What is Spanish Style Architecture?

The Spanish style of home design and the architecture from which it originates goes by many names but is commonly known as “Spanish Eclectic” or “Spanish Revival.” This distinct style has a long history that has helped to shape the residential aesthetic of certain parts of the United States, predominantly the Southwest. By digging into the history and design elements of this unique look, we can understand a bit more about why these homes are so special.

Spanish Eclectic

The Spanish Eclectic aesthetic is an amalgam of Native American, Mexican, and Spanish missionary styles. The first appearances of this housing style on American soil trace back to the days of the earliest Spanish settlers as they began to build out their dwellings. These homes were built with the materials that have become defined by their appearance: adobe, stucco, and clay. In this way, Spanish Eclectic shares some similarities with the Mediterranean style of architecture. Over time, this style saw periods of revival, during which construction of these homes experienced an uptick. Throughout these revival periods, additional features were added to the homes to accommodate the needs of modern living at the time.


Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: felixmizioznikov


What is Spanish style architecture?

The Spanish Eclectic style has several distinct characteristics in both its interior and exterior design. The thick stucco walls provide the backdrop for their unique look, but also help to keep the home cool during hot days and insulated at night. These homes typically have low-pitched terracotta roofs, exposed wooden support beams, and arched entryways and corridors, reflecting the features of their missionary origins.

Additional design details include wrought iron, colorful tile, and small windows. Though they may not be present in every Spanish Eclectic home due to limited space, courtyards are a common feature of this house style. You’ll often see a courtyard in the center of the home for a plaza-like arrangement, on the side of the home, or in the back.


For more information on the different home styles, read our blog post on cottage homes:

What is a Cottage Home?

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What is a Cottage Home?

Cottages are not only one of the most recognizable and beloved home design styles in history, but they’ve also managed to become synonymous with all things cozy, comfortable, and peaceful in home life. When we think of cottages, we think of grassy knolls in the countryside, moss-covered rooftops, and a steady billow of smoke pouring out the chimney of a small dwelling. Known for their simple design and comfortable accommodations, they remain popular today.

History of the Cottage Home

Commonly found in rural or semi-rural areas, what we know today as ‘cottages’ housed English farmers—or ‘cotters’—as far back as the Middle Ages. Simple in design, their small, compact footprint made for intimate living conditions for the families that inhabited them. They became increasingly more common in the countryside, but as time went on and the style made its way to the United States, their popularity began to spread. They became so popular, in fact, that in the early 1900s, Sears and Roebuck sold ready-made kits to homebuyers in their mail order catalog. Nowadays, cottages are found around the world, both in city settings and the countryside.


Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: Mark Winfrey

What is a Cottage Home?

Cottages are known for their distinct architectural style. They are small homes, intended to house a single family. Cottages are typically asymmetrical, one to one-and-a-half story dwellings with low-pitched gable roofs and small covered porches. The chimney is often a central feature of the interior living space, a feature that greatly contributes to that cozy charm they are known for. The cottage represents an important evolution in home design, as they are often considered the precursor to the Craftsman home.

Head to our Architectural Styles page to learn more about the history and characteristics of various home designs, from A-Frame to Victorian.

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What is a Cape Cod Home?

Today, the Cape Cod architectural style is synonymous with waterfront property, windy beaches, and vacation getaways. Known for its distinct exterior features and cozy interior spaces, the Cape Cod home has become an American classic.

History of the Cade Cod Home

The original idea behind the Cape Cod home was to bring a bit of across-the-pond familiarity to the early English settlers in New England. The design of the home was conceptually similar to an English cottage, except with certain modifications to fit the harsher Northeast climate. These homes were built throughout the region during the 19th century, then experienced a surge in popularity in the early-to-mid twentieth century, due to a renewed interest in colonial-era architecture and their affordability in a post-World War II economy.


Image Source: Getty Images – Credit: OlegAlbinsky

What is a Cape Cod Home?

The Cape Cod style uses simple lines and shapes that recall the English cottages they’re inspired by. They are typically one or two stories, square or rectangle in shape, with steeply pitched roofs, shingled exteriors, window shutters, and a central chimney. The steepness of the roofs was designed to reduce snow buildup, thereby reducing the risk of a roof collapse from bearing too much weight. The characteristically low ceilings were meant to prevent heat from escaping, while the shutters served as a wind block against the cold New England breeze.

There are multiple styles of Cape Cod homes. The easiest way to tell the difference between styles is to count the number of windows on either side of the front door. If there are two windows on one side of the door, it is what is known as a “half cape.” A home with two windows on each side of the front door is known as a “full cape.”  Regardless of which sub-category a particular Cape Cod home falls under, they all share a flat front façade, which creates their square or rectangular shape. Over time, designers have updated the Cape Cod design to accommodate the needs of modern life, but their unmistakable aesthetic remains timeless.


Visit our Architectural Styles page to learn more about the history behind certain styles of home design, from A-Frame to Victorian. For more information on home design, remodeling, and decorating, visit the Design page on our blog.

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What is a Rambler?

The distinct “rambler” architectural style is known by several names—rambler, ranch house, California ranch. Whatever you call it, the rambler has played an important role in the evolution of the American home. From its spacious interior to its welcoming layout, the rambler is tailor made for a comfortable home life.


History of the Rambler

Originally conceived in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that the rambler became a staple of domestic American life as the suburban boom reached new heights. The intention behind the architecture was simple: design the perfect post-war American home. The term “rambler” was a reference to the way the single-story design sprawled—or rambled—across the landscape, opting for horizontal expanse rather than vertical. One can imagine how fitting a portrayal this was of the American West—a home that allowed for expansive views of the surrounding landscape on a level plain. The rambler style was one of the first architectural styles to incorporate an attached garage into the home design. Over time, the rambler style began to take on elements of modern design and eventually evolved into split-level homes, creating rambler variants such as “raised ranch style,” “suburban ranch style,” and “storybook rambler.”  Even with these developments, the rambler has always stayed true to the theme behind its inception: a home designed to accommodate the needs of the modern American family. To this day, rambler homes are found in great numbers across the country.


Image Source: Getty Images


Characteristics of a Rambler

Ramblers are known for the flow of their interiors that allow for easy movement throughout the home’s horizontal spaces. The spacious layout, often times anchored by a central area, creates a feeling a continuity between rooms, a concept that was influenced by modern architecture. The wide layouts also resulted in large footprints, even though the majority of the homes in this style were constructed as one-story structures.

In another nod to modernist homes, ramblers often prioritized outdoor spaces for entertaining and gathering. This connection to the outdoors is reinforced by large windows and easy access to back patios to create a harmony between nature and the home itself. Similar to its distant relative, the Craftsman style home, it’s common for rambler to have low-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves.

For more information on home design, check out the Design Page on our blog.

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