Spanish Style Homes

Spanish house on Ayer - Vendome

A home with many Spanish style elements on Ayer Ave in the Vendome district of San Jose near Japantown.

Curved terra cotta tile roofs and pale stucco walls, these are the tell-tale signs you’re looking at a Spanish style house! But what is a Spanish style home?

What makes a house a Spanish style home?

There are actually a number of more specific designs that might fall under this umbrella term. Some of these include Mission or California Mission Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Moorish Revival, Territorial or Territorial Revival, Pueblo Deco, Monterey Colonial, Colonial Californiano, and Mexican Style, but most frequently the term “Spanish Style” is used to describe the Spanish Eclectic or Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. We’ll focus on these last two as they are the most widely found designs and most of the Spanish style homes in the South Bay fall into at least one of these two categories.

Before we jump in any further, there’s a lot we can learn from these names. Revival styles draw on the look of a past era, which in this case is the Spanish colonial-era architecture of the far and south west found in historic adobes and the missions. This architecture is a reimagining, not a reproduction, of something vintage through a contemporary form. These are “eclectic” styles because the architecture does not follow any strict rules of design. Instead, it combines features of various styles, replacing or mixing elements for taste and functionality to become a kind of hybrid design.

What does this mean for the average homebuyer / homeowner?

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Beautiful Spanish Style Homes for Sale in Silicon Valley

Spanish style houses evoke a kind of nostalgia for “old California”, and when we think of local history, homes with a Spanish type of architecture seem most appropriate, especially if the landscaping reinforces it – things like bougainvillea, hibiscus, ferns, palms, roses and citrus trees.

California features different types of Spanish style homes

There are a number of Spanish styles found locally and throughout California: Spanish Colonial Revival, Spanish Mission, Spanish Eclectic, Mediterranean, and Monterey, which is the only archietectural style hailing from California (and admittedly is a hybrid).

Where to find classic, older Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley

Some neighborhoods, like downtown San Jose’s Japantown and many of the older areas in Willow Glen, are filled with beautiful Spanish Revival bungalows which were mainly built in the 1920s and 1930s. The largest collection is probably there, close to Lincoln Avenue and near Bird & Minnesota Avenues, and especially in the “Palm Haven” neighborhood of Willow Glen.

More can be found in the older parts of San Jose’s Alum Rock Park (up by the country club), in Santa Clara’s oldest neighborhood (by the university), in downtown Los Gatos and downtown Palo Alto, more in south county, especially Gilroy, and scattered throughout the Santa Clara Valley.

What about newer Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley?

There are some newer houses and homes with a Spanish flair, but for the most part it’s limited to the exterior (or “elevation”). The interiors of most Spanish style homes built since 1950 are not at all Spanish style. There were a number of Spanish style tract homes built in the 70s and 80s, but they are essentially ranch style homes with a Mediterranean elevation only.

Too often, the very newest homes don’t seem to know what style they’re trying to reflect at all, but tile and stucco and a few arches are thrown in to attempt something generically Mediterranean. In the last 20 years, many builders have created neighborhoods with varying home styles – the same floor plans but varying styles on the exterior such that one is pseudo Spanish, another is pseudo Craftsman, another is pseudo English cottage or Tudor. Home buyers may get to choose which “style” they want if they get in before it’s built.

Resources for Spanish style homes in the San Jose area

Fabulous books can be found to help restore and remodel these homes. Older houses need remodeling for practical reasons, and the younger ones can benefit from it to make them more authentically Spanish styled.

Meanwhile, if you love Spanish style homes of all ages, you’ll find plenty of classic older ones around here (all pre-1950). Unfortunately this search tool does not allow me to constrain results to the style of home, so there will be some Victorians and Arts and Crafts homes in the mix below.

 

 

For more reading:
Spanish Revival Style Home in Japantown Features Classic Tile Bathroom