What’s most people’s first impression of Mexico? Ask around, and I bet you’ll hear mention of its many colors in the first sentence. The combination of such an impressive array of Mexican colors truly is a sight to behold.
And we’re not talking just nature, though there’s plenty to marvel at there, as well. Amid the lush greens of the forests, the warm tans of its arid lands, and the wildly bright floral colors just begging to be noticed, humans contribute with their own additions, from azul rey (that deep, saturated blue) to rosa mexicana (a bright, cheery pink with just a touch more red than “bubble gum pink”).
As someone who cares deeply about the beauty of one’s physical surroundings, I was immediately enchanted by Mexico’s colorful landscape. Coming from the United States, the “wildest” house color I’d seen was dark gray-blue. Entering Mexico for the first time, I felt like Dorothy stepping out of her dreary black-and-white house and into the dazzling world of Oz (without the munchkins or witches).
It was love at first sight.
If you’re as enchanted with the rainbow of Mexican colors as I am, you may be looking for ways to incorporate them into your own abode, whether here or abroad. Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered! Here are my top tips for bringing Mexican colors into your home.
- Paint some walls! Really. Don’t be scared! Painting one’s interiors (or exteriors) is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make a major statement and quite literally fill your world with the colors you love. Heck, do a mural! The sky truly is the limit.
Granted, you may want to ask your landlord about this first, who will probably just say, “Do whatever you want but paint it white again before you leave.” And as one commenter on my last decor article pointed out, you’re very likely not getting your deposit back anyway (this, unfortunately, is true).
Don’t like what you painted? No problem. You can always paint again, which is one of the things I love most about doing it. We don’t always nail it the first time, and that’s okay — it’s an easy fix. I myself have a wall in my house that’s currently on its fourth color, and I’m already imagining the fifth. Sometimes it just takes getting the color up and seeing it, which to me, is always time well spent.
- Paint some furniture! If you’re a novice painter, perhaps focus on furniture that was relatively cheap to get, like the simple pine shelves and tables that you can get at small carpentry shops.
If you’re (understandably) shy about changing the colors of the walls in your home, a simple chair or TV stand can easily be transformed. To do this, you’ve got two choices: you can either stain the wood using tinta (stain, of which a variety of colors can be found at certain Comex and PolyForm stores) and then cover it with a clear barniz (varnish), or you can simply paint it with whatever you have on hand. Pretty much any kind of paint can be mixed with plaster of Paris to create that famous “chalk paint,” and you can put some clear varnish over that too if you really want to protect it.
- Bring the outside in (or at least in front of your windows). Remember those colorful flowers I mentioned? Go to your local vivero (plant nursery) to find some native plants for your space to add touches of my personal favorite color, green, all around. Plenty of plants sprout some gorgeous blooms as well, so talk to the people there to figure out which ones would be best suited to your space.
Another great option? Bouquets of flowers. They tend to be quite a bit cheaper here than in the U.S., so it’s a luxury that most people can afford. I love going to the market, especially right before some kind of convivio (get-together) in my house for a bright and colorful arrangement (or arrangements!) to make my home look especially welcoming.
- Go shopping! As you know, there are beautiful handicrafts to be found all over Mexico, from ceramics to textiles to the perfect little calaverita for your nightstand. So support your local economy and see what people in your community are making and selling … chances are you’ll find something (or a few somethings) to bring the rainbow of colors outside in.
- Remember, el diablo is in the details. Not a “maximalist” like me? That’s okay — most people aren’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add some striking color to your space. Whether it’s the perfect throw pillow placed just so in an otherwise minimalist apartment or a surprising shock of color behind the books of your bookshelf, there are so many ways to incorporate Mexican colors in a way that respects your personal style.
Down here, whimsy’s the name of the game. Whether you’re going all out or placing the perfect pillow cushion just so in a minimally decorated apartment, you’re bound to find the ideal balance between your personal style and the magical colors of, as far as I’m concerned, the most beautiful country in the world.
Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, sarahedevries.substack.com.