Iconic Architecture: The Mediterranean-Style Home

Originally posted by christie's real estate

It is a good thing that Mediterranean-style architecture is so beautiful. Otherwise, we might ignore it, simply to bask in the warm sunlight of its terraces, or take a siesta in its cool, shaded alcoves, later to dine indoors or alfresco, and yes, why not one more glass of red wine? 

All it took was a few thousand years to notice how certain structural designs made sense for a warm, sunny climate: Tile roofs shed the rain. Thick stucco walls kept out the heat. Wide windows let in light, even on cloudy days, and admitted breezes in sultry weather.  

This edition of Luxury Defined celebrates the order of Mediterranean architecture, a state of mind regardless of locale, an idea about life and how it should be lived and lived well. Tick off the boxes: Stucco, tile, symmetrical façades, arched doors, loggias, wrought-iron balustrades, all of it architecture that creates a lifestyle. Elemental. Organic to site and landscape, to water, earth, light, and air.  

Here, then, are four wonderful exemplars of that style, in places both near and far from the vine-cloaked, sun-soaked land- and seascapes of the Mediterranean. 

1. Provençal Bastide in Gassin, Var, France 

This elegant bastide-inspired manor house and its lovely gardens are at one with the resplendent Mediterranean landscape of the Cap de Saint-Tropez.

This manor house sits in pastoral splendor amid the lush Mediterranean landscape of the Var backcountry, close to and yet worlds apart from the bustle and glitz of Saint-Tropez. 

The private, 1.5-acre setting is resplendent wooded parkland and fragrant Mediterranean gardens enveloping the main residence, modeled on a traditional Provençal bastide but with all the comforts of a contemporary build. 

Shuttered windows showcase its southeasterly aspects, welcoming in the Côte d’Azur sunlight and the countryside views. 

The central hall has a sweeping, curved staircase rising to four private suites. The living room and formal dining room are airy and bright, and look onto an ivy-clad covered loggia with an alfresco dining space and elegant lounge. Below is a pool terrace shaded by cypresses, pine, and olive trees. 

2. Far Afield in Montecito, California 

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This magnificent Mediterranean villa estate in Montecito, California, was designed in 1917 by pioneering Santa Barbara architect Francis T. Underhill. 

The property began as a vacation home for a prosperous Illinois family who dubbed it “Far Afield” from their home in Lake Forest. 

Far Afield’s 15-year restoration—completed a century later in 2017—included an exhaustive mechanical and structural systems overhaul. Among the grand architectural details and finishes are 17th and 18thcentury reclaimed building materials curated from Europe, including hand-cut French oak parquetry and antique tiles from Dutch, Italian, and Spanish sources.  

Enclosed within its stately stucco walls are 20,000 square feet of reception and drawing rooms, family lounges, as well as formal, informal, and outdoor dining spaces, a games room and a banquet-scale kitchen—with a cheery breakfast room and fireplace. A helical staircase rises magisterially to the private quarters’ seven en suite bedrooms. There are 14 full bathrooms in total. 

The estate’s 10.5 acres include Far Afield’s masterfully renovated gardens, including the original Bridal Path linking the horticultural, botanical, native, and formal parterre gardens, as well as a citrus grove and a stone fruit orchard. A separate guest house completes the amenities. 

3. Santa Ponsa Villa in Mallorca, Spain 

Sleek, contemporary fittings and finishes complement the light and airy spaces of this modern Mediterranean villa in Mallorca, “the jewel of the Balearic Islands.”

An open living and dining space, flooded with light and overlooking the terrace and the wide Mediterranean garden, is the soul of this pretty villa in the beach town of Santa Ponsa on Mallorca’s southwest coast.  

Wide, double-height windows and doors bring in the light, and an enclosed “terrarium” terrace with a transparent ceiling provides additional light indoors. There is plenty of seating (and another beautiful sea view) in the gallery above the dining room. 

The contemporary Bulthaup kitchen, with its long, wide island and wooden breakfast bar keeps the chef in the conversation around the vented induction range. Five luxurious en suite bedrooms each have a panoramic view.  

Outside, the pool has an expansive deck for entertaining or sun worship, while for the serious fitness swimmer, a long, one-lane lap pool adjoins. 

4. Lake Lugano Villa in Morcote, Ticino, Switzerland 

A loving owner’s restorative touch is all that’s needed for this charming Mediterranean villa on the shores of Lake Lugano in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, Switzerland.

Call this exuberant modernist villa … a millionaire’s fixer-upper—if only for its million-dollar location on a wooded, three-quarter acre lot on Lake Lugano in the lovely village of Morcote in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. 

All the elements are present and correct, from the eccentric turret on the clay roofline down to the pool deck and terraces of native stone, while inside gleam the exotic marble and tile floors.  

Built in 1960, the rambling, 3,369 square feet of interior space provide a vast great room with a monumental hearth, marble floors, and ceiling-height windows and sliding doors to the terrace that let the outside in.  

There are six big bedrooms and five opulent full bathrooms worthy of a royal visitor. Let the renovation begin at the ancient boat lift onto the lake, but don’t miss the timeless stone steps that lead down to it. 

All this is just 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) from the charming city of Lugano. Italian spoken here! 

Searching for a patch of paradise in the Mediterranean or closer to home, perhaps? Find it here. 

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