Modern Spanish Ideas for Your Pal Alto Home in 2023

Even if your home isn’t already in the classic Spanish style, your home can still be transformed with a skilled designer and builder team. To create a stylish Spanish home, we’ve broken down what makes up this classic style and how you can make your house look like a stylish contemporary Spanish home. 


White Stucco Walls, Inside and Out

Thick white walls clad in stucco are quintessential Spanish style. When the style originated, the material was needed to retain cool air during the day and to release warmth collected from the day’s sunlight at night. It was a material easily and inexpensively available to Spanish settlers. Today, the material is more for the style than function, but its usefulness remains.

If your home isn’t originally in the Spanish style, your team can create the look by cladding your home in plaster and finishing it with a bright white exterior paint. On the interior of your home, the same technique would be applied to pull off the look. 

Small Windows

Small windows are characteristic of Spanish homes to reduce the amount of heat from direct sunlight during the day. But with modern-day HVAC systems, most homeowners today desire larger windows to fill the interior spaces with natural light while still being able to keep the indoors cool. 

Your modern Spanish home windows can be larger but still communicate the style just as well. How? Choose arched windows, tall windows with grids, or casement windows. 

Red Clay Roof Tiles

Red clay roof tiles are one of the most distinguishing features of a Spanish home. These tiles are still widely available but take a special skill to install. If your home currently has an asphalt roof, there are a couple of ways your builder can apply the clay tiles. 

First, your shingle roof was likely designed to carry a certain weight, so an adjustment to your roof’s support will need to be assessed. Second, an underlayer can be applied either after removing all of the shingles or right on top of them. Consult a professional builder to learn which method is preferred in your specific case. 

Wooden Beams

Wooden beams are both structurally necessary in traditional Spanish homes as well as adding warmth and character. Of course, these can be added cosmetically without looking added after the fact with the right builder. It’s also customary that they are stained in a darker color, which provides a nice contrast to the white stucco. 


Spanish homes are known for their incorporation of the outdoors. Courtyards, as well as verandas, are common and add outdoor living spaces perfect for dining and cooking outside. Typically, original Spanish-style homes would be designed to envelop the courtyard on three sides, but you can easily add a courtyard with a mindful design that still helps to create a feeling of enclosure. This can be done by building a stucco wall with an arched entry point out from the original home. 

Very Little Decoration

Although the decorative attributes of a Spanish home are distinctive, they’re restrained and repeated, rather than showing lots of variation and detail. To add strategic doses of decoration to your modern Spanish design, use Talavera tile within the arches, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a vibrant, colorful pattern or tiles that use only white and blue. 

Clay Vent Pipes

Meant for ventilation, clay vent pipes would typically be placed in the gables of the roofline. Your modern-day home may not need these in the gables, but can be set within the plaster to give an authentic Spanish feel. 

Chimney Towers

The chimneys of Spanish homes are adorned with a tower that’s topped with more red clay tiles, will include small arches, and may have other minimal decorative elements. This architectural element can be replicated and replace your common brick chimney. 

Stucco Arches

Stucco arches on the exterior of a Spanish home serve to distinguish different areas and also as a grand focal point at the entry gate and main entry. Carry the Talavera tile to the underside of the arches here as well. 


Spanish home interiors are traditionally dark due to small windows and barrel ceiling hallways. Your modern-day Spanish home can incorporate more light with larger windows and taller ceilings throughout. Open floor plans are desired by today’s homeowners but can be made to look more in keeping with the Spanish style with other elements, starting with stucco on the interior walls. 

Expansive Arches 

Open floor plans lend well to expansive stucco-clad arches between common spaces, like between the kitchen and the living room. Continue to carry the Talavera tile on the underside of these arches as well. 

Even More Arches

The arches continue into nearly every opening in a Spanish-style home. Include arched built-in bookshelves in the living room, arched windows, and arched doorways. Don’t use your decorative tiles in every arch inside or the patterns and colors will become overwhelming. Instead leave most of the interior arches as plain stucco to make your Spanish home more modern. 

Tecate Clay Floor Tiles

Clay floors that carry the red clay indoors are a standard in Spanish interior design. Set your square clay tiles on the diagonal to make the pattern more interesting. Or, use rectangular tiles to create a herringbone pattern. Hexagonal tile is also a great, more modern design choice. 

Iron Lighting Fixtures

Iron fixtures, from sconces to chandeliers, are typical of Spanish-style homes. Luckily, many iron lighting fixtures are available today that are lighter in appearance to avoid adding too much visual weight to your modern-day Spanish home. 

Dark Wood Stain

Dark wood stain on the doors, mantles, shelving and furniture finishes the Spanish home look. The dark color is a crisp contrast from the white stucco, which helps to keep the deep tone from looking heavy. 


Remodeling your Palo Alto home to mimic the style of Spanish homes–or to update your Spanish-style home to include more modern versions of the Spanish style–is an undertaking that only a skilled team can pull off beautifully and tastefully. Your architect and builder should work together from the beginning to determine how each element can be approached structurally and aesthetically. 

Whether you’ve already narrowed down your list of architects or you’re only in the idea phase, K.C. Customs is the California home builder and remodeler with the knowledge and experience worth bringing onto your remodeling team. We can help to guide you and your architect through the problem-solving process to make sure your project comes in under budget and on time. Contact K.C. Customs to begin your home’s Spanish-style transformation. 

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