Join the Mexican wave with bright colours, Aztec-style patterns and earthy tones to teleport you to sunnier climes
Spice up your home with splashes of beautifully patterned furnishings, tiles and ceramics
Between windswept tropical beaches and charming, colourful towns and cities, Mexico delights on so many levels. I remember lots of wonderful things from my trip there over 10 years ago but one thing that stands out is the vibrant colours. Frida Kahlo’s ‘Blue House’ brimming with tiles and colourful Mexican ceramics, small rural villages that, despite their size and humble beginnings, practically shouted with confidence through their use of bold colours splashed across buildings and homes.
The colours used in the typical striped blankets called serapes are mimicked everywhere, from hot pinks, golden yellows and turquoise blues, and a rich cultural heritage and skilled local artisans ensure interiors remain true to their deep cultural roots. The blending of European architecture from the Spanish missionaries and conquistadors who came to colonise, and the work of native tribes, including the Aztecs and Mayans, has led to an eclectic style that is both soulful and energetic, charming and spirited, reflecting the rhythms of rural life.
Homes are characterised by open space, natural materials and light, with a link to nature and importance placed on the details: patterns and handwoven textiles and ceramics, and the combination of bright, almost wild colours — design styles that are all currently having a moment.
If you’re feeling like your home could use a little Latin charm, you can start with changing up the palette. That doesn’t have to mean a full-scale fiesta on the walls. Consider an earthy tone like brick or terracotta, such as Benjamin Moore’s Mexicana or Colourtrend’s Brickstock that will serve as a backdrop for a more Mexican-inspired room. The more courageous could opt for a Mexican-inspired wallpaper from Hovia — there’s even a Frida Kahlo tribute among them.
Mexican design is often associated with colourful kitsch (cue Day of the Dead skulls and flowers) but there’s a lot more subtlety to it. Black pottery from Oaxaca, for example, or the ‘upclassing’ of the Acapulco chair, a colourful plastic garden chair that has become an emblem of Mexico’s mid-century aesthetic, that has undergone a Scandi makeover with versions in wood and rattan. There’s plenty of colourful kitsch on the market if that’s your bag (TK Maxx, Penneys, Sklum) and lots of homewares that give a more gentle nod to the style, too (Woo Design, Oliver Bonas, The Wilds, Folkster).
A quick way to get the Latin look is through textiles. Mexico is known for its beautiful handweaving industry, from Oaxacan rugs with their Zapotec symbols to the more playful animal motifs found on Otomi patterns that have filtered into soft furnishings like rugs, throws, accent pillows and wall hangings. A colourful-patterned cushion or indigenous-inspired print is a great way to set an accent without overwhelming a room. The country is also famous for its patterned tiles that will instantly add life to a space. Opt for a Spanish colonial style with Talavera tiles, or mix it up with mismatched encaustic tiles against a solid colour.
The kitsch tropicalia of cacti and palm tree motifs have their place but why not incorporate the real thing instead. Succulents and cacti thrive in the arid landscapes and Mexican homes are naturally full of them. Pop them in terracotta or colourful pots and dot them around your home for an easy, low maintenance and chic Mexican accent.
There’s an endearing authenticity that comes with the Mexican interior style; one that is far from shy but equally humble that makes for an interesting and sunny space in which to live.