4 Architectural Styles You’ll Find in Carmel

4 Architectural Styles You’ll Find in Carmel

  • The Oldham Group
  • 01/21/22
Credit: mwg.aaa.com

Even the name Carmel-by-the-Sea is enchanting, isn’t it? Carmel is a unique community that feels tucked away in nature and far from the bustling metropolis areas of San Jose and San Francisco. The area attracts millions of annual visitors, and it is home to less than 4,000. The residents here are part of a small community built on creativity and sustained by the gorgeous environment. Just take a stroll down any street and you will see gratuitous examples of such.

Here are some of the architectural styles you will find on your tour through town: 

Why Carmel Architecture is Unique

Carmel has long attracted artists to the area. Drawn to the area’s serenity, lush landscapes, and soothing sea, some of the earliest residents were artists. Robinson Jeffers was a famous American poet and icon of the environmental movement. So, it is no wonder that he built his home from the natural materials available in Carmel. Built-in 1918, the Tor House still stands today as a historic treasure. Some of the most famous artists of Carmel include Jack London, Ansel Adams, Doris Day, and Clint Eastwood was the mayor in 1986. Artists continue to come to Carmel and thrive here. The Carmel Art Association is the oldest art cooperative in the United States. So, it is no surprise then that the architecture of Carmel is as unique as it is beautiful. Luxury homes for sale in Carmel, CA are some of the best available on the market. 


The contemporary architecture of luxury real estate in Carmel, California blends natural elements, sleek lines, and open spaces to create homes that feel warm while also being airy. They have large, sometimes floor-to-ceiling, windows to harness the views of the seaside. They will have rooms dedicated to the modern lifestyle such as entertainment rooms, a home office, and drop zones. They will usually have outdoor kitchens and other outdoor spaces that blend with the home for a seamless flow. The contemporary homes being built today focus on sustainability and include smart features. They may have exposed wood beams providing the warm feeling of a log cabin. The landscape of Carmel is well-suited for contemporary design, which is likely what attracted Frank Lloyd Wright to build the Della Walker House here. Like Wright’s home, most of the contemporary homes in Carmel blend in as if they are a part of the landscape.


The Mission set up by the Spanish explorers in 1771 is an example of Carmel’s early Mediterranean history. The architectural style still thrives in luxury homes for sale in Carmel, CA due to its lavish style and connection to nature. Mediterranean homes feature large windows and abundant balconies. The patios and terraces are possibly the earliest beginnings of the outdoor entertainment spaces we crave today. They adapt well to modern outdoor kitchens. The primary feature Mediterranean homes are known for is their red tile roof that keeps the home cool during hot temperatures. The mix of stucco and brick finishes on the exterior of the property help them blend into the landscape and feel natural even though they typically have a large footprint. Their beauty shows in the ornately carved doors and scrolled metalwork. 


These cozy castles with their multiple high-pitched roofs and waves of wood shingles make you feel like you are living the life of a fairy tale. While you find cottages all over the country, the ones you will see among the luxury real estate Carmel, California are unique. Hugh Comstock designed and built the original cottages in Carmel. He was an artist, not an architect. The only reason he gave architecture a whirl was to build a home for his wife that would double as a showroom for all of her handmade dolls. The design was a hit, so he built more. Twenty-one of his cottages line the “Hugh Comstock Historic Hill District.” His cottages have irregular lines and curves. The chimney, made of natural stone, is often a focal point of the exterior and resists the confines of the traditional square-shaped chimney. The roof, overhangs, and archways are rounded and curved like waves. They look like they are in movement, vibrating with the creative energy of Carmel. 

Other Styles

While the cottage, Mediterranean, and contemporary architecture of Carmel is enchanting for a reason, they are not the only architectural styles available in luxury homes for sale in Carmel, CA. The ranch, for example, is still one of the most popular homes for homebuyers, and for good reason. The single-level, open layout makes it easy for family and friends to flow seamlessly among the primary spaces, like the kitchen and dining areas. It also allows for conversation spaces for more intimate gatherings. Because they are typically one story, they don’t overtake the beautiful scenery surrounding the home. If you are looking for a home to remodel, a ranch or split-level provides an easy base for additions. Because they are less architecturally complex, remodeling is easier. They can make great investment properties. 

How to Choose What is Right for You

Educating yourself on the common features of architecture can save you time when looking for luxury real estate in Carmel, California because you won’t need to tour homes where you know the architecture won’t fit your lifestyle. However, it is important to communicate to your realtor the architectural styles you prefer and why. It is also important your realtor understands why you do not prefer the other styles. If a property is more than ten years old, there is a good chance it has undergone some remodeling. This means a cottage could have open spaces and an open layout in the kitchen, for example. A realtor experienced in the local area will know which cottages have redesigned interiors. The most efficient way to find the best property is to know what your needs and goals are and communicate them well to your agent. 

The Oldham Group are local realtors who are experienced with buying and selling real estate in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the surrounding area. They are ready to answer your questions and help you find the home or investment property to fit your needs.



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