Written by: Bruce Arant
Growing up, my favorite part of every summer was our family vacation. Each of those two-week trips were adventures into the unknown, as neither my mom or dad cared to be constrained by annoyances such as planning – or heaven forbid, making reservations. More than once, in fact, a coin toss at the end of our driveway determined our destiny (heads = east…tails = west) and off we would go, to see how many miles dad could rack up on our station wagon.
Those expeditions throughout my formative years made an enormous impression on me and are likely the source of my penchant for travel (usually unplanned…go figure!). That said, I have yet to visit a region of the world that, to me, is most intriguing – southern Europe, along the coasts of the Mediterranean, with its idyllic weather, beautiful people, fabulous foods (and wines) and intriguing architecture.
For me, seeing authentic Mediterranean architecture – residential architecture specifically – would hold the greatest reason for me to make such a trip (idyllic
weather, fabulous foods and beautiful people aside). Even here in America, I’ve always found Mediterranean style architecture fascinating, because it’s so different from all other styles with its crisp design lines, airy spaces, graceful arches and flourishes of ironwork details. These design elements, along with many more, grace the Mediterranean style home with an overall sense of effortless comfort and class.
Much of what contributes to the “look” of the Mediterranean style, was originally born of necessity. Stucco exterior walls (often light-colored) were and still are,
utilized to reflect heat in the region’s warm climates. Similarly, half-round clay roofing tiles on low-pitched roofs, allow the air within the tiles to insulate the home from the sun (the same sun responsible for the lovely tans on those beautiful Mediterranean people).
Stone is naturally available in the region, so stonework is a common but beautiful feature on many of the homes. Oftentimes, stone is used to create decorative arches for doors, windows or walkways. A series of repeating arches supported by columns along a walkway is known as an arcade – an architectural feature that dates back to the Roman Empire.
Speaking of ancient Rome, the Mediterranean style home often includes a courtyard, patio, or both (more design elements spawned by architects wearing authentic togas). These areas aren’t just for looks. They’re intended to be actively used as part of the home’s living space, providing private outdoor retreats for dining and unwinding. The pleasant weather of the Mediterranean region invites laid-back, outdoor entertaining year-round, but even in less accommodating climates, courtyards and patios – covered or uncovered – are inclined to be favorite areas to hang-out with friends and family, especially when endowed with outdoor kitchens and dining areas.
Among the many things that draw people to the Mediterranean style, are the tasteful, decorative details that are so often a part its character. Ironwork, incorporated into railings, or to enhance windows or doors, provides a sense of understated elegance. Likewise, painted decorative tiles are often used as colorful, whimsical accents throughout the home on walls, stairways and flooring. Occasionally, ornately carved doors are used to beautify entrances and to accentuate the home’s welcoming of guests.
Because Mediterranean style homes are built in all sizes, the floor plans can vary greatly, but they tend to reflect the lifestyles of the homeowners. With the generous use of windows, areas throughout the homes are light, bright and airy – often open, with long views through high-ceilinged rooms. Flooring is often – but not exclusively – tile, to express a “cool-to- the-bare foot” feel of authenticity.
The overriding vibe of the Mediterranean style home, both inside and out, is sometimes described as one of “relaxed sophistication.” It’s a fitting description, as the style truly reflects the spirit of this sun-soaked region of the world and captivates hearts and minds wherever it is built (sun-soaked regions or not). Here at Advanced House Plans, we offer a variety of Mediterranean style house plans in a wide range of square footages – each with smartly designed floor plans and amenities. We invite you to take a leisurely stroll through our Mediterranean house plans collection to bask in its care-free warmth, but be mindful that we also offer custom plan changes that can give the Mediterranean look to any of our other existing floor plans.
Thinking about this architectural style has me really itching to take off for the Mediterranean. I do hope to get there someday, to take it all in – the beautiful people, the fabulous foods, the intriguing homes of Italy, Portugal, Spain….any of it or all of it…I don’t really know. Exactly where I end up will depend on the outcome of my coin toss. (Mom and dad would be proud.)