To British ears, the word ‘villa’ is almost always associated with a detached holiday home in sunnier climes. These large, relatively luxurious dwellings are where we stay (if we’re really lucky) when we visit the Mediterranean or Florida, but can also be found in Scandinavia or Germany. During Roman times, however, villas were an architectural staple even in Britain, usually denoting substantial wealth and power. Nowadays, similarly spacious, grand or ostentatious homes in the UK tend to be known as mansions, or, simply, detached homes. The typical characteristics of a villa today are terracotta or clay roof tiles, whitewashed or earth-coloured walls, a generous tropical garden and probably a pool. Palm trees, pillars and a balcony or two will complete the look. Due to the fact that the weather is generally terrible in the UK, these homes are a rare occurrence back in Blighty—unless you’re a footballer or some other such crass celebrity. If you’re keen to know more about villas, check out homify’s visual library—there are hundreds of homes to inspire and delight!
If you’re keen to build yourself a villa, it’s important you do some research in order to find the style that’s right for you. As these homes evolved in warm climates, the typical features reflect this and therefore may not suit every UK location. One of the most popular villa styles out there, and probably the one most coveted by holiday makers or retired expats in Spain, is the Tuscan or Mediterranean example with its distinctive clay tiles, arched windows and well-manicured grounds. Traditional-style villas tend to veer even further into the realms of palatial, with multiple storeys, symmetrical design, columns and balconies. As many villas are used as international holiday homes, they tend to be built on the coast with dazzling sea views. These dwellings tend to feature such typical beachside characteristics as whitewashed walls and open terraces. Tropical and Arabic-style villas offer thatched roofs and palm trees or epic palatial proportions respectively. You could even opt for a modernist contemporary-style villa with a less rustic and more cube-like form.
If you’re seriously thinking of investing in your own villa, there are some practical considerations to bear in mind first. First and foremost, remember that you live in the UK where a) it always rains, and b) house prices are extortionate. If these two things don’t put you off—you’re good to go! One of the main selling points of this type of home is that they’re fundamentally designed for relaxation and luxury. You’re bound to have a lovely time if you’re holed up in a multi-level, palm-fringed abode with ostentatious balconies and columns. Other advantages are the same as for any large detached home—plentiful outdoor space, lots of room on multiple storeys and decent views from the upper windows. On the flipside, a potential drawback to these types of homes are that they may not be practical for year-round living. Being sizable properties, they’ll also set you back a hefty sum when you buy or build, and maintenance costs and bills won’t come cheap, either.
How long’s a piece of string? If your heart is set on acquiring a fancy villa, first up you’ll need to do some thorough research and enlist the help of an architect to guide you through the process. Start by getting yourself a free consultation on homify—this should answer your preliminary questions and set you on the right path. In terms of ballpark figures, the average price of a UK home is now around £300k. This will vary hugely depending on the location and type of house you’re interested in, but gives you a rough idea of what you’ll need to spend. As villas are towards the luxury end of the housing scale, they’re likely to cost more, not less than this figure in reality. If you’re looking to build one yourself, you’ll need to take into account land costs, plus labour and materials. Again, ask around and compare your quote to that of other local projects to make sure you’re on the right track.