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Mediterranean style architecture and design is making a major comeback lately, offering luxury homebuyers a chance to emulate the relaxed sophistication of seaside living. This storied aesthetic has its roots in countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. It celebrates natural materials, fluid indoor/outdoor connections, and a light, breezy color palette.
After falling out of favor for some years, Mediterranean style is now being embraced by a new generation of homeowners looking to evoke the charm of an Italian villa or Spanish hacienda. The hallmarks of Mediterranean style include stucco exteriors in shades of ivory, cream or sand, tile roofing, large windows and doors opening onto terraces and courtyards, the use of arches and columns, and decor touches like tile floors, wrought iron accents and vivid textiles.
This style creates a soothing, vacation-like ambience, while still maintaining an elegant sophistication. Homebuilders like John Laing Homes are seeing a major uptick in interest, stating that "Mediterranean architecture will always be popular in California because it"s comfortable and livable." Photogenic features like courtyards, fountains and alfresco dining areas also make these homes highly desirable for social media.
Interior designer Tineke Triggs explains Mediterranean's appeal: "It manages to straddle cozy and glamorous. When you have lovely warm terracotta floors and neutral walls, it creates a welcoming backdrop that you can layer with interesting fabrics, artwork and accessories." She recommends bold accent colors and vivid textiles to liven up the neutral backdrop.
Homeowners like the Villanuevas gave their home a luxurious Mediterranean revival using warm-hued paint and finishes, arched doorways, an inner courtyard and a showstopping marble-clad staircase under a domed rotunda. "We wanted to create a mini-villa that captured the essence of Mediterranean style - open and airy, yet sophisticated," explains Mr. Villanueva.
Scandinavian minimalism is infiltrating California, blending breezy West Coast vibes with the sleek, pared-back aesthetic of Nordic design. This unexpected fusion celebrates simple lines, neutral hues, natural textures and an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
Scandinavian style is known for its light, airy interiors marked by pale wood tones, muted color palettes, and an emphasis on functionality and simplicity. Meanwhile, California is all about embracing that laidback SoCal atmosphere with plenty of outdoor living space. Marrying these two styles creates dream homes that are both relaxing and sophisticated.
Kelly Wearstler masterfully blended Scandinavian and California sensibilities in a Malibu beach house. She brought in light maple cabinetry, pale oak floors, and subtle off-white and gray tones. "I wanted the interiors to feel sophisticated yet casual," she explains, "with a muted color palette inspired by the home's beach setting." The home exudes California cool through wall-to-wall glass doors, multiple terraces, and easy indoor/outdoor flow.
This fusion style is especially popular with California's tech elite. Google designer Ivy Ross's Los Altos Hills residence artfully balances Scandinavian minimalism with the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. She incorporated ethereal spaces flooded with natural light, pristine white walls, and bare oak accents. At the same time, she embraced outdoor living with retractable glass walls, courtyard gardens and a sprawling pool deck. "I wanted to create a sanctuary that was both minimalist and connected to nature," says Ross.
Heather Hilliard, designer behind many Snapchat executives' homes, also nails this hybrid style. At a Pacific Palisades estate, she combined airy, all-white interiors accented with light wood tones to channel Scandinavian minimalism. But she blended in California ambience through wall-to-wall glass pocket doors fully opening the main rooms onto ocean-view terraces. "Minimalism meets modernism is the vibe we aimed for," explains Hilliard.
Industrial style architecture and design has come a long way from its gritty, factory-inspired roots. What was once a barebones aesthetic defined by concrete, metal and exposed ductwork has evolved into something far more refined and luxurious. Industrial chic blends the rawness of industrial style with glamorous, high-end finishes for showstopping results.
This daring fusion style is taking the luxury home market by storm, attracting design aficionados looking for drama and edge. As architect Mark Rios explains, "There is an emphasis on celebrating the structural elements that are often hidden away in more traditional homes." Exposed steel beams, unfinished concrete surfaces, metal accents and expansive walls of glass are all hallmarks of industrial chic.
But it combines these rugged features with upscale materials and details to create lavish, cutting-edge spaces. Quartzite countertops, handcrafted wood cabinetry, and high-end stainless steel appliances inject contemporary glamour. statement light fixtures and bold accent colors add modern flair. As Rios describes, "It"s about blending luxurious, elegant finishes with the rawness and grit of industrial architecture."
This unique blend provides visual interest and an aura of avant-garde sophistication. Homeowners Brian and Anne Simmons fell in love with industrial chic after seeing an ultra-modern New York loft. "We were blown away by the drama and bold originality of the space," Anne recalls. They brought this vision to their Austin home, contrasting an exposed concrete wall, steel staircase and 18-foot ceilings with opulent chandeliers and imported Italian tile.
Fashion designer Meena Harris was also drawn to industrial chic"s blend of grit and glam. Her airy, light-filled home in the Hollywood Hills features exposed wood trusses, polished concrete floors and a floating steel staircase. A sprawling marble island and bold accent wall provide an elegant counterpoint. As Meena describes, "I love the dichotomy of the rugged, urban bones softened by chic, feminine details."
For some luxury homeowners, industrial chic's masculine muscle provides the perfect foil to incorporate even more dazzling feminine elements. A show-stopping Swarovski crystal chandelier becomes a standout against stark concrete backdrops. Voluptuous velvet sofas pop against raw timber trusses. The interplay between masculine and feminine energizes these spaces.
Indoor/outdoor living spaces are hugely popular right now, allowing luxury homeowners to blur the lines between inside and outside. By incorporating expansive windows, retractable walls of glass, and seamless transitions between interior and exterior, these homes become one with their natural surroundings.
Architect Bill Rohrer explains the appeal: "When you remove barriers between indoor and outdoor areas, it makes the home feel more spacious and connected to nature." Skylights, clerestory windows and entire walls of glass bathe interiors in natural light while providing panoramic views. Retractable glass walls, sliding doors and multi-level decks further extend living areas outward.
Rohrer designed a contemporary Carmel estate using floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors to erase boundaries. "The homeowners wanted to experience nature from every room," he explains. "We created unobstructed sightlines so the forest and ocean vistas envelop you." The interior fills with ever-changing natural light, while terraces and verandas extend each space outside.
Indoor/outdoor architecture works beautifully in warm climates like California, Florida and Arizona. Homeowners embrace the mild weather by incorporating alfresco living and entertainment areas. Outdoor kitchens, dining spaces, plunge pools and firepits extend the interior footprint.
Landscape designer Joseph Marek explains, "When indoor and outdoor areas flow together seamlessly, they create a resort-like atmosphere." He incorporated courtyard gardens, infinity pools and outdoor "rooms" framed by lush vegetation at an Arizona estate. The desert palm trees, flowers and rock formations intermingle with the sleek interior finishes.
This likewise fosters an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Homeowners can easily transition from cooking in the outdoor kitchen to dining on the covered patio to relaxing by the firepit. The Miami home of footballer Luis Figo exemplifies seamless indoor/outdoor living. Floor-to-ceiling windows retract fully open onto the beachfront infinity pool.
As Marek describes, "It"s all about blurring the line between indoor and outdoor spaces. You want to create a harmonious flow between the two." He incorporated a living green wall, indoor garden atriums and water features at a luxury Malibu residence to bring nature inward even further.
Blending vintage elements with contemporary details is an unexpected choice that infuses homes with character and visual interest. Many luxury homeowners are moving away from strictly modern styles and experimenting with eclectic mixes of old and new. This unexpected juxtaposition adds depth, contrasts textures and materials, and showcases the homeowners' bold personal style.
Los Angeles-based designer Kelly Behun explains the appeal of blending eras: "Contrasting vintage furnishings with very modern architecture keeps the space from feeling too stark and sterile." In a Hollywood Hills home, she combined a sleek, contemporary open-plan layout with antique furnishings and colorful hand-painted floor tiles. The tension between eras creates dramatic visual energy.
Likewise, New York designer Groves & Co. artfully blended new and old in a Hamptons farmhouse. Wide plank antique wood floors and a weathered stone fireplace form a rustic backbone. But eclectic contemporary furniture, vibrantly colorful artwork, and sleek kitchen finishes provide an unexpected modern twist. This daring mix gives the home warmth along with plenty of high-impact style.
Homeowners Aimee and Jeremy Hays fell in love with Spanish Colonial architecture, drawn to the carved wood details, painted tiles and Old World charm. But instead of strictly historical interiors, they opted for an unexpected blend. Their kitchen island pairs antique carved legs with a sleek white marble countertop. Vintage tilework adorns the vaulted ceilings, contrasting beautifully with the home"s clean-lined architecture.
"We loved the idea of honoring the past while creating a space that still feels fresh and contemporary," Aimee explains. This harmonic blend of eras lets them showcase beloved antiques while still accommodating their minimalist, modern tastes.
When art collector Peter Mullin constructed his private gallery, he wanted a space both refined and raw. Architect David Adjaye obliged by contrasting concrete and glass walls with salvaged timber ceilings and floors from century-old factories. Mullin displays his classic automobiles against this unexpectedly gritty backdrop. The fusion of patinaed industrial bones with finely tailored contemporary details creates the perfect framing.
Blending old and new takes confidence, but the payoff is great. Contrasting sleek surfaces with weathered or antique finishes adds poignant visual texture. Curating a personalized mix of eras also conveys the homeowners" creativity and personality.
For luxury homeowners seeking an escape from urban chaos, courtyard gardens and atriums deliver a private sanctuary right at home. These inner oases allow dwellers to immerse in nature without leaving their residence.
Landscape designer Madison Cox explains the appeal: "A courtyard or atrium creates an outdoor room that provides a serene retreat from busy daily life." Enclosed by the home on all sides, these spaces feel intimately secluded from the outside world. Gentle water features like koi ponds or fountains add soothing auditory relaxation. Billowing curtains around covered loggias filter sunlight into dappled patterns, while shade trees cast dancing shadows across sunny courtyard pavers.
Los Angeles-based designer Kathryn M. Ireland incorporated numerous courtyards in a sprawling Bel Air villa she decked out in Moroccan flair. "I wanted to create a home that felt like a hidden palace in Marrakech," she explains. Intricately tiled fountains, date palms and hanging lanterns adorn the cloistered courtyards. These verdant spaces provide serene interludes between the home"s grand public rooms.
Atriums likewise establish indoor sanctuaries with their soaring vertical space and influx of natural light. Architect Ricardo Legorreta captures this appeal in the San Antonio home of businesswoman Jenna Bush Hager. A 30-foot atrium forms the home"s centerpiece, with skylights raining down sunlight from above. Jenna enthuses, "I wanted the atrium to feel peaceful and meditative." The contemporary sculpture and water wall provide a calming focal point against minimalist interior finishes.
Similarly, a massive atrium unifies the various wings of a Provence estate owned by art dealer Guy Wildenstein. The 60-foot indoor garden features olive trees under a retractable glass roof. "I often sit in the atrium to read or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee," Wildenstein remarks. "It"s a refuge where I find great peacefulness."