As lifestyles have become more casual, decorators everywhere have gravitated toward the relaxed looks from Mexican and Southwestern decor styles. In the process, decorators have discovered that although these styles may be relaxed, they are far from being dull and boring. In fact, with careful attention, a living room done in Mexican style literally can become a work of art.
Mexican decorating style, as well as Southwestern versions, centers on earth tones, bright colors and hand crafted accessories. The style has emerged from the combination of indigenous Native American and Spanish cultures, with a result that is soulful and sophisticated. Both Mexican and Southwestern styles employ wood furniture with lots of decorative carvings. Textiles made of wool – such as Navajo wool rugs and Southwestern rugs – are woven by hand into motifs that represent nature. In both cultures light fixtures are made from ornamented tin and wrought iron.
However, there are significant differences between Mexican and Southwestern decorating styles. The Southwestern style tends more toward a calming range of earth tones (no commercialized pink and turquoise, please!), while the Mexican style bursts with the passion of its vivid culture. Both have their places and their fans, especially now that so many people from Mexico and Latin America have immigrated to other countries.
To design a living room in the vigorous Mexican style, start with the floors. Tile, stone or wood are all traditional floor coverings in this decor, which then uses vibrant area rugs to soften and define the spaces. Consider some of the rug styles mentioned previously, or look for coverings in the main colors of Mexican decor, such as red rugs, yellow rugs, orange rugs or blue rugs. These will serve to tie together the colors in other furnishings.
After the floors are set, focus on designing the walls. Mexican walls usually are made of plaster, with lots of texture to them. Using some of the colors from the Mexican palette, give the walls a washed or muted look to make them seem as if the sun has naturally faded them. Stenciled geometric designs work well as wall borders for added interest. Decorate the walls with Mexican artwork or framed desert or ocean photographs (remember, Mexico extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico!). Don’t clutter the walls with too many decorations, though. A relaxed, open feeling is the goal here.
For furniture, select pieces that appear rough-hewn, but have a sturdy, durable quality to them. Use woven textiles or leather to cover the furniture’s built-in cushions, and then add plenty of patterned pillows in bright colors and earth tones.
The earthy environment you’re seeking will be aided by installing plenty of plants in terra cotta pots. Wooden candlesticks on tables will cover some of the handcrafted appeal, along with woven baskets to hold magazines and other items. Wrought iron also is important to Mexican style, and can be added in the form of wall sconces, table bases or chandeliers. Since water is to important in the desert, a small stone water fountain, even in a tabletop model, can provide another authentic touch.
Using these guidelines you can turn a boring living room into a work of Mexican art!