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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Spain, Italy influence Eclectic homes

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

We are continuing our discussion of the Eclectic movement in residential design. The influence of European design is readily seen in many American homes. Today we will see how architecture from Spain and Italy has shaped the homes in our neighborhoods or even the one in which you live.

Spanish Eclecticism and a close relative known as Mission Style were prevalent from 1915-1940. Homes influenced by Spanish architecture have low-pitched roofs with little or no overhang. Red tile roofs are typical. A prominent arch will be placed over the entry door and/or a prominent window. The typical finish material is stucco, and the massing is usually asymmetrical. Mission homes have similar elements, though these homes have wide eave overhangs.

This type of architecture is prevalent in some of our neighboring states, such as California and Arizona, as well as in the southern part of Utah. These areas lend themselves particularly to this type of design because their climates closely resemble that of the countries of origin — Spain and Mexico. Even in northern Utah we see this type of architecture, though roof styles and pitches should be carefully considered when designing for snow country.

This Salt Lake home built in the early part of the 20th century exemplifies the Eclectic Movement. The influence of Spanish architecture is seen in the tile roof, minimal roof overhang, stucco walls and arched accents.

One of the most popular design looks at the moment is influenced by Tuscan and Andalusian architecture. Tuscany is one of the regions of central Italy. Anciently, it was called Etruria. The inhabitants of this area, known as Etruscans, created an advanced infrastructure of roads and cities. This area was incorporated into the Roman Empire in the third century B.C. The Etruscans provided the arch, and the Romans took the concept to create many ancient architectural wonders.

Andalusia refers to an area in southern Spain that was controlled from the eighth through the 15th centuries by the Moors. Muslim by religion, the Moors were tolerant of both Christians and Jews, so many cultures contributed to the architecture of this area.

Villas from these areas have been reproduced in America in the form of palatial residences and mansions, but it is the ideal of the 15th-century farmhouse that inspires the currently popular Tuscan design. This style was adapted and popularized by Southern California developers who saw the similarity of their climate and hilly topography to that of southern Italy and Spain. Though we in northern Utah lack these common natural elements, through the magic of mass communication (think HGTV) and design magazines, the Tuscan style is alive and well along the Wasatch front.

The vernacular (or common) structures from which this style is taken were compact and practical. Often they were actually farmhouses, with barns on the ground level and living quarters above. Gabled roofs, tall narrow windows, and small towers are typical. Andalusian design is a mixture of Spanish and Arabic styles. This influence is basically cube-like structures with whitewashed finishes and interior courtyards. Elegant touches softened the harsh geometry of these structures, such as courtyard fountains, sloping tile roofs, domed cupolas, and short turrets. Interior features include exposed beams, vaulted ceilings, arches, and rounded corners on plaster walls.

It is easy to see these influences in new homes in our area. Care must be taken to have a carefully thought-out design to make sure the home is appropriate for our Northern Utah climate, and that each interior and exterior element is well integrated into the design. The goal is to have a home that is well designed, not well decorated a la Disneyland. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2007 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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