Gecko artwork quite the conversation piece
ILOVE to travel and have always derived much pleasure and inspiration from the many forms of decoration that emerge from different cultures.
The fundamental building materials, the choice of colours, the style of furnishings and the use of textiles, patterns and motifs all blend together to create a scenario that defines a people and their history.
I recently visited a health spa in Mexico that fulfilled my craving for hiking and relaxing. The surrounding countryside was an enchanting combination of lush, unspoiled meadows and mountains, acres of landscaped gardens and an organic farm. Rancho La Puerto promotes a simple, healthy lifestyle complete with a world class cooking school that teaches how to cook with locally grown produce.
The guest houses, or casitas, vibrate with Mexican colours and designs. These special elements are brightly portrayed in the living room shown here. To beat the heat, ceilings are high, often slanted into cathedral ceilings with fat wood beams contrasting the white plaster walls. Furniture has a handmade patina, and swings from very plain, utilitarian benches and tables to intricately carved and painted chair backs and headboards. The exterior wood doors are heavy and decorated with carved panels and wrought iron and glass inserts.
Mexico is well-known for its beautiful terra cotta tiles. Plain or painted, glazed or unglazed, they are used as floor tiles and bathroom and kitchen accents on counters and walls. Glazed floor tiles are cool underfoot, durable and easy to clean, making an authentic choice for this living room.
Lighting can define and punctuate any style. No Mexican home would be complete without traditional wrought iron lamps, chandeliers, candeleros, and decorative accessories. They are a strong element that is often locally made and has been a component of their interior and exterior design styles throughout history.
Here are some tips if you are decorating in this hot-climate style. Look for rugs, upholstery and fabrics in rust red, yellow ocher, marine blue and lime green. Hand-woven rugs in bold stripes, and accent pillows soften the room. Check the Internet for authentic Mexican motifs. There is a large quantity of clip art designs and patterns that you can copy and reproduce. Incorporate these into a quilt, or table and bed linen as well as painted accents on a dresser or chair back. Interior walls are also brought to life with folk art either hung or painted onto walls. Happy children’s faces, big birds, fish and animals stand alone or are woven into wall hangings, or shown as trim around doors and win- dows.
Memories of geckos and lizards darting about in the Mexican desert inspired me to have some fun fixing up a tiny powder room for a family with lots of children. I drew a large picture of a gecko and divided it up into several stencils to make it easier to transfer the image onto the bathroom floor. If you have a steady hand you could paint the image freehand. It’s quite the conversation piece, and brings home some of the flavour and cheer of this rugged country.
Left: a guest house at Rancho La Puerta vibrates with easygoing, engaging Mexican style. Above: add your own Mexican accents with paint and inspiration from their animal and floral motifs.