An enduring influence

What would California look like without the Spanish-style house? It's hard to imagine. Since the state's early land grant days, dwellings here have benefited from Spain's signature architecture (stucco walls, inner courtyards and decorative rooftops) infused with the palette of Mexico (terra cotta, cream and yellow).

This handsome 240-page book by Los Angeles-based architectural photographer Tim Street-Porter and his wife, author Annie Kelly, captures the enduring allure of traditional and contemporary interpretations of this seductive style.

More than 30 homes in Mexico are showcased in 250 exquisite color photographs, including remodeled colonial town houses in arty San Miguel de Allende, thatch-roofed beach houses, new sculptural structures inspired by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi and sleek urban moderns a la Mexican architect Luis Barragan.

History is nicely woven into text that gives equal attention to shopping for the look today, but too many references to Anne-Marie Midy, her design company and her husband, architect Jorge Almada, make readers wonder if the sweep of the book could have been broader.

This effort follows Street-Porter's popular 1989 book, "Casa Mexicana: The Architecture, Design, and Style of Mexico," which sold more than 100,000 copies. Clearly, it's a look that's not going out of style.

-- Janet Eastman

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