What is an Adobe Style House? Here’s What to Know About the Style

by decwells
What is an Adobe Style House? Here’s What to Know About the Style


You’ve probably heard the term adobe, especially if you’re based in the Southwest or California, or if you’re a design and architecture enthusiast. But do you know what it really means? Ahead, we break it down.

What is Adobe?

At its most basic, the phrase “adobe” actually refers to the method of building Pueblo-style houses, not the architectural style itself. Adobe is dried mud brick, traditionally made from compacted sand, clay and straw (or grass), mixed with water and baked in the sun. This building material has deep roots in desert areas, such as the native Southwest as well as in the Middle East. While the original method of creating adobe bricks required months of drying in the sun, modern building materials made to mimic the look and appeal are often kiln-dried and reinforced with asphalt, lime or cement to make them stronger and more water resistant. to make.

Lauren Pressey

History of Adobe Homes

Also referred to as Pueblo-style homes, modern adobe-style homes are made to mimic traditional architecture first popularized by indigenous peoples in the American Southwest. The style first took root as early as 800 AD, when the indigenous Pueblo people relied on the building technique to create durable homes that would utilize the natural resources in their environment and withstand the extreme temperature fluctuations of their climate. protect. The materials used to make these houses could absorb heat during the day and then slowly release it into the interior of the house at night to keep residents comfortable.

preview for Design School
house in Santa Fe, New Mexico, designed by French French Interiors

Lauren Pressey

Key Features of an Adobe Style Home

Adobe-style homes first began with a unique circular shape, but soon evolved to include the rectangular box exterior we are more familiar with today. However, many of the same aesthetic features are maintained today, but with a slight update on construction to accommodate modern amenities and building codes.

On the exterior of Adobe or Pueblo-style homes, you’ll see an earthy exterior hue (often a few iterations of cream, brown, yellow, or pink), with a flat roof and rounded edges. It is also common for many of these homes to emphasize the outdoors, with a luxurious living room or courtyard where residents can connect with nature.

adobe style house

Corinne Mathern Design

Inside, Adobe-style homes focus on a fusion of form and function, trading finer finishes like moldings and trim for simplicity and natural elements meant to patina beautifully over time. Wood, tile, brick and other natural finishes are common, with square windows set deep into clay or plaster-covered walls, creating an edge. Perhaps unexpectedly given the local desert, fireplaces are also frequently seen, often with a beehive shape tucked into the corner, creating a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Exposed wooden beams overhead (also known as vigas) add an architectural element to the space and are often one of the first features replicated in reproduction Adobe or Pueblo style homes.

How to decorate a house in Adobe style

If you are lucky enough to call an adobe style home your home, you may be wondering how best to design the interior to properly pay tribute to this unique and beautiful architectural style. Well, here’s the good news: It’s actually easier than you think! When starting out, you really want to focus on a mix of beloved finishes (think: vintage wood, unvarnished brass, worn leather) and a warm color palette that relies on shades of orange, red, cream, and yellow to bring a little personality.

sarah solis design studio

Sarah Solis

Additionally, Adobe-style homes are about respect for the past and tradition, so nothing should feel too new or edgy. Vintage shopping will be your BFF when it comes to decorating your home, and you should look for items with a Southwestern flair to really tie into your home’s aesthetic. Authentic quilts, faux-hide rugs and dried desert grasses are all great ways to bring the atmosphere home.


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