Gecko art­work quite the con­ver­sa­tion piece

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DEB­BIE TRAVIS

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.

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