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Choosing Colors for Spanish Mission-Style Homes

by Kate Smith, Color Expert and Trends Forecaster

Spanish-style homes foster a connection to nature and have strong Latin influences. A key tip is to always choose color and design elements that fit with the distinctive style rather than fighting it.

Toned down and neutral colors reminiscent of sand, wood and clay work well on this style of home. Wrought iron is a primary element that is used for banisters, lighting fixtures and accents. Generally built with thick stucco walls and clay tiled roofs, Spanish homes may have courtyards that are enclosed to extend the home's living area and merge with the environment.

When selecting colors, begin with the roof and work your way down through each element on the exterior.

Warm clay and brown tones are appealing colors for the roof. Impact- and fire-resistant polymer tiles, like those from DaVinci Roofscapes, give a nod to the colors historically seen on a Spanish Mission style of home without the problems inherent in traditional materials.

An entranceway may be decorated with colorful ceramic tiles that give character to the home and inspire the color scheme. If the home you're building has a unique feature, you will want to think about how you can best highlight other exterior elements with the colors you select.

THD-4262 The Cariati

THD-4262 sports Spanish design elements including a unique shape, decorative entranceway details, flat trim around windows, and a tile roof. The beautitul range of earthy colors starts with the natural roof and continues down through the stucco and stone siding.

Spanish Style History Lesson

The exterior of a Spanish-style home was originally covered with stucco and this dictated the color. The stucco was a mixture of lime, sand, and water. The color of the stucco came from the aggregate. Lime was usually white and thus so were many of the original Spanish-style homes.

Any variation in color came from adding local pigments to the aggregate. The results were light tints of the colors found in the desert. In keeping with that tradition, I recommend you select a neutral for the main color that is reminiscent of the traditional stucco homes.

On Spanish-style homes the combination of trim pieces that surround the windows tend to be simple and flat. The trim is most often painted in brown, terracotta or another rich hue inspired by the desert.

A muted orange-based trim color can blend with terracotta or brown roof tiles. Stained wood or deep brown paint is another staple color for the Spanish Mission style home.

Shutters, when used on a Spanish-style home, were mounted on the interior of the home rather than exterior. Most houses have only a single color on the trim around the windows and no exterior shutters.

Fypon Rough Sawn Cedar Shutters

This southwestern-style home has a pop of color thanks to its Rough Sawn Cedar Shutters from Fypon®. Spanish style brought to different environments experienced some changes, like the addition of exterior shutters, but the favored color scheme remains the same.

Colorful Spanish Style

In Spanish folklore it is said that painting the front door a shade of blue stops evil spirits from entering the home. This fun conversation starter, along with the fact that blue is perfect with the desert-inspired hues already mentioned, can make it a nice choice for this style of home’s front door. Green, aqua, magenta and golden yellow are other popular choices.

One of my favorite hues of azul (the color blue in Spanish) is sueños, a sun-washed blue whose name means “dreams.” This lighter blue shows up in the shadows of an alcove or other area that is shaded from the sun.

With their colorful roofs and clean lines, a little color can go a long way on a Spanish-style home. If additional colors are needed, add them. Just always have a reason for the additional color. For example, adding color to call attention to the entrance or best features of your home is usually a good reason.

THD-4127 Rembrandt House Plan

With its subdued natural coloring, from light stucco siding to the rich terracotta roof, THD-4127 is a model of Spanish Mission design.

Tips for Creating Spanish-Style Appeal

Southwestern style is built upon a minimalist approach. Less is more in this genre of design, so select pieces that make a statement—but not too loudly. Going full-on southwest with natural stone or stucco walls can be stunning. Be careful not to overdo the 'theme'; opt for subtle hints of this style, rather than an overpowering feel.

As a builder, there are many ways you can extend the beauty of your Spanish-style home beyond the home's exterior. Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Design an outdoor space that drips with warmth all year round by taking elements directly from nature and adding a mix of subtle and bold color choices.

Tip #2: Mix the Arizona or New Mexico laid-back feel of soothing sunset oranges and muted reds with the bold yellows and turquoise blues to create a space that is both vibrant and relaxing at the same time.

Tip #3: Pay attention to the colors of your wood tones in fences, furniture or other areas. Natural elements from stone or earthenware are also welcome additions in this style. These would be perfect to include in the outdoor areas.

Tip #4: Color pops are an easy way to call attention to a feature. Use colors like turquoise or red-orange for added vibrancy. Take note of the little details for an authentic look and feel.

Tip #5: To keep the warmth glowing year-round, think of installing a beautiful fireplace, soft outdoor lighting and a few adobe red cushions against warm teak wood. These little touches will make the outdoor space feel intimate, inviting and never boring.

Southwestern or Spanish style, awash in the fantastic color palette of a desert home, will create spaces that invite your homeowners to enjoy the unhurried hacienda lifestyle that inspired the flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. When done well, this is a timeless style that will remind your clients of sunsets, warm fireplaces and nature’s best.


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