Spanish interior design has a lot in common with the styles of its Mediterranean neighbors, who have shared architectural and craftsmanship for centuries. Therefore, Spanish homes share similar design elements with French Country style, Tuscan style and Moroccan style.
Basics of Spanish Style
With influences from the surrounding Mediterranean region, Spanish interior design features a coastline-inspired color palette of blues, greens, whites, and browns. The warmth of terracotta reds and oranges are other major players in Spanish color schemes due to the widespread use of terracotta tiles for flooring and roofs. The elements of stone and ceramics are very common in Spanish design along with pottery, wrought iron pieces, candle holders, and carved wooden panels. Metal accents of copper are also important to this style of design.
Wall finishes in Spanish interior design feature heavy texture made with stucco or plaster for interesting visual depth. Soft neutral glazes are often used in conjunction with these textured walls for more definition and color. Spanish wall décor usually includes rich woven tapestries and wrought iron grilles for a rustic, elegant touch. Accessories are kept to minimum with a tendency towards a few larger items displayed together like urns, vases, planters and pots.
Spanish Colonial Style
In the southwestern states, the influence of early Spanish colonists combined with local Native American culture to create Spanish Colonial style. This is sometimes described as Mission style design due to the historic mission churches built in the region. Spanish Colonial architectural design is defined by courtyards, tile rooftops, arches and smooth stucco walls. The surrounding southwestern landscape inspires a color palette of beige, deep yellow, red, purple, pink and white.
The furniture and accessories in Spanish Colonial homes is made in a simple, down-to-earth style. Furniture pieces are typically made of solid woods such as oak and feature sturdy designs with little ornamentation. The square dowels are often left visible as part of the rustic design. Other familiar elements of Spanish Colonial homes include built-in wall benches, free-standing cabinets and bell-shaped corner fireplaces. The earthy floors in this setting are usually tiles made from stone, rock or ceramic. Some commonly seen Spanish Colonial accessories are pottery, metal accents, stained glass and woven wall hangings. Images of saints which are carved in wood or painted are also popular in this style.
Spanish Revival Style
During the 1920's, tourism to southern Spain inspired demand for Spanish architectural styles to be built in California where Spanish Revival homes began sprouting up. This new hybrid style incorporated classic Spanish elements like adobe bricks, stucco walls, terracotta roofs, wooden ceiling beams, shutters, and carved entry doors. One prominent feature was the liberal use of wrought iron for gates, railings, banisters and window grilles.
Spanish Revival interiors were often stocked with original pieces direct from Spain or filled with commissioned furniture pieces from local artisans. Wooden furniture was typically made from oak or pine with interesting details like inlays, carvings, or painted finishes. The integration of leather and nail head trim created striking furniture pieces. The Spanish Revival period also lead to the manufacture of beautiful decorative tiles which followed the designs of Spanish Catalina and other traditionally styled tiles. These painted tiles have distinctive textures which combine matte and gloss finishes for stunning, colorful patterns.
Achieving Spanish Design in Your Home
Whether you intend to embrace Spanish design throughout your home, or you only want to add a few elements of the style to an existing design, there are numerous ways you can add some Spanish influence to your decor.
If possible, add some texture to your walls, along with a warm toned finish. Many Spanish style homes have stucco walls, particularly in the kitchen. You can recreate this texture by using some faux finishes in colors like:
- Off white
- Burnt sienna
Keep any wood work, trim or moldings in the home a dark, natural wood finish. The contrast of the dark wood against the warmer walls provides a rich depth to the space.
Railings and Stairs
Do away with solid wood banisters and replace them with wrought iron whenever possible. Wrought iron is seen throughout homes in the Spanish design and this elegant metal contrasts beautifully with natural woodwork and tile.
If you have bare or uncarpted stairs in your home, consider adding hand painted terracotta tiles to the risers. Look for interlocking patterns in bright colors like blue, yellow, green and red that can add a touch of interest and design to this unexpected place.
While tile floors are seen in many Spanish style homes, natural wood floors are popular as well. Leave the floors bare as much as possible, accenting with textured throw rugs that pick up the colors of the room.
Exposed wood beams are an integral part of Spanish style design, as are high ceilings and tall walls. If your ceilings are high enough, consider adding some faux wood beams in a dark wood finish to draw the eye and lend a sense of gravity to the space.
Accents are often the cornerstones of a decor style. To fully bring to life a Spanish style design, be sure to include plenty of the following:
- Terracotta pottery
- Hand glazed tiles on the kitchen backsplash and around the fireplace
- Wrought iron sconces on the walls and chandeliers above tables and in entryways
- Heavy, handcarved furniture pieces like armoires, sideboards, dressers and dining room tables
- Stained glass windows
- Cut steel lampshades and accents
- Heavy iron cabinet hardware and door handles
Resources for Spanish Interior Design
- Prevailing Winds - A nice collection of authentic hand painted ceramics from the Mediterranean.
- Colonial Arts - Spanish Colonial fine antique furniture and accessories.
- Spanish Plates - Decorative plates, mirrors, clocks, tiles, and wall décor direct from Spanish craftsmen.
- Hacienda Rustica - Spanish style furniture pieces for all rooms.
- Catalina Classics - Hand painted Catalina tiles and tile murals for true Spanish interior design.
Create Your Own Style
Infuse some Spanish style design into any style of home. Incorporate the colors, textures and materials of the style throughout your home to add warmth, dimension and personality to the space. Make the style your own by merging it with your home's characteristics and enjoy the richness that emerges.