In California, the Bay Area, and especially in Oakland, we are lucky to have some absolute gems of the California Mediterranean architectural movement.
As I write this, from my annual family vacation spot in Santa Barbara, I am surrounded by examples of the form. Historically, the “Spanish Colonial Revival Style” guided the rebuilding of this city, after a major earthquake here in 1925.
California Mediterranean design, while inspired by European seaside villas, is more accurately influenced by a mix or origins and cultures including: California missions, New Mexican pueblos, the American Craftsman and Arts-and-Crafts movements, Spanish Baroque, Moorish Revival, and the Mexican adoption of Spanish Baroque, called Churrigueresque.
Generally built between 1915 and 1930, although new construction continues to quote from the style today, Mediterranean homes are characterized by: stucco walls, tiled roofs, tiled flooring and decor (often with hand-painted elements), wrought iron ornamentation, multiple patios, fountains, large windows, and french doors.
Other unique details include ceilings that feature ornate construction and details: coved, coffered, exposed beams, painted patterns. California Mediterranean homes often have curves: curved staircases, arched entryways, and carved wood doors.
I love this style; the indoor-outdoor feeling, elements made by hand, the provenance of selected pieces, a soulfulness.
My firm has been fortunate to work on several elegant Mediterraneans, including two in Piedmont, one in Rockridge, and one in Moraga. (See our portfolio for photos)
Designs for these homes can be very textile-centric, with lots of bright, rich colors and textures against the expanses of white walls. While I am in Santa Barbara this week, I will be visiting the Raoul Textiles showroom and factory. A family-owned design firm, Raoul Textiles designs and curates an incredible collection of breathtakingly beautiful fabrics, hand-printed on Belgian linen in their factory, as well hand-woven textiles sourced from Belgium, Scotland, and France, in colors and patterns that beg to be used for the California Mediterranean style.
I will be immersing myself in the gorgeousness and considering options for several clients whose homes fit this format, including two projects featured in the photos for this article, as both clients are inviting us back to design basement-level ADUs, plus a new client whose 5-bedroom Mediterranean-style home we are currently decorating in its entirety.
While the homes are built in the early 20th century, we are sourcing from vendors who fabricate beautiful, new, quality bench-made furniture in the feeling tone of the old lines. We do sometimes source Spanish antiques, however these often feel a bit heavy for California — and modern living. The newer pieces have deep roots in the old world style, and yet the design is cleaned up, not quite so heavy-handed.
The showrooms we use are especially hand-picked for their ability to create quality furniture, pieces, with ecologically-sensitive materials, and so well made and tasteful that they can be passed down, if desired.
For today’s column, in addition to sharing Raoul Textiles with you, I am giving away a few more of my secrets. These are sites that inspire me as they relate to this form, and from whom I am currently sourcing materials, fixtures, and furnishings for my projects.
Do you have a Mediterranean-style home? Do you have questions about how to design it? We would be delighted to partner with you to enrich your Mediterranean masterpiece. Please contact us!