4 Most Popular Architectural Styles for San Clemente Real Estate

4 Most Popular Architectural Styles for San Clemente Real Estate

  • The Lynch Group
  • 06/24/22

Located in the southernmost part of Orange County, San Clemente, CA, is a beautiful coastal city revered for its abundant sunshine, stunning ocean cliffs, and gorgeous beaches that are said to be among the best in Orange County (especially for surfing!). It’s no surprise, then, that San Clemente has origins as a resort town where city dwellers could find respite from the hustle and bustle of urban living. In fact, this now-19-square-mile city began as a 2,000-acre parcel that, in 1923, was purchased by financier Hamilton Cotton, who enlisted land developer
Ole Hanson to create a Mediterranean-inspired coastal escape—a "Spanish Village by the Sea."
Between 1925 and early 1928—when San Clemente made its official debut as an incorporated city—Hanson set to work bringing the vision to life. One of his first orders of business was the creation of Casa Romantica, the development’s cornerstone building that also served as Hanson’s private home. Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the sprawling bluff-top estate was (and is!) characterized by a red-tiled roof, white stucco walls, inviting archways, courtyard paths, and verdant landscaping. The rest of the homes within San Clemente were similarly constructed, ultimately creating a quiet hamlet (complete with its own beach club, community center, pier, and plaza) that stood in gorgeous contrast to its untamed coastal surroundings.
Nowadays, Casa Romantica is a registered historic landmark and functions as a cultural center, while the development’s remaining dwellings continue to serve as a tangible link between San Clemente’s past and present. The Spanish Colonial Revival style isn’t the only style of architecture you’ll encounter during your search for San Clemente homes for sale, however. The city’s signature style has since been joined by midcentury modern, Art Deco, and a handful of other architectural styles to impart an eclectic look and feel to this storied seaside town. Read on to learn more about the different architectural styles of San Clemente real estate.

Spanish Colonial Revival

As discussed, the Spanish Colonial Revival style is the architectural style most associated with San Clemente. This style often has a white stucco or brick exterior with red shutters around arched windows and entryways. It’s common to spot exposed wooden beams on interior walls as well as terra cotta tile floors, though other colorful tiles can often be found! It’s also common to come across Juliette balconies, another element that allows the Spanish Colonial Revival style to stand out from other types.
Many credit the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 in San Diego, CA, for introducing the style to the states, where, during the next 15 years or so, it became one of the nation’s most popular architectural styles. The Spanish Colonial Revival style was most readily embraced in Florida and Southern California, as the style’s key features provide cooling relief from the sun as well as promote an easy flow between inside and outdoors. Courtyards, for example, allowed residents to tend to plantings or perhaps a fire, while patios and terraces provided a comfortable setting in which to enjoy pleasant weather and the company of friends and family.

Coastal Contemporary

For an architectural style that fits right at home in San Clemente, look no further than the sunkissed beaches and bright blue skies that surround you. Coastal contemporary is known for clean lines, natural materials, and bright lightning—it’s all about going bold by staying simple. Look for buildings that feature straight forms, airy, open spaces, and slick rooftops. Stick to neutral colors; bare walls look great with accents of turquoise, coral, and seafoam green, or as a backdrop to a coastal-themed piece of wall art.
When it comes to lighting, the brighter the better. Go for industrial lights made of stainless steel, polished chrome, and aluminium, which look great in such a clean and contemporary design. Floors made of timber and sisal also contribute to the laid-back yet Californian cool sensibility of this style; consider adding woven rugs or chevron throws to truly add to the vibe. Coastal contemporary takes inspiration from the coolness of the ocean’s breeze as well as the warmth of the sands. Keep your eyes out for San Clemente homes for sale that make you feel like you’re always right on the coast!

Midcentury Modern

The midcentury modern architectural style was especially popular in the middle of the 20th century, from the mid-1940s to just before the 1970s. The style has regained popularity in recent years, thanks, in part, to shows like Mad Men that captured the zeitgeist of 1960s America and thrust it back into the mainstream.
Buyers looking for San Clemente real estate can recognize midcentury modern homes by the style’s defining characteristics: clean lines and right angles, lack of ornamentation, and extensive use of glass to connect the interior with the exterior and draw in copious natural light. Other clues include split-level layouts and open floor plans.
Among midcentury modern styles, there are three known design sub-styles: contemporary, international, and organic. Contemporary is arguably the most well-known and easily recognized style, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and emphasis on clean lines. The international style places emphasis on simplicity and minimal decoration. Finally, the organic sub-style focuses on natural shapes and lines. Organic San Clemente homes for sale are more commonly found in wooded or desert settings, as this architectural sub-style gives thoughtful consideration to a building’s placement and design as they relate to the structure’s natural surroundings.


If you remember The Jetsons or are familiar with Seattle's Space Needle, Disneyland's Tomorrowland, or the original McDonald's, you’ve seen Googie architecture. Googie architecture started in Los Angeles in the 1950s and remained popular for about 25 years. This modern style is known as futurist design's "golden age," when people in a post-WWII world were dreaming of what a post-space exploration society might look like. That said, this style was all about embracing the future.
The defining features of Googie architecture are pointy roofs, star fins, and boomerang shapes. Additional features that can help buyers spot Googie San Clemente real estate are the inclusion of dramatic angles and curves and the use of neon, plastic, and steel. The retro-futuristic style is most commonly seen in coffee shops, diners, car washes, gas stations, and banks rather than in homes, so this style is more likely to appeal to real estate investors interested in unique commercial property.

Contact The Lynch Group to start your San Clemente real estate search

If you're interested in owning a property with a unique style, San Clemente is the perfect place for you. With so many different styles to choose from, there's something for everyone here, but especially for fans of Spanish Colonial Revival and retro home designs.
San Clemente is more than just a city for architecture buffs, however. It also boasts a convenient central location between Los Angeles and San Diego that gives it an out-of-the-way feel without being too far off the beaten path. Additionally, San Clemente boasts a bustling downtown district (affectionately dubbed the “Pier Bowl”) that’s just steps away from the historic pier originally built by Ole Hanson almost a century ago. The downtown area is home to specialty boutiques, trendy restaurants and breweries, and many other businesses that energize this otherwise quiet coastal city. And of course, we can’t overlook San Clemente’s beautiful beaches, which have become famous for their excellent surfing, lack of crowds, and ample amenities.
Buyers interested in San Clemente real estate are sure to want to close on homes for sale well before 2025 when San Clemente will celebrate its centennial. In 2028, the city will celebrate 100 years since incorporation. San Clemente is ready to welcome residents who appreciate its rich history and unique architecture, but new residents of historic property should note that they must abide by the city's regulations for renovations and expansions.
To inquire about San Clemente homes for sale, reach out to one of our trusted agents from The Lynch Group. With more than 105 years of experience between us and $900 million in sales, we possess the experience and know-how necessary to help you find your dream home in this beautiful area.

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