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DESIGN OBSESSIONS: HEARST CASTLE

California may not be the first location that comes to mind when you hear the word “castle.” But then again, Hearst Castle stands entirely in a league of its own.

Built on the Central Coast of California by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle is a stunning, larger-than-life estate comprising 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. The expansive estate was designed in collaboration with Julia Morgan, the first woman to hold an architect’s license in California, and now functions as both a California and a National Historical Landmark.

Every year, swarms of tourists flock to Hearst Castle—and for good reason. It’s considered an architectural wonder, brimming with glamour, history, and art. It’s also a great place to soak up inspiration for your own dream home.

Here are a few of our favorite reasons why.

SPANISH REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE

When Hearst first considered building his home, he weighed many different architectural styles, including Japanese and Korean. Ultimately, though, he decided to stick with a European influence, particularly inspired by the buildings and cathedrals he had seen when traveling in Spain.

The estate’s main house and three guest cottages were all built in this spirit. They feature clean white exterior walls offset by terra-cotta roof tiles, ornamental ironwork, arched arcades, and tranquil courtyards. Together, this creates an environment that is equally elegant and inviting.

In California, Spanish Revival architecture has a storied history, and still enjoys great popularity today. If you’re looking for old world charm with classic California roots, Spanish Revival might be right for you.

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MAJESTIC STAIRCASES

Majestic staircases are another main design element that can be seen throughout the property. Utilized both indoors and outdoors, these stunning staircases mix form with function perfectly. We’re particularly fond of the outdoor staircases, which often use natural materials and curve in a way that mimics the rolling hills surrounding the property.

Additionally, the staircases were built with the property’s panoramic view in mind; many of them even have lookout points perfectly poised for breathtaking glimpses of the coast.

TALL CEILINGS

The interior of Hearst Castle is often described as “grand,” and one of the reasons for this effect is the tall ceilings. In fact, the dining room’s ceiling is over thirty feet high!

But the height is not the only reason why Hearst Castle’s ceilings are so grand. They’re also often decorated with unique carvings, paintings, or mosaics. Hearst’s private study even includes a vaulted ceiling with Gothic-style arches.

Even if a space is small or dark, tall ceilings can help open it up and give the room the appearance of being larger and airier. It’s also worthwhile to remember that even something that’s often disregarded, like a ceiling, can become a canvas for gorgeous design.

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AN UNFORGETTABLE POOL

Hearst Castle boasts not one, but two striking pools: the interior Roman pool, and the outdoor Neptune pool.

While the two pools are completely unique, they are similarly stunning, with intricate tile mosaics, custom statues, and opulent marble. The Neptune pool features cascading waterfalls and the façade of a Roman temple. The Roman pool was designed for relaxation, and modeled after the Roman baths.

But Hearst’s famous pools served an even greater purpose: in addition to recreation and exercise, the pools were used as the setting for lively parties, and this is a great reminder for your own custom home. Even when your pool is not in use, it can still function as a focal point. Better make it spectacular!

SPACES DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR FUN

Though Hearst clearly wanted his home to be an elegant haven for himself, he also wanted to share that feeling with others. And he wanted his guests to have fun, too.

In addition to the pools and impeccable gardens, Hearst Castle features a billiard room, a massive library, a curated wine cellar, a zoo, and a private movie theater. And while having all of these luxuries may not be practical for your own home (particularly the zoo), we love the idea of reserving space for fun, casual gathering and long-lasting enjoyment—especially when updated with state-of-the-art technology and modern aesthetics.

Your custom home should be your own private castle, and we’re excited to help you build it. To get started, contact Smith Brothers today!


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