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Hola – it’s modern Mexican

It’s mellow and rustic but with an uptick of optimism.

Since designing the interiors of our houses to look a particular way became a thing, we’ve been fascinated with the look of other cultures, and in particular those that have a relaxed rustic feel – think Tuscany, French Provence, Spain, Morocco, Mexico and Greece.

Modern Mexican dining room

A Modern Mexican moodboard

Modern Mexican moodboard

A Modern Mexican style dining room

Mood board: Background painted in Resene Athena, lower strip in Resene Pioneer Red and vases from top in Resene Scoria, Resene Pioneer Red, Resene Athena and Resene ElementAccessories: Chair and cabinet from Cane Collective, table from Nood, lamp from Sailor and Scout, tree from Bed Bath & Beyond.

There was a surge in the love of these dreamy authentic interiors as we travelled the world and fell in love with different cultures and places.

Free-spirited travellers of the 1960s and 1970s embraced the exotic charms of far-flung places, donning caftans, learning macrame and strewing oversized Turkish cushions about the floor. Ikat prints, low-slung hand-carved day bed, flax mats and earthen pots came together in an eclectic huddle of nostalgia. It’s the retro look in all its hippy glory.

Bringing that style back with us to our homes make us feel as if we’re on permanent holiday. Just break out the tapas and retsina, and transport yourself to less harried times and places. Travel may have become trickier but that doesn’t stop us from bringing the rest of the world to us instead, and drenching our homes with a sense of connection to past exploits that’s hard to resist, evoking a simpler time and an honest unstudied approach.

Modern Mexican is one such style – it’s like wrapping yourself in a warm tortilla. It’s mellow and rustic but with an uptick of optimism, embracing the colours of sunshine, baked earth, fiery sunsets and chilli peppers. It’s the perfect balance of restrained and bold.

A Modern Mexican interior style

A dining room in the Modern Mexican interior design style

Paint colours: Walls: Resene Athena, Floor: Resene Athena, Colour block paint feature: Resene Pioneer Red, Wall shelves: Resene Scoria, Change out props i.e. vases: Resene Tenor and Resene Staccato, Platter for table: Resene Pioneer Red, Other small vases in all of the above.  Accessories: Rug from Bed Bath & Beyond, napkins from Father Rabbit, placemats from AC Home, bag from World.

Warm and fiery colours tend to dominate the classic Mexican palette, from sunshiny yellow, through terracotta and brick red, to kidney bean reddish brown.

On the walls and floor of this open-plan dining and living space, Resene Athena is a rich buttery biscuit beige, the colour of adobe walls and not-quite-ripe corn. If your tastes tended towards something a little stronger, try Resene Canterbury Clay, a muted French beige, Resene Coyote, a desert ochre, or for something slightly sharper with a tinge of green, Resene Fluffy Duck is a new fashion colour from Resene The Range.

The overall look is fairly restrained with just a deep chilli red, Resene Pioneer Red, used on the ceiling beam and trims. Red is a common colour in Mexico: chillis, tomatoes, flowering plants, on blankets and serapes.

Other Mexican-inspired accent colours to consider are oranges, fresh green, blue and purple. Look to Resene Grenadier, Resene Aloe Vera, Resene Key Largo and Resene Blue Diamond. These are all vivid colours to be used in moderation but which will add playfulness and joy to the scheme. Famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was known for using bold colours in her artwork.

These spaces are tactile – you crave to run your hand down the rough plaster walls and across the woven doors of the cabinet, and walk barefoot on the faded rug. It’s not about being perfect: this is a casual, relaxed and friendly space. Buildings are pared back with structural elements on display with ceiling beams, oversized fireplaces, weathered timbers, flagstone floors, stucco and deep-set windows. Furniture is hardworking with simple lines. Rattan pieces add a light, almost tropical feel.

Add to that handcrafted and artisan vases, ornaments, hand-painted ceramic art, unpretentious fabrics, woven baskets and rustic tableware – they’ll be a bit wonky and fairly utilitarian, but who needs fancy when you’re this chilled out? It’s character with a capital C. This room not only looks great but feels inviting and convivial – crying out for gatherings of friends and family to eat off shared plates and tell tall tales well into the night. Then, next morning, grab your bag for the farmers market and start your day.

Resene Athena

Resene Fluffy Duck

Resene Tenor

Resene Staccato

Resene Aloe Vera

Resene Key Largo

Project by Melle Van Sambeek. Photography by Bryce Carleton. May 2022

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