You can have the old-world elegance of a Spanish-style living room with a few simple changes, some paint, and maybe a DIY. Find out how here.
Would you like to decorate your 1930s Spanish Revival home in a way that honors its architecture? Or maybe you’d just like the historic home. (Join the club.) Even if you live in a modern new-build farmhouse, you can have a taste of that old-world style that swept across California, Florida, and the Southwest in the 1920s and 1930s, leaving behind architectural gems for us to be inspired by (or covet; or both).
Whether you want to completely match your interior design style with your Spanish-style home or just incorporate as much of that influence into your living room decor as possible, we have you covered with these design ideas.
Exposed wood structural elements are probably the biggest hallmark of a Spanish-style home. If you already have this, thank your lucky stars and play it up. If you don’t have it, rest easy — wood structural features can be added.
Sand your current exposed beams down and stain them for a rustic timber look. If your beams aren’t exposed, follow an online tutorial to add hollow, lightweight faux beams to your ceiling with minimal difficulty. Sometimes just one or two beams can give the feeling of a traditional timber structure.
Depending on the size of the living room, you may want to tackle adding a coffered effect to your ceiling. Use a grid of 2 x 4s and plywood to cover the ceiling and create a network of faux beams. Add crown molding details and stain it all a rich, dark color.
If the whole ceiling seems a bit much, add cut wood to the top of your window casings as a rustic header for your windows. This gives the same exposed structural hand-carved beam feeling with much less headache. Add stucco-like paint to white walls, and you’ve achieved that Spanish monastic look without much trouble at all.
It’s hard to consider exposed timber construction in Spanish-style homes without venturing into wrought iron window detailing. Artistry in blacksmithing was at an all-time high in the 1920s when this style's popularity revived and is reflected in the beautiful ironwork of those historic homes.
Get this same artisan feel by replacing wood stair railings with iron. These can be ornate Windsor-style rails or straight and simple iron. Let your railing continue to the stair landing for uniformity and a more airy, open space.
If you do nothing more than add a wrought iron fireplace guard, you will have seriously upped the traditional Spanish style factor. Let the actual architectural style of your home help influence the style of guard you choose.
For instance, for 1930s Spanish revival glamor, choose an art deco design (also popular at the time) of grids and fluid curves. Or go for overlapping geometric mid-century shapes, further marrying your current home’s architecture with your intended design style.
Another way to add the rustic element of wrought iron is through antique (or modern) chandeliers or candelabras. The ironwork of your chandelier can be a simple, elegantly curved design for minimal interiors. Placing a pair of iron candelabras on either side of the room will bring in symmetry that enhances a traditional design style while adding evening ambiance.
Arches are here to stay. Let’s talk about how to celebrate the arch motifs at an even grander scale.
Tutorials abound online for creating an arched doorway in your drywall entrance where there isn’t one. It’s a relatively easy weekend project, but if your living room has more than one entrance, give an arch treatment to all of them for the sake of design unity, even if it may take a bit more time.
While it’s possible to add arched eyebrow windows to the rectangular windows in your home, it is much easier to add custom arched details above your living room windows to give the same glorious geometry of the curved arch without remodeling.
Consider wrought iron arched window grills. Many antique dealers will have multiple grills pulled from the same historic homes to top all of your family room windows. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to score a set straight from Spain. If not, custom wooden window pediments cut to the right width for your windows will give the illusion of arched windows, with no contractor necessary.
Wall niches are a European design that is still featured in new homes today. If your home doesn’t have one, consider bumping out a space in your interior wall to create an arched niche that is the depth of your wall studs.
Though niches have long been used to display family mementos and hold candles, it’s time to repurpose yours as a mail slot or leave it empty to let the curves and shadows of the space bring European elegance to the room.
An easy way to mirror the arched shape in your living room is through … mirrors. Bring a template of your exact arch to a custom glass shop to get a mirror cut to size. Luckily, many older homes have large flush-mount mirrors in hallways and bathrooms that can be cut to feature an arch.
Dreading the thought of cleaning smudges off a mirror? Consider painting an arch of similar geometry in the living roomentryway or at the end of a hallway for a little Spanish flair.
Speaking of paint treatments, if you are charmed by the look of stucco walls, get a similar feel in your interiors with mineral paints and textured wall treatments.
Lime washes may seem like the newest big thing, but they’re actually one of the oldest methods of painting and preserving buildings. Because they work best on porous surfaces, they’re a great match for bricks, unpainted plaster, or concrete. Besides providing an ever-changing wash of color over walls, they also produce a little texture — exactly the look you’re going for.
For a less textured look that’s still matte with a beautifully mottled wash of color, use chalk paint. 100% mineral-based, and VOC-free, chalk paint is another environmentally sound choice for adding a dash of Mediterranean style.
If the previous paint techniques seem daunting, you can get a somewhat old-world limewash effect by watering down regular latex paint and applying it with a brush in “X” shaped strokes that slowly overlap.
Procure a rag roller or textured paint roller that is made for this very paint effect at your home improvement store. Test the roller and brush in a corner to see which gives you the most control over your “wash” of color, then slowly apply your paint, keeping in mind that it will lighten as it dries.
Nothing says classic Spanish architecture like Spanish tilework. Even if your roof is clay tile-less, your interior can pick up the slack.
The color of the terracotta and the material itself is synonymous with Spanish architecture. The slightly uneven, handmade appeal of saltillo tiles brings an earthy quality to a luxe material.
Even rectangular saltillo tiles can add old-world charm to your living room. Decorative shapes, like Arabesque or fan-shaped tiles, can bring in interesting lines that blend an art deco style seamlessly with your Spanish design influences.
Talavera ceramic tiles, which can be found in the brightest of hues or the most subdued solids, will give your kitchen backsplash that classical Spanish style while complementing other colors in the room. Handmade Talavera tile also makes a gorgeous statement when surrounding a fireplace.
Tip: Plug home decor colors and photos of your interiors into Spoak’s color palette generator for guidance when investing in tilework.
Homes from the Spanish revival period often feature courtyards with fountains, palms, and a good deal of terracotta pottery. Bring the outdoors in with these two tips:
A hand-painted, vibrant Talavera planter is the perfect home for an indoor olive tree. Find a corner of your home that gets at least six hours of full sunlight a day to help this plant thrive.
Potted plants should be a variety you’d find in a Spanish arcade, like a majesty palm or a fern in a hanging basket.
Set a few terracotta bowls on your coffee table as catchalls. Porous clay motifs can even find their way into your living room lighting with a clay globe pendant that mirrors the shape of the crockery.
With a gallon of paint and a trip to source some wrought iron pieces, you’ll be enjoying this look in no time. The reward for your effort is relaxing in a living space that conjures up all of the mild, sunny warmth of the Mediterranean.
Photo Credit: (Left) Decorholic
We are an online interior design studio for enthusiasts and professionals. Get a real-world design education, easy-to-use tools, job opportunities, and a tight-knit community. All levels welcome.Join now