The Characteristics that Define Spanish Interior Design

Spanish Interior Design

Students of interior design learn about the various elements which combine to create a specific style or decor. Spanish Interior design is one that is highly popular and it creates a specific feeling and atmosphere. You might be able to detect some of the more obvious elements even if you haven’t spent time in the classroom or on the internet researching the topic.

Examples of this architecture in both interior and exterior design are seen throughout the world, of course, in particular, in Spain, and prolifically throughout Europe and the United States. If you’re as fascinated with this style and its clean and simple lines, we’ve put together the characteristics that define Spanish interior design to aid you in identifying the elements and how they can be put together to achieve the desired effect.

Interrelationships with styles

If you’ve mistaken other interior design styles for Spanish, don’t feel bad. There are actually multiple interrelationships between Spanish homes and those also found in Moroccan, Tuscan, and French Country styles. This has been the case for hundreds of years as the countries are neighbors and their architects and interior designers have shared ideas for hundreds of years. Much of the craftsmanship bears similarities so naturally there will be some elements that one has in common with the other, but there are also elements that help them to stand apart from one another.

The basic elements of Spanish style are noted in the color palettes which make up its color schemes, the materials, their styling and the accents used. You can discern the influence of its coastal regions through the rich greens, blues and whites as well as the browns. Proceeding with the elements of color, oranges and terracotta reds are prolific in the designs as these colors go back centuries because of the tiles used from terracotta materials, producing these colors in various shades and hues quite naturally.

The Spanish styling incorporates the use of natural stone products as well as ceramics, used in the creation of accessories such as pottery, candle holders and furnishings with home accents made of wrought iron and copper materials as well as wooden panels featuring regional themes which are carved, presenting a flavor of the natural elements and products of the earth which are native to the country.

The wooden element

Many homes in a Spanish interior style feature wooden beams across the ceilings. These take on a few different forms and wood types, from simple single beams to more complicated designs that create their own designs through multiple layering. There are also wooden accents in the form of panels, wall decor such as relief carvings, wooden candle holders or other ornate designs such as picture or mirror frames and the wood that is used is usually that of a darker coloring.

Some other excellent ways to create a Spanish style include the use of carved wooden headboards in the bedroom, with matching nightstand accents, large vases in the corners, made of pottery, particularly terracotta or ceramic with colors found within the style, and even painted wooden pieces which combine several elements at the same time.

Wrought iron

Wrought iron, usually in a black color is also a popular accent material that is found in Spanish interior design. This, as with the dark wood, may also be found in the form of candle holders, more elaborate candelabras, and for the frames of furnishings. Some metal sculptures or ornate mirror frames or wall sconces as also popular elements in Spanish interior design. It is also used for creating unique lamps, tables, magazine and wine racks and much more. Wrought iron may also be used to create ornate trims and accents in countertops and other features of the home which are customized to reflect this style.


Another important element of Spanish interior design is the use of stucco texture, particularly for the wall treatments. This is a distinct flavor of the style and it may include a faux finish incorporating sponge patterns, brush strokes, or a smoother texture. Within this aspect of the style, you can incorporate a basic color with a variety of shades or hues which blend harmoniously to create the sense of texture and dimension. Texturing can also be added in the flooring to elicit the warmth of Spanish style decor, such as patterned tiles with dark grouting.

These can be used throughout the home as you please in countertops, backspashes or for surfacing kitchen islands or even on walls. Relief carvings in wood, ornate wrought iron and brass accent pieces are also items frequently found in Spanish decor. Other incorporations of this element may include framing windows in rich dark woods, either plain or carved panels or even punched tin accents. The basic elements of Spanish design are applicable to every room in the home.

The types of Spanish interior design styles

There are several types of Spanish interior design styles and when you become familiar with the elements, you’ll easily be able to discern the sub-types within the basic type. Here are some pointers to help you to be able to tell one from the other. The two major kinds are Spanish Colonial Style and Spanish Revival Style.

Spanish Colonial interior design

The Spanish Colonial Style evolved through the influences of two cultures. When colonists from Spain arrived in North America, they intermingled with local Native Americans in the Southwestern regions of America. A commingling of the Native American decor along with the Spanish style resulted in the Mission style, aka Spanish Colonial influenced by the old mission churches which were in existence in the region at the time, along with the addition of smooth stucco for the interior walls and the use of terracotta and other types of tiling, natural stone and potteries.

The most prolific colors are reminiscent of desert sunsets, the natural stones and resources of the area, desert flowers and other elements of the landscape which include reds, deep yellows, purples, pinks, white and beiges. Think in terms of earth tones along with the play of the sun in the early morning and at sunset in the desert areas. The furnishing is simple in its styling often made of carved solid woods and a more rustic approach to design. Heavy use of pottery or accents that deliver that aesthetic, wall hangings, stained glass and metal accents.

Spanish Revival interior design style

The Spanish Revival style is considered to be a hybrid of old country Spanish styling. Some of the more predominant features include classic elements of Spanish design including stucco materials for the walls, the wood ceiling beams or wooden interior ceilings, the use of dark carved wooden doors and the same accents around windows, closets, mirrors and pictures, adobe bricks, tiling for roofs and other areas made of terracotta, and a prolific use of wrought iron in the furniture, and accent pieces.

When this style began to become popular in the 1920s in America, many authentic Spanish products such as furnishings and accessories were imported from Spain for use in home interior design. Traditional tiles featuring a variety of colorful patterns, some in a matte finish, others in a glossy finish and also combinations of these elements may be incorporated into the home to create a customized Spanish Revival design.

More about colors

When you think about Spanish interior decor, consider the colors and their meanings to fully absorb the intention and understand their place within the style. Warm oranges and reds which come from the earth are represented in terracotta, the colors that you would find in the earth and in natural stones such as greys, beiges, browns, wood tones and such may also be represented through colorings added to tile accents or in painted surfaces without taking away from the desired effect.

Deep yellows such as a mustard yellow, ochres, warm dark brown tones, and deep greens are prolific colors in Spanish design. Cool colors reminiscent of the coastline including a variety of blues and greens, and the colors inherent in Southwestern design which include a variety of hues including pinks and purples with variations in the shades work well for this style. You can get a better idea of how the colors work together by doing you own research on how others have put them together. There are plenty of online resources available through Google images.

How to create a Spanish interior design in your own home

Once you understand the basics of Spanish interior design, you will have the ability to customize the elements that are used to suit your own tastes and preferences as an individual. This design gives you a great deal of freedom in picking and choosing and mixing and matching the various aspects for a one of a kind aesthetic that is unique, yet still, decidedly Spanish style.

You can go all the way and use strictly items that adhere to the form of Spanish styling by definition or you can add a few elements to flavor your current decor. If you have a staircase in your home, an ornate wrought iron banister or railing will get you on your way to transforming the decor of your home to this specific style, as an example. It doesn’t take a fortune, a remodel or a lot of money to begin giving your home a Spanish flavor. That is the beauty of this wonderful design type. It’s versatile and there are elements of other design types that are fluent and common throughout.

Summary of the characteristics of Spanish interior design

When you think about Spanish styling for interior design, reflect upon the basic elements inherent in the style. These include textures, colors, and materials. One thing that these elements share in common is a connection to the earth and its elements. The Spanish style is ornate yet it is natural, in most respects.

The materials most common are those that come from within the earth such as the metals which are mined and the raw materials used to make the clays for tiling, ceramics and pottery. There will be some overlap in a few of the elements which are also found in French Country, Tuscan, Native American and Moroccan styles, but there are distinct differences which set them apart. After immersing yourself in the basics and expanding your knowledge of Spanish design through study and looking through examples of homes/rooms to get more ideas about how to use the basic elements to create the desired aesthetic.

It is perfectly acceptable to pick and choose which elements of Spanish design you want to use in your home. You can create the sense of this style by starting with just a few changes at a time, such as accent pieces or tile/wood flooring. Sometimes the smallest details can make the biggest differences. Textures and colors will have a huge effect on the feeling that you create in your home.

Final thoughts

It’s not difficult to learn how to create a Spanish interior design. All you need to know are the basic elements and a few ways to implement them into your current decor. You can start small and make bigger changes as you go. It’s a clean and natural styling and you can achieve the look and feel with a few pieces, or if you prefer, with a total makeover, now that you are aware of the characteristics of Spanish Interior design.

You can apply this style to one or more rooms of the home and you can incorporate your own tastes with items from other interior design styles if that is your preference. Those with an eye or the design will recognize the elements immediately. It can be a lot of fun to experiment as you find unique pieces of furniture, tiling and accents that fit within the defining parameters of the style.

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