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Alrighty, let’s talk about San Diego and architectural styles today!

Who’s excited?! Just me?! 😉

When traveling, I love to check out the architecture of the city or the area we are visiting. This has long fascinated me. I adore the fact that cities and towns have personalities all their own and deep histories that make up these personalities. The architecture of a city tells a story. The story of a city, its people and how it all came to be. Architecture explains this history in a poetic way. It’s beautiful. It’s inspiring. 

Before we dive in, I must admit – the only photo I snapped of anything remotely related to architecture was this photo of these marble stairs. I mean. They spoke to me 😉 The rest of the photos I grabbed from Pinterest and will credit them below …

The architecture in San Diego is definitely a melting pot of style. Seeped in varying cultural influences, certain sections of the city seem to lean more heavily in one direction versus another. Yet, it’s not unusual to spot a Victorian next door to a Spanish revival style home. Nor would it be unusual to spot a home that seems to be a mashup of two seemingly different home styles.

While there are likely others, I noticed that the architectural style of the majority of the homes and buildings in San Diego largely fell in one of five categories…

  1. Victorian
  2. American Craftsman 
  3. Mission
  4. Spanish Revival
  5. Modern

Let’s explore each one!

Victorian – Originating in the Victorian Era (1830 to 1901) and named for England’s Queen Victoria, Victorian homes tend to be the easiest to spot! They share a lot of unique features including ornate trim work, bright exteriors, large (often wraparound) porches, steep gables, small turrets, dormer windows, bay windows, and stained glass. 

{photo from San Diego Magazine ~ Sydney Prather}

American Craftsman – Inspired by the British arts and crafts movement of the early 1900s, the American Craftsman emerged quite possibly as a reaction against the ornate Victorians. Quaint and charming, Craftsman features tend to vary slightly by region but most typically include a bungalow design, earth-toned exteriors, low pitched gables, porches, lots of custom woodworking, and exposed beams or rafters.

{photo from Ruby Home Luxury Real Estate}

Mission – By the late 19th century, west coast architects had begun pulling inspiration from Spanish missions (churches and other historical buildings built by or for missionaries). These homes often include broad, unadorned natural plaster or stucco surfaces, arches, deep windows and doors, interior patios with foundations and gardens, natural materials such as clay, mud, stone, and timber, brightly colored tiles/textiles and dark beams, quatrefoil windows or arched windows, and small bell towers. These homes are often very simple and minimal.

{Photo from Dibello Architects ~ Andrea Calo Architectural Photographs}{scroll through all the photos of this project for stunning imagery!}

Spanish Revival – As Americans became more and more taken with European style (from villas to palaces) this style began to take off. Because of the heavy Mediterranean influence, Mission and Spanish Revival styles are quite similar and share many characteristics. However, the Mission style has far less decorative detailing. A Spanish Revival style home will often feature a low-pitched, red-tile roof, stucco walls, carved wooden doors, rounded arches, painted tile, ornamental iron-work, tower-like chimneys, and balconies . Both the exterior and interior tend to feature rich decorative details. 

{Photo from ~ Sanctuary Architects}

Modern/Mid-Century – Departing from elaborate, decorated homes modern architects worked to reinvent ways of building that focused more on how humans lived versus what they found beautiful. This is a style that emphasizes function. Common characteristics include glass, concrete, and steel materials, straight lines, asymmetry, open floor plans, walls of glass and large windows, broad roof overhangs, and an overall lack of ornamentation.

{Photo from ~ Jackson Design & Remodeling}

As for the interiors … each of these home styles would reflect very different interior design styles as well, yet I’d say there would likely be a common thread … and that is decidedly California Cool … laid back, warm, minimal, slightly eclectic, and coastal but in more of a surf chic coastal-ly kind of way …

Well, I hope you enjoyed taking this little walk around San Diego architectural styles with me today. Next time, I’ll do a better job snapping my own photos.

Until then, tell me … which style is your favorite?

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