Stunning Santa Barbara is one of my favourite Californian cities for it's long salty walkways, majestic mountains-meet-the-sea location, it's European-esque art lined town centre, and it's Spanish Colonial architectural style of so many homes and buildings - new and old. In fact, the structures were so beautiful I wanted to break down the elements that define the style for you to incorporate into your own home. From the terracotta roofs, whitewashed archways, patterned tiles, great gardens and more, you can make a Monecito moment wherever you are.
PLASTER, STUCCO & ARCHES
Textural and architectural details need not just be reserved for new builds or renovations. Achieve these effects at home with the help of professional painter decorators and contractors using quality products, or go DIY on your walls with some great advice from your professional paint store. There's even customisable wall mural stickers that can achieve the look, but sacrifice the transporting feel of render and the subtle light and shadow it can create.
If your home already has archways and you were looking for a way to love them, this easy to live with design style embraces them beautifully. Similarly, don't fret if your home lacks the oft-desirable open plan living layout. Of course you can knock out a few walls that feel poky, but Spanish and Mediterranean interiors are masters at creating moments in individual spaces whilst embracing washed white or plastered one colour walls throughout for seamless flow.
"Santa Barbara people are conservative-not like in L.A., where everybody wears rhinestones on their glasses to show that they own an airplane factory."
S. J. Perelman
ORNATE TILE, WROUGHT IRON & WOOD
From roof tiles, floor tiles, walls tiles, to splash backs and outdoor paving, the Spanish style tile is a decorative delight that adds character, colour and pattern to the otherwise off-white walls and decor that define the style. Entryway's clad in tessellating terracotta paired with embellished tile staircase risers are made even more rustic and charming with timber treads and wrought iron handrails. Expose wooden beams, clad high ceilings in stained shiplap or bleached beadboard, and top a mantel with a generous wooden slab. Wrought iron works too as door handles and draw pulls, in star shaped and stained glass chandeliers, as well as table legs, stools and bedheads. These hard finishes add warmth and practicality, can be used inside and out, and can be a cosmetically simple but ornamental addition to an otherwise bland interior.
WARM COLOURS & A HINT OF NAUTICAL
Break down the style's characteristics and you'll find a homely, relaxed, inviting and even coastal feeling, especially given Santa Barbara's Cali coast location. The burnt orange, white and navy palette speak to summer sunsets over the sea and homes that stand the test of time and sometimes ravages of nature.
The furniture and decor to complete your very own Spanish style can juxtapose the tougher finishes, but are still hard-wearing by design. Think linen sofa covers, ticking and thick patterned cottons for upholstery, plus hides and natural fibre Oriental-esque rugs underfoot. Brass, ceramic pottery, palms and tropical plants also hint at nautical, and without getting too kitsch, a pineapple stemmed lamp or fringed Turkish towel won't go unnoticed. Bring in beach scents, a water feature, olive tree or lavender bush and you'll be expertly layering all the loveliness that this unique style lends.
"Real comfort, visual and physical, is vital to every room."
- Mark Hampton
However you work it, as always, make it your own and have fun. This is such a livable style for warm climates and large families who entertain often. It works with added heirloom charisma, with mostly black and white decor and even with more colour if that's your jam. I fell so hard for this look I now notice the sometimes ugly duckling Spanish style homes on our hunt for the dream house and see possibilities and potential, plus a home that feels timeless and transporting. I hope this sparks something in you too, and tag @vp_sam in your inspired interior inceptions!