The Characteristics That Define a Mediterranean Home

Mediterranean Mansion

Throughout the ages, architectural styles have changed. However, the period is not the only factor that has influenced architectural styles as the location also plays a key role. As you travel across the globe, you will see different architecture that is specific to certain regions, countries or continents. One style that you may have come across are homes built in the Mediterranean architectural style.

This is a style that is popular in both Mediterranean countries and in many other locations across the globe. This style of property has many key characteristics, and you will need to learn more about these if you like this style and want to replicate it in a home you are building or in your current property. Here is what you need to know about the characteristics of Mediterranean houses.

What Are Mediterranean Houses?

Houses built in a Mediterranean style originate from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Countries that are classified as being Mediterranean include Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco. Palestine, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. While all these countries may have influenced the Mediterranean style, the major influences have been Spain and Italy. This is a style that has been replicated in many other locations around the world.

What Factors Have Influenced the Mediterranean Architectural Style?

There are a variety of factors that have influenced the Mediterranean architectural style. Some of these factors include:

  • The availability of resources in the local surroundings.
  • The Mediterranean climate and the need for comfortable living in hot temperatures.
  • Cultural and historical influences.

What Materials Are Used in Mediterranean Houses?

The materials used to build Mediterranean homes can vary depending on the country, the style of the house, the size, and the budget on which it was built.

What Are the Main Characteristics of Mediterranean Homes?

The individual characteristics of a Mediterranean home can vary from one property to the next. According to Architectural House Plans, some typical characteristics include the following:

  • Exterior walls – The walls are usually made from brick or stone that is coated with a stucco exterior. The exteriors are usually pastel hues or even white.
  • Shape – Symmetrical shapes are popular with rectangular and square houses being the most popular. There are also houses that are built around a courtyard in a U-shape.
  • Windows and doors– There are several notable features of the windows and doors in Mediterranean houses. They are usually arched, and the windows often have wrought iron grills. Both the windows and the doors are large as this encourages a breeze through the houses. The exterior doors are generally made from wood, and the windows sometimes have wooden shutters. Interior doorways are often arched and open.
  • Roofs -Another of the most notable features of Mediterranean houses are their roofs. They typically have low pitched roofs with red or terracotta tiles.
  • Floorplans – Mediterranean houses will usually have an open-plan interior in the main living area. Mediterranean villas are most likely to have only one or two floors.
  • Ceiling Height – There are high ceilings, which is another feature that gives the rooms air in warm weather.
  • Floors– Some Mediterranean houses have stone or flagged floors. More commonly, the floors of Mediterranean houses are tiled. In larger and more luxurious houses, the floor tiles are colorful and laid in elaborate patterns.
  • Balconies – Many Mediterranean properties have small balconies that provide extra outdoor living space. These most often lead off the bedrooms.

Interior Mediterranean Design

Typical Interior Design of Mediterranean Houses

Again, the interior design of a Mediterranean house will depend on the personal tastes of the occupants. However, Quality Bath ( outlines some of the typical interior design characteristics to include the following:

  • Colors – The predominant color inside Mediterranean properties is white as this is often used as the only colors on the walls. Splashes of color are added in the flooring, accessories, and textiles. The colors used to offset the white are often either earthy shades, such as terracotta or yellow, or vibrant jewel colors.
  • Textures – A hallmark feature of Mediterranean houses is the textured interior walls. They are either stucco or raised plaster to give the rooms texture and visual interest.
  • Tiles – As already mentioned, the floors of Mediterranean houses are often tiled and sometimes in elaborate patterns. However, tiles also feature in other aspects of the homes, such as on the walls or as interesting features. Terracotta and hand-painted tiles are used, and the Middle Eastern countries around the Mediterranean Sea are the inspiration for the designs.
  • Textiles – The flooring and walls are intended to create a cool atmosphere in a warm climate. Elements of warmth are added using colored textiles. Cushions, rugs, wall hangings, and tapestries are common features in Mediterranean properties.
  • Wood – Wooden features are found all over Mediterranean homes. These include wall paneling, skirting boards, kitchen units, wooden furniture, wooden staircases and banisters, and wooden fire surrounds. Some even have wooden paneled ceilings.
  • Wrought Iron – Wrought iron features are heavily used in Mediterranean properties. Window grilles, interior door grilles, staircases, balconies, and light fittings are all typical features you will find that are made from wrought iron.

Different Types of Mediterranean House Styles

Although there are many Mediterranean houses that have their own take on the Mediterranean style, most can be categorized into three distinct styles.

  • Italian Renaissance – The Italian Renaissance was in the 16th century. Homes built in this style were usually larger homes that included architectural details including rounded arches and columns. This style of Mediterranean home is generally more ornate than other styles of Mediterranean homes.
  • Spanish Revival – These homes have a simpler style than the Italian Renaissance homes. They have simpler lines with a lower-pitched roofline that is thicker and heavier.
  • Modern Mediterranean – Modern Mediterranean homes are influenced by either Italian Renaissance or Spanish Revival or with elements of both styles. They combine the aesthetic qualities of traditional Mediterranean homes with the comforts of modern living. There is often an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living.

How Do Mediterranean Townhouses Differ from Mediterranean Houses in the Country?

The descriptions of Mediterranean houses typically refer to the villa style properties found in coastal and rural areas. However, many of the town and city properties are taller, narrower townhouses. These retain many of the features of the Mediterranean houses, such as the stucco exterior walls, the arched windows, and interior décor. However, there are also some differences. For example, the ceilings are often lower so to allow for creating three or four floors to give enough floor space to the houses. Also, they generally do not have gardens. They may have a small courtyard or a roof terrace instead.

Mediterranean Houses Gardens and Outdoor Spaces?

The outdoor space of Mediterranean houses is almost as important as the structure itself and the interior décor of the property. The Mediterranean lifestyle has a big focus on indoor-outdoor living. Almost every Mediterranean house has some form of outdoor space, even if it is only a roof terrace or balconies.

Rural and coastal houses will often have large outdoor spaces that are divided into different sections. There is often a courtyard, a terrace area, a section of a formal garden, and sometimes an orchard on properties with a lot of land. Many Mediterranean homes also feature a swimming pool.

According to Gardenia, Mediterranean gardens are pleasing to the eye, low-maintenance, and water-wise. This site also says that there are key elements to creating a replica Mediterranean garden, and these include.

  • Shaded seating areas- Mediterranean people love to spend time outdoors, but they are also wise to the dangers of the sun. They carefully choose seating areas that are shaded by the house or by trees so they can sit outside without being in direct sunlight. If there is not a good area for shade, a pergola is added to create a shaded area.
  • Gravel, tiles, pebbles, and cobbles-The colors of the interior are reflected in the garden with the use of either gravel or tile. These are used to create pathways or to create an area where pots and containers are added. Tiles are also used on steps, and these are often laid in elaborate patterns that create an interesting focal point. Pebbles and cobbles are another floor feature used in Mediterranean gardens.
  • Pots and containers- Terracotta pots and containers are a common feature of Mediterranean gardens as they are easy to maintain and add a splash of color to the garden.
  • Water features- The more luxurious houses have water features in the garden. Those who recreate the Mediterranean style in other countries often choose to include these features.
  • Raised beds- There are both visual and practical reasons why Mediterranean gardens often feature raised beds. They are an attractive way of creating well-drained planting areas for flowers.
  • Topiary- Luxurious Mediterranean villas with large formal gardens often feature topiary and clipped hedges. Not only does this create an interesting green backdrop in your garden, but it is also good for creating privacy.
  • Trees- Less formal gardens may feature fruit trees or even small orchards of fruit trees. Not only are these a source of your own food, but they add an amazing aroma to your garden.
  • Flowers- The plants chosen for Mediterranean gardens must always have the ability to live in a warm, dry climate. Flowers add both color and aroma to the garden.

Even if your Mediterranean garden is smaller, such as a terrace or a small courtyard, it is still possible to include some of the typical features of the Mediterranean garden. Seating is important for you to enjoy the outdoor space of a Mediterranean home. It is possible to add pots and containers with flowers to even the smallest space to add a splash of color and a wonderful aroma to your mini garden.

Replicas of Mediterranean Houses

Although Mediterranean houses originate from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, the style has become popular in many other parts of the world. This has led to Mediterranean-style houses being built in many countries across the globe.

One country that has replicated the Mediterranean style of houses is the United States. According to Freshome, they were first popularized in the United States during the 1920s. This coincided with a cultural obsession with wealth and leisure that led to the boom in seaside resorts.

In the first instance, the Mediterranean style was only used for structures such as hotels. However, many architects, such as Bertram Goodhue of California and Addison Mizner of Florida, adopted the style for their designs. These architects believed that it was the perfect style for breezy homes in coastal locations. It remains a popular style in the United States, especially in California and Florida. However, this style of home is not exclusive to those areas.

Homes in coastal locations around Europe, Australia, and Africa may also reflect the Mediterranean style, as these homes are perfect for those who live by the sea. Therefore, if you take a vacation to any coastal area, you will probably come across homes that are built in a Mediterranean style.

Mediterranean Homes – The Final Verdict

Mediterranean style homes originate from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, although this style is now replicated in homes across the globe. These homes are designed for comfortable living in warm climates. They are easily identified from their external features, including the pastel stucco exterior walls, the red-tiled roofs, and their arched windows and doorways. The interior of Mediterranean houses can vary significantly but will usually feature white walls with splashes of color added using accessories and textiles. The outdoor space of a Mediterranean home is extremely important, as indoor-outdoor living is a vital aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Seating and areas divided into sections using a variety of materials and features is important in creating this look. It is possible to recreate the style of Mediterranean homes in many ways, even if your home is not typically Mediterranean in style.

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