,” Davin says. “And in this style of home, you need more storage because there are no upper cabinets.”

According to Davin, achieving a cohesive look is also key. “Older Mediterranean homes were built really small and people add on to them haphazardly over the years,” she says. “We have to gut them to make sure they have a cohesive feel.”

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A Mediterranean property in Florida with a contemporary aesthetic. Design by DKOR Interiors.

DKOR Interiors' Ivonne Ronderos agrees, noting that clients are updating their homes to reflect how they live today. "In Florida, people are looking for a more contemporary style of living," Ronderos says. "So if the existing home was Mediterranean, we do our best to modernize it."

Design Tips

When it comes to decorating a Mediterranean-style house, an understated look is best. Davin relies on the principle of symmetry to showcase the beauty of the style. "Because it is so pared down, we try to keep the decorating really symmetrical," she says. "We do pairs of chairs, pairs of sofas, pairs of sconces."

Painting the space in one color and opting for the same flooring type throughout the property can give it a unified look. Eye-catching tiles, both inside and outside, can inject personality as well. And for even more character, Davin incorporates archways. “We like to reframe a lot on the inside to make interior archways instead of rectangular archways,” Davin says. “We do a lot of 12-inch interior archways that are more substantial, as well as arched staircases and doors."

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A Mediterranean-style kitchen by Jute Home.

Considering the warm woods that often appear in a Mediterranean home, Davin finds that this style of property looks best with dark wood and walnut furniture, quirky, smaller-scale antiques, neutral lightweight fabrics like linen, and strategic pops of color, especially when it comes to tiles.

Ronderos, who tends to work on Mediterranean homes with an outdated yellow tone, agrees. In addition to warming up the space with wood and natural materials, like stone and marble with geometric patterns, Ronderos relies keeps both paint and furnishings minimal. "The first thing that we do is brighten it up with a crisp white paint to finish," she says. "Once we get to the furniture, we rely on clean lines and neutral tones for the main pieces with a few pops of color in the art."

Outdoors, the goal should be to aim for a welcoming vibe. "We create intimate spaces—like a built-in fire pit that feels really cozy or a canopy over a dining area—so it feels more like a destination versus one big, expansive space," Davin says.

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Monique C. Valeris

Home Design Director

Monique Valeris is the home design director for Good Housekeeping, where she oversees the brand's home decorating coverage across print and digital. Prior to joining GH in 2020, she was the digital editor at Elle Decor. In her current role, she explores everything from design trends and home tours to lifestyle product recommendations, including writing her monthly column, "What's in My Cart."

Here's Everything You Need to Know About Mediterranean-Style Houses (2024)


Here's Everything You Need to Know About Mediterranean-Style Houses? ›

The Mediterranean style is unique in that it's designed for homes in hotter climates and to maintain a connection with nature. The building materials include stucco siding, clay roofs, and interior tiling with tall ceilings and open floor plans. These all come together to keep the interior cool.

What is Mediterranean house style? ›

With ties to historic European architecture, Mediterranean-style homes are reminiscent of sun-soaked, seaside locales. The elegant exteriors often feature red roof tiles, stucco walls, arches, and enclosed outdoor spaces.

What type of roof does a Mediterranean house have? ›

“Typical exterior elements for the Mediterranean style include a stucco-finished exterior and a low-pitched gable, clay terracotta-clad roof. Arched openings are often employed sometimes with ironwork railings or plantings in temperate climates.

How is a Mediterranean-style home different from a Spanish style home? ›

Spanish homes — with stucco walls, tile roofs and bright tiles — are complemented by organic reds and greens. Mediterranean homes, influenced by Spain and other south European countries, boast plaster walls, balconies and fountains, which shine next to earthy reds and browns, mid-tone blue-greens, and dark grays.

What makes a Mediterranean house unique? ›

Mediterranean homes are unique in their exterior appearance. The stucco walls add a textured look that are painted in warm colors such as terracotta, beige or cream. The remarkable red tiled roof adds timelessness and warmth to the home.

What are the colors for Mediterranean-style? ›

Warm hues, terracotta urns, and lush greenery set the tone. Whites and neutrals play perfectly for a stucco refresh. Look for soft, golden undertones like White Chocolate OC-127, shown here, as well as Niveous OC-36 and Sandy Brown 1046, both from our Mediterranean color palette.

How much does it cost to build a Mediterranean-style house? ›

Building a Mediterranean-style house costs anywhere between $350,000+ to more than a million dollars. The wide range in cost is, of course, due to the variety of factors it takes to build a home, including materials, laborers, seasonality, and location of the house.

What are Mediterranean house walls made of? ›

Stucco walls.

A stucco finish protects exterior wall surfaces from rain, sunlight and hot temperatures, common in Mediterranean climates.

What type of windows do Mediterranean houses have? ›

Casem*nt windows are a popular operating style in these homes. They can be tall and narrow while standing alone, or come in pairs of two. Tall windows, sometimes arched, are often seen in a walk out bow, which are bow windows that extend to the floor of a curved wall.

What states have Mediterranean style homes? ›

Mediterranean homes are most popular in warmer locations with long histories of Spanish influence, such as Santa Barbara, CA, Pasadena, CA, Austin, TX, and Miami, FL. One of the most recognizable examples of a Mediterranean mansion is the iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA.

What identifies Mediterranean houses? ›

Key Characteristics of Mediterranean Homes
  • Clay roof tiles that are low in height and created in a red or terracotta color.
  • One or two floors with an open area floor plan.
  • Arched windows and doorways which are large to encourage breezes.
  • Wrought iron details on window grilles and balconies.
Sep 15, 2022

What are Mediterranean houses called? ›

Mediterranean architecture is often called Spanish Colonial, Moroccan, Mission Revival, and Neo-Mediterranean, among other names. Despite differences in influences and styles, all Mediterranean-style homes are meant to be a relaxing retreat that connects the homeowner with nature.

What does a Mediterranean menu look like? ›

It includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils as well as seafood and healthy fats like olive oil and nuts. It also includes a moderate amount of chicken, turkey, eggs and fermented dairy, like yogurt or kefir, while limiting red meat, sweets and processed foods.

Why are Mediterranean houses white? ›

The white color reflects the biggest part of the dazzling light, preventing the houses from getting warm and that was a basic goal of the traditional architecture. Making the houses heat resistant, the summers are much more tolerable and pleasant.

What is the key feature in Mediterranean-style room? ›

Key Elements of Mediterranean-Style Design

Use natural materials: Include exposed beams, natural stone walls, and tile or hardwood floors; natural materials in finishes and decor such as wood, rattan, tile, ceramics, terra-cotta, wrought iron, linen, and cotton.

What is the difference between Tuscan and Mediterranean? ›

The Tuscan and Mediterranean styles often get confused. While Southern Italy borders the Mediterranean Sea and draws inspiration from the cool ocean breezes, the Tuscan style looks to the mountains and rolling hills of vineyards and olive groves.

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