Diane Wilk on Remodeling your Spanish Revival

From on March 12, 2008 in General Remodel

Yesterday’s post on Spanish Revivals drew from the expertise of Diane Wilk, architect for Michael Burch Architects. Both native Californians, Diane and Michael share decades of experience designing Spanish Style homes, including their own. Today, Diane hones in on the remodeling process, with specific focus on kitchens, windows, and of course, the ever popular red tile roofs. Also, did you know that Spanish Revivals are especially marketable in the green economy? The homes feature intrinsic green qualities, such as thick walls and floors for passive solar heat storage and a layout conducive to ventilation. Here’s more in Diane’s words. How flexible can you be when remodeling a Spanish Revival kitchen? There are many exciting things you can do with a kitchen remodel. Often in period revival homes, there were auxiliary rooms such as pantries, maids quarters, etc. that can be reworked to make a larger kitchen/family room area. But even if you don’t have those extra rooms to incorporate into a new design, many things can be done to make for a wonderful kitchen. Small kitchens can actually be quite functional if planned out properly. As we said earlier, the style is so malleable, that you can do many things with the kitchen from an all white utilitarian style kitchen to an elaborately designed kitchen using bright colors and tiles. We happen to love using vaulting and beams in our kitchens to help define the character of the kitchen. Spanish KitchenDo these homes have environmentally friendly qualities? Very much so. Properly designed, these homes are very environmentally friendly. Remember that the style is based on a vernacular style that developed over time when there was no modern technology. The houses needed to take advantage of the climate and landscape to keep cool during the heat of the day and warm at night without the benefit of central air and heat. The overhangs and patios were developed to provide shade during the day, thick walls and tile floors provided passive solar heat storage that would radiate heat during the cool nights, houses opening to courtyards and sleeping porches allowed for cross ventilation. Proper use of landscape and vegetation also provide opportunities to cool and/or heat the house. What choices do homeowners have in terms of roofing material? What are the benefits/disadvantages of these roof types? Tile is most often associated with the style, so much so that the style has been referred to as the Red Tile Style. Other roofing materials can occasionally be found. Our own Spanish Colonial Revival home was originally designed with a shake roof, later replaced with a metal tile roof (in a terra cotta red color to mimic tile). The choices really boil down to which variation of the red tile roof does one use. Which window types do you recommend most in these homes? Wood casement is most often used, although sometimes metal casements were used. Stained glass, often with rondels were also used. What advice would you give to homeowners planning to remodel their own Spanish Colonial Revival homes? Which resources would you recommend for homeowners who want to learn more? Hire a good architect. Hiring a professional can seem expensive at first, but often will save you many headaches and costly mistakes in the long run. Also, good design will pay off in the end. You want to preserve or enhance your investment - not devalue it, which can happen with a poor remodel or addition. Much of our work entails fixing poorly conceived and executed remodels. Unfortunately, many times, the mistakes can’t be easily fixed. Look at the good examples of period architecture to emulate. Two great architects from the 1920s are George Washington Smith and Wallace Neef. The Steadman House “Casa del Herrero” in Montecito, CA, considered the greatest example of Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture, designed by George Washington Smith, is open to the public. Spanish Revival BooksDiane also recommends the following books:


Thanks for all your helpful advice, Diane! Like Diane said, don’t let a poorly conceived remodel cost you! Make sure a professional, pre-screened contractor brings the vision of your home to reality. CalFinder contractors are certified, and we’ll give you free estimates for your project.

Tomorrow, we’ll feature another inspiring voice on Spanish Revivals, Arrol Gellner. Don’t miss out, add our blog subscription to receive our talk with Arrol! And later in the week, famous Spanish Revival homes.