The sunshine in Spain is a tremendous draw for British expats and it must be said that the architecture of Spanish homes has evolved to make the most of the Mediterranean climate. The carefully designed buildings help you to stay comfortably cool on the hottest and driest days, and comfortably warm in the wetter, chillier weather. British architecture, on the other hand, is designed principally to provide warmth, and nowadays to make the most of available daylight.
Interior elements also differ and Mediterranean design ideas are readily adopted by an increasing number of British residents in Spain, not least because they suit both the architecture and the climate. Here are a few ways in which you can tailor your own home to suit the Spanish weather.
Mediterranean homes seem able to perfectly blend the exterior of a home and its interior. Colours are often reflective of the local terrain, so you might see shades of blue near the coast, for example, or green hues close to forests and hills. Natural elements are also reflected in other areas, such as wooden furnishings and woven textiles. In warmer areas, you are likely to see swimming pools, shady courtyards and cool alcoves at family homes.
Wall colours tend to be pale, often featuring cream, lavender or shades reminiscent of lemons and limes. Ceilings will often be the same colour and many Mediterranean homes have dark, highly-polished wooden beams, which make a dramatic contrast to the paler walls and ceilings.
Furniture is often terracotta or a warm shade of dark brown, brightened by the lively colours of cushions and throws. Floors are often tiled and pleasantly cool underfoot on a warm day. In fact, you will find colourful mosaics everywhere in Mediterranean homes, not just on floors and walls as they are in Britain.
Doors and windows
Unlike British homes where rectangular doors are standard, many Mediterranean doorways have arches and the doors are made of solid wood. If you are fortunate enough to have a decent view, your windows should allow you to make the most of it, and many homes use shutters to make this possible. There are plenty of different styles of window shutter available and they are easy to fit. You can choose colours and styles to complement your decor and they are suitable for any room.
If you happen to have space available, adding a balcony outside upper windows makes for a lovely viewing area, and to complete that Mediterranean touch, a great place to display window boxes full of bright flowers or a standard, potted olive tree.
Just like ceramic tiles, the creative Mediterraneans apply fabric to almost anything deemed suitable, including furniture and walls. If you are good with textiles, try your hand at reproducing this look yourself. Simply study a few examples online before you start.
Most floors in Mediterranean homes are hard, so soft rugs are common, and as with upholstery and cushions, these tend to be in vivid colours and in a variety of patterns so you can make a choice according to your personal preferences.
While British people seem to love ornaments such as fine bone china figurines, Mediterranean styles tend towards handmade objects, including terracotta or pottery bowls, and cutlery such as salad servers carved from wood. Even here, mosaic tiles make a reappearance and are used to decorate mirrors, doorframes and table tops. Creative people can really enjoy embarking on projects to customise their favourite artefacts in this way, so if textiles are not of interest to you, you could always try some decorative artwork instead.
As the Mediterranean way is to blend the outside of the home with the inside, you have an opportunity to reappraise the exterior of your home and to add a few extra touches. Wrought iron fences with fancy detailing will bring warmth to a bland building, and a few bright wall decorations in bold colours will add a cheerful note. Once again, adding mosaic tiles to an external wall is very much in keeping with Mediterranean style and you will often find them on garden paths amid the lush green vegetation. If you love the idea of a bit of embellishment, consider installing a fountain in front of your home and perhaps a quirky gazebo at the back if you have a pleasant view.
With a little bit of imagination you can easily enjoy a Mediterranean-style home, both inside and out.