Architecture for Beginners: What is a Mediterranean-Style House?

Mediterranean-Style House

What is a Mediterranean-style house? If you’re new to architecture and home design, this may be a question you’re asking yourself. Mediterranean-style houses are some of the most beautiful and popular types of homes. But what makes them so special?

In this article, Nawy explores the history, features, and different types of Mediterranean-style architecture. So whether you’re thinking of building, buying a Mediterranean-style home, or just want to learn more about them, read on!

What is a Mediterranean-style house?

Mediterranean-style architecture is a mix of different styles from Mediterranean countries. This includes Moorish architecture, which is from Spain and Morocco; Byzantine architecture, which is from Greece; and Italian Renaissance architecture.

The architecture is known for its stucco walls, tile roofs, arches, and courtyards. Mediterranean-style homes usually have one or two stories and are made of stucco (a type of plaster).

They also often have Mediterranean features like arches, columns, and balconies. Mediterranean-style homes are also known for their courtyards.

Originally, Mediterranean-style homes were built for warm climates. But nowadays, you can find Mediterranean-style homes in all kinds of climates. Check out some great Nawy Estate Hacienda West for fabulous Mediterranean-inspired houses. 

What are the different types of Mediterranean architecture?

There are three main types of Mediterranean architecture: Spanish Colonial, Italian Renaissance, and Moorish Revival. The chalet-style is also a type of Mediterranean architecture, but it’s not as common. Let’s go into a little more detail about each one.

Spanish Colonial

So named because it’s from the Spanish colonies in the Americas, Spanish Colonial architecture is characterized by its stucco walls, red tile roofs, and wrought-iron balconies.

This Mediterranean architecture was popular in the United States in the early 1900s. By far, the most popular Mediterranean-style house in the Spanish Colonial style is the California Mission style.

Italian Renaissance

Italian Renaissance architecture is characterized by symmetry, formal design, and columns. This type of Mediterranean architecture was popular in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. You’re probably familiar with the Italian Renaissance style if you’ve ever seen a picture of the Colosseum.

But it’s not just famous buildings in the Italian Renaissance style. Many Mediterranean-style homes in the United States are also in this style, such as the ones in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

Moorish Revival

Moorish Revival architecture is characterized by arches, domes, and intricate patterns. This type of Mediterranean architecture was popularized by the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia.

One of the most famous examples of Moorish Revival architecture is the Alhambra palace in Spain. But you don’t have to travel to Spain to see Moorish Revival architecture.

Many Mediterranean-style homes in the United States are in this style, such as the ones in Santa Barbara, California.

Mediterranean-style homes: Exterior features

Mediterranean-Style House

Their stucco walls, tile roofs, arches, and balconies are unique to Mediterranean-style homes. Mediterranean-style homes also often have courtyards.

Stucco walls:

Stucco, a type of plaster, is a common material used in Mediterranean-style homes. It’s known for its durability and resistance to fire. This makes it a popular choice for Mediterranean-style homes in climates prone to wildfires, like California.

Tile roofs:

Another staple feature of Mediterranean-style homes is their tile roofs. Tile roofs are known for their durability and resistance to weather damage. They’re also energy-efficient, which helps keep Mediterranean-style homes cool in the summer.


More common in the Moorish Revival style, arches feature Mediterranean-style homes that add to their unique look. Arches can be used in doorways, windows, and even as decorative elements in architecture.


Typically made of wrought iron, balconies are a Mediterranean-style feature that adds to the home’s rustic look. In more modern Mediterranean-style homes, you might see glass railings instead of wrought iron.


Last but not least, Mediterranean-style homes are also known for their courtyards. Courtyards are outdoor areas that are enclosed by the home’s walls. They’re a common feature in Mediterranean architecture and provide a place for residents to enjoy the outdoors while protecting them from the sun and heat.

Mediterranean-style homes: Interior features

In addition to their unique exterior features, Mediterranean-style homes also have certain interior features that set them apart. Some of the most common interior features of Mediterranean-style homes are:


Nothing quite says the Mediterranean like a tapestry. Tapestries are pieces of fabric that are often used as wall hangings. They can be made of wool, cotton, or even silk. Tapestries are a popular choice for these homes because of their ability to add color and pattern to a space.


Cozy and inviting, fireplaces are a classic feature in Mediterranean-style homes. They’re typically made of stone or brick and often have intricate designs like carved mantels. Mediterranean-style fireplaces often have a rustic look that adds to the home’s overall charm.

Tiled floors

The Mediterranean climate is known for its warm weather, so it’s no surprise that Mediterranean-style homes often have tiled floors. Tiled floors are a cool and practical choice for these homes.

They’re easy to clean and maintain and can help keep the home cool in the summer. 

Stained glass windows

More common in Moorish Revival Mediterranean-style homes, some Mediterranean-style homes also have stained glass windows. These windows are often brightly colored and intricately designed.

Typically, stained glass windows depict religious scenes or images. However, in Mediterranean-style homes, you might also find stained glass windows with more abstract designs.

Mediterranean-style house: Paint colors

If you plan on painting the exterior or interior of your Mediterranean-style home, certain colors will help you capture the Mediterranean look.

Some of the most popular Mediterranean-style paint colors are:


Terracotta is a warm, earthy color often used in Mediterranean-style homes. It’s a popular choice for exterior walls and can also be used for interior accent walls.


An ever-popular choice, white is a classic Mediterranean color. It’s often used for exterior walls and can also brighten up an interior space like a kitchen or bathroom.


Blue is often associated with the Mediterranean Sea. As such, it’s a popular choice for Mediterranean-style homes, especially those with a nautical theme.

Mediterranean-style homes: Furniture and décor

Once the paint colors are picked out, it’s time to start thinking about furniture and décor.

When it comes to Mediterranean-style homes, there are a few key pieces of furniture and décor that you’ll want to keep in mind:

Woven baskets

Few things are as the Mediterranean as a woven basket. Woven baskets are a popular choice for Mediterranean-style homes because of their versatility.

You can use them to store things like towels and throws or use them as planters for your plants.

Wall sconces

Instead of traditional table lamps, Mediterranean-style homes often have wall sconces. Wall sconces are a practical choice for these homes because they take up less space than table lamps.

They’re also a great way to add extra light to a room without relying on overhead lighting. 

Paintings and photographs

Mediterranean-style homes often have paintings and photographs on the walls, like tapestries.

These paintings and photographs often depict Mediterranean scenery or images. You could emulate this by hanging a Mediterranean-themed painting or photograph in your home.

Final Thoughts

Few architectural styles can rival the Mediterranean-style house in terms of its popularity. Mediterranean-style homes are coveted for their unique features and stunning design, and who can blame people for wanting to live in one?

So, if you’re considering building or buying a Mediterranean-style home, now you know a little bit more about what to expect. Thanks for reading!

Dorothy Reynolds

I’m Dorothy! I’m a writer, an interior designer, and a house flipper. Together with my team of smart and creative individuals, we are DIY House Work!

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