For about a century, Mediterranean architecture has become a trend, particularly in the United States. In fact, Mediterranean house designs were first seen in the United States during the 1920s and its popularity started to increase significantly after about a decade since then. As we can observe, Mediterranean architecture in the United States has majorly inspired by Italian and Spanish accents. When it comes to residential buildings, Mediterranean style can be often found in the Californian region. However, in general, this specific architectural style can be found throughout the country. As of today, you can find Mediterranean homes with some modernizations as well.

Some modern homeowners prefer to add a little bit of Mediterranean accent to their houses instead of embracing the whole concept. Adding terracotta flooring with arched entryways are some of those widely used Mediterranean touches in modern house designs.

Mizner Style is Mediterranean architecture in the USA

As per the general acceptance, Addison Mizner is the person who played the most important role in popularizing Mediterranean house designs in the USA. Mizner is a remarkable resort architect who started his career back in 1918. The early stage of his career was financially supported by Paris Singer (the person who inherited the ever-popular sewing machine brand name “Singer”). Soon enough, Mizner realized the huge potential associated with Mediterranean architecture. In fact, he wanted to apply these specific architectural accents to mansions he designed. The outcome of that integration was amazing. As a result, Mediterranean home design became incredibly popular, particularly through Florida. Even today, you can see Mizner’s beautiful work throughout Sarasota. - Marsha Fottler - Addison Mizner Mediterranean mansions – Marsha Fottler

Most significant features associated with a Mediterranean home design

Now, let’s take a look at the special features you can notice in typical Mediterranean home design. These features will help you differentiate Mediterranean residences from the rest.

In general, the floor plan of a typical Mediterranean house takes a rectangular shape. Substantially larger entry rooms and grand-looking facades are other easily notable aspects associated with these designs.

When it comes to the materials, Mediterranean architecture utilizes the following items.

Red color roofing tiles

Stucco walls

Combination of limestone flooring with terracotta

Wooden brackets

Wrought iron railings etc.

An overview of Mediterranean architecture in the USA

The overall design of these buildings come with curvy windows, keystones, columns, and arches to stand out from the other designs. These elements are common no matter the design is inspired by Italian or Spanish style. Nevertheless, there are some significant differences between Spanish and Italian architecture. In the next section of our article, let’s compare Spanish and Italian designs.

The roof of these buildings come in low-pitched designs. The most popular option is to place clay tiles on this roof. Generally, these tiles come in red color. Barrel-like design of these tiles helps rainwater to flow smoothly.

The typical Mediterranean buildings usually are in white color. Generally, you get a substantial amount of sunshine in the Mediterranean region throughout the year. The white color is the best option to reflect excessive sunlight away and maintain a mild temperature inside the house. That is exactly why stucco is used as the preferred variety of material to finish the walls of Mediterranean buildings. Apart from the color, stucco protects the walls from harsh weather conditions as well.

Outdoor space

When it comes to outdoor space, typical Mediterranean residential buildings usually have massive grounds that comprises of extensive gardens. That is in contrary to the spanning front porches usually found with typical colonial homes.

Outdoor space - Mediterranean architecture
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Most of the homes that are built according to Mediterranean architecture have an extended living room.  Usually, this living room can be found towards the back of the building. In addition to that, the living room contains an outdoor loggia as well. As a matter of fact, this area is more of an interim area that combines garden and home. In general, this place comprises of few essentials such as a fireplace, wrought iron fittings, and comfortable seating as well. Thanks to the balconies and terraces they have, Mediterranean homes are always filled with a gentle, comfortable temperature.


Most of the Mediterranean building structures have fountains. In fact, Mediterranean people treated water as the source of life. The fountains found in most of these Mediterranean buildings represent that very concept. Usually, these fountains will be made out of cast stone. They may or may not come as multiple-tier structures. The circular basin placed at the top of the structure is another unique feature associated with these fountains. The homeowner can decide the location of the fountain (garden, patio or courtyard.


Courtyards are nearly an essential part of any Mediterranean architecture. These courtyards can come in various designs and shapes. However, these courtyards generally come with enclosed areas. The main building structure provides an entrance to the courtyard through the interior. These courtyards can be useful in many ways; you can use it for some cooking or sleeping.

Mediterranean house design – key differences between Italian and Spanish styles

In most of the cases, many individuals find it hard to differentiate the key elements of Spanish and Italian architecture. But, if you take a close look at a Mediterranean house design, you can note that there are several differences between these two styles.

Courtyards Mediterranean

  • Italian Mediterranean house design

When it comes to Italian architecture, the designs are inclined towards more “feminine” touch. These designs focus more on emphasizing ornamental aspects. Decorative balustrades, doors, and windows are other elements that add more aesthetic value to Italian architecture. In addition to that, Italian architecture widely comprises of brick facades and classic columns.

  • Spanish Mediterranean home design

Spanish home designs show more masculine characteristics as opposed to Italian styles. In other words, you will not be able to monitor a substantial amount of ornaments. Homes that are designed according to Spanish Mediterranean architecture don’t consider symmetry as a very important aspect. On the other hand, symmetry is one of the key characteristics that define Italian Mediterranean architecture.