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Ask Casa: Books on Spanish Colonial Architecture

Hello Casa,

My dream is to buy or build a Spanish Colonial home for myself one day. I was wondering if you could recommend some books on this architectural style for me. Some coffee table books would be fine, or something on the construction of the homes too and interior design . . . anything at all I would greatly appreciate. I also remember that you wrote a post about Reese Witherspoon and that her new house was a Spanish Colonial. That house was absolutely lovely too. Thank you in advance!

Always, PeachyKeen19
To hear my suggestions for PeachyKeen19,


Hi PeachyKeen,

Thanks for thinking of me! I'm with you on this one; Spanish Colonial is one of my favorite styles of residential architecture as well. This is especially true of homes with original architectural details. There are a few books I think might be right up your alley.

Haciendas ($34.95) by Linda Leigh Paul, from Rizzoli Press (one of my favorites), highlights the interiors and exteriors of 25 Spanish Colonial homes, both traditional and modern, in Mexico and the US, and will give you a broad overview of the style. This book is quite photography-heavy, with 250 rich photos, but I think this is key for understanding the architectural elements. It also gives a great historical background on the style, with information on the hacienda's origin as homes for Spanish nobility, up to newer styles today throughout the US.
Spanish-Colonial Architecture in the United States ($16.95) by Rexford Newcomb traces Spanish architecture throughout the US, including Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. This book is a must-have reference, much more text-heavy than the former, although it is illustrated with 195 photographs and 50 measured drawings. Newcomb is a distinguished architectural historian who's written several books on various styles of architecture. This book is well-documented (no fluff here), and offers a range of perspective views, detailed close-ups, measured front elevations, and floor plans to get down to the grit of the style.
Another title out of Rizzoli Press, California Romantica: Spanish Colonial and Mission-Style Houses ($40.95) is co-authored by actress Diane Keaton and LA-native D.J. Waldie. In architectural circles, Diane Keaton is praised for her preservation of historic California homes, and considered a committed preservationist. California is basically the hub of Spanish Colonial architecture in the US, so this is a must-read even if you plan to live elsewhere. The book features residential examples of both California Mission and Spanish Colonial styles, and introduces you to influential architects like George Washington Smith, Wallace Neff, Richard Requa, Lilian Rice, and Paul R. Williams.

Beyond that, with her cinematic eye, Keaton made a point to specially commission the photography for this book, so the photos alone are must-see. The book also gives you a tour of Keaton's own Spanish-style home, which I've actually written about before.

Hope that helps! And good luck finding your dream home.



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