Spanish styles integrate Roman, Byzantine, Moorish, Renaissance, and other Mediterranean traditions with various traditions of the Americas.  Unlike Spanish high-style architecture, American Hispanic architecture remembers the soldier craftsmen and the American Indian laborers who charmingly simplified the high style Spanish.  Much favored by architects from Florida to California—and occasionally as far north as Maine— Spanish Eclectic styles continues to borrow from everywhere: Catholic Missions, California Ranchos, the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition, pueblo adobe houses, folk forms, stripped classicism, et cetera.

Adobe is the ancient tradition of building from the mud of earth, Samaria to Pithom to Cadiz to Pueblo.  The word, “adobe” originated in Egypt (“db”); the Spanish added an “a” to beautify and to ease pronunciation, then applied the word “adobe” to the mudbrick dwellings of the Pueblo.  Spanish houses might be tropical, subtropical, or arid, suited to desert environments, Cadiz to Tenochtitlan to Arizona.  Typically, an adobe is whitewashed mudbrick with thatch on a pole roof, with unadorned openings for window and door.  The adobe of Hopi and Pueblo were communal houses stacked one above the other, stepped back in upper houses or floors, entered by ladders.  The Spanish adobe are Classive, typically unique to a single family, subdivided into private and public rooms, as houses become larger.

Here and there you might find in the Spanish styles some memory of the Aztec, that war-like people who violently subdued their neighbors causing the animosities that enabled Cortez’ to efficiently conquer the Aztec Empire (Mexico).  The Pueblo Revival, Old Santa Fe style was initiated at the University of New Mexico (circa 1908) with excellent examples found Florida to California.  Mostly, the Spanish Adobe house recalls the Pueblo of New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona, their aesthetically simple, aesthetically pure houses: earth, walls, roof, window, door without ornament, a simple expression of construction and use.  

Adobe House In Precedent

Adobes of the Hopi Pueblo.
Mediterranean courtyard houses.
The 1915 Panama-California Exposition (San Diego).

Adobe House Characteristics

Facades are simply stuccoed white or beige.
Flat roofs.
Plain, heavy wood doors and shuttered windows.
Darked wood corbels and rafter ends show stark against light stucco.
Soft walls and round corners recall the hands that formed them.
Second or third floors are often stepped as in the Hopi or terraced as in the Spanish.

Adobe House Features

This Spanish Adobe home introduces Palladio to Santiago, Pueblo plazas to Pompeii courtyards.

Tightly designed, this efficient house will be inexpensive to build, suitable to a busy family that enjoys togetherness and seeks solitude.  The interiors will like simple decoration, some bands of color to punctuate the whitewalls and the red-brown wood of column, rafter, cabinet.  The rooms are cozy, shaded from staring sun.  Even the courtyard is cozy, bordered in bright blooming flora and lifegiving edibles.  Rafters moderate sunlight in porches.  Windows are sized to measure heat and light.  The two bedrooms serve study and sleep.  And this house is designed for aging-in-place—all the essentials are on one accessible floor easily maneuvered, simply enjoyed.  The master suite is private, elegant, spacious.

This adobe house could be handmade by the owners, all at once or in several stages.  Many good books on adobe construction are available, a few of which will be featured in a future article at The Beautiful Home.


Adobe House

Adobe House, Plan and Elevation. M. Curtis, designer



Plan #43

1,871                          Total Square Feet
12-0”                          Height
51’-6”                         Width
53’-6”                         Depth
10’-6’                         Ceiling (GR)
3                                 Bedrooms
3                                 Bathrooms


Adobe Garage

Adobe Garage Elevation. M. Curtis, designer

Room Size

Living Room                16’0” x 20’-0”
Kitchen                         16’-0”” x 8’-0”
Dining Room               16’-0” x 16’-0”
Master Bedroom        16’-0” x 12’-0”
Master Bath His-Her 5’-6” x 8’-0”  (2)
Entrance Hall              17’-6” x 9’-6”
Laundry                        5’-6” x 6’-0”
Bedroom 2                   16’-0” x 10’-0”
Bedroom 3                   16’-0” x 12’-0”
Bathroom                     12’-0” x 8’-0”
Courtyard                    15’-6” x 21’-6”
Front Porch                  11’-0” x 6’-6”
(potential solar panels above)
Garage                           12’-6” x 22’-0”



Energy Efficient Design
adaptable to solar water, electrical, and fan
open floor plan
economical to build
kitchen island
main floor bed & bath
main floor laundry
covered front & back porches
side-entry garage
wheelchair adaptable


Other Beautiful Spanish Eclectic houses include:

#43 Las Cruces, Spanish Revival
#84 Pomona, Spanish Colonial
#35 Mission Revival


Featured image: Plan #5, Spanish Colonial, Santa Fe, Elevation. M. Curtis, designer


*   *   *