Mexican culture is bursting with color, from vibrant stucco architecture to colorful cuisine, flamboyant textiles, and vivid folk art. If you're into rooms filled with bold, lively colors, you're going to love a Mexican color scheme.
While cool colors play a significant role as accent colors, warm colors tend to dominate most Mexican inspired color palette.
Red is one of the most common colors seen in Mexican art and culture. One third of the Mexican flag is red, symbolizing blood shed by historical heroes. Red chili peppers are a staple used in Mexican food and the Matador in a Mexican bullfight entices the bull with an artfully manipulated red cape.
Colorful Mexican blankets and serapes often feature bold bands of red and brilliant fuchsia stripes. Deep or bright red is popular on walls inside and outside the home and various shades of red can also be found on the fiery blooms of courtyard bromeliads, flowering cacti and the unmistakable reddish purple or fuchsia blooms of bougainvillea vines.
Yellow is used heavily in Mexican design as well, in shades ranging from bright lemon yellow to deep earthy golds. Stately haciendas with sunny yellow stucco walls and muddy orange tinted terra cotta floors can't help but look warm and inviting amid the lush greenery of the tropical climate. Almost any shade of yellow can be found on stucco walls, both inside and outside the home. Bright yellow is infused in vividly patterned textiles such as pillows and rugs as well as hand painted ceramic art.
Almost as common as yellow, orange frequently warms the walls both inside and outside the home in Mexico. Muted shades of orange are seen everywhere from terra-cotta tiles on floors to planters, fountains and clay wall art. Bright orange appears in fabric patterns, painted ceramics and furniture. Deep shades of orange are common on pillows and rugs.
Mostly used in brilliant, jewel-toned shades, cool colors stand out in stark contrast to their warm counterparts.
Interior courtyards filled with the greenery of climbing vines, palms and flowering plants are a common design characteristic of hacienda style homes. Bright green is a favorite color for trim on cabinets, around doors and windows, on painted furniture, patterned textiles and hand painted ceramic tiles. One third of the Mexican flag is dark green, symbolizing hope.
Reminiscent of sea and sky along Mexico's gorgeous coastline, shades of blue range from deep navy and indigo to brilliant electric blue to blue-green hues of turquoise or teal. Blue is a popular color for accent walls, furniture, doors and decorative trim. Colorful bands of blue are commonly found in striped rugs and blankets and artful patterns painted on Talavera tiles.
Vibrant shades of purple from red violet to blue violet can be seen on stucco walls, painted furniture and in colorful bands on blankets and serapes. Deep purple is used to highlight architectural features and is often paired with yellow or orange.
Combining Mexican Colors Into Palettes
Working with different colors can be challenging but one solution is to incorporate neutral colors as well. Light shades of beige and cream bring to mind the look of aged stone or stucco walls. Earthy tones of brown incite the feel of old wooden floors and ceiling beams. Bright white and black work well with bright and bold colors.
Contemporary Art Inspired Palette
If you're into more complex colors, you can find them in Mexican arts and crafts. For example, this contemporary Mexican themed bedroom has a lively color palette inspired by sugar skull artwork hung over the bed:
The neutral walls and bedspread give the eyes a place to rest when taking in all the bright colors of the room's accessories, while also shifting the focus to them. Subtle shading differences in the brighter colors adds depth and interest to the room.
If you like the look of strong contrasting colors, pair complementary opposites together like blue and orange or red and green. Since red and green are so strongly associated with Christmas in American culture, vary the shade a bit or use tertiary colors like the blue-green teal and red-violet fuchsia accents in the bedroom example.
Cultural Color Palette
This colorful dining room was inspired by the home of Mexican icon, Frida Kahlo, a famous 20th century painter known for using bold, vivid colors in her artwork. Her striking, cobalt blue house in Mexico City is now a museum. This complex palette contains a split complementary color scheme of dark yellow, blue-violet and red-violet.
- Periwinkle (blue-violet hue)
- Sunflower yellow
- Lime green
- Navy blue
People often disagree when describing a hue like periwinkle. Some will say it is blue while others see it as purple. It is actually both, being blue-violet. A color wheel aids in exploring complex colors and puts color schemes into perspective. Find color wheels in arts and crafts stores, interactive versions online and on Amazon.
In this dining room, a slightly muted shade of periwinkle contrasts nicely with the dark yellow wall and vase color. Monogamous shades of red-violet orchid on the table and seat cushions coordinates well with the periwinkle trim while looking vibrant against the yellow hues in the background. The lime green chairs, which are actually yellow-green, also enhance the vibrancy of the table, as yellow-green and red-violet are complementary opposites on the color wheel.
Fiery Baja Sunset Color Palette
One of the best things about design rules is: they can be broken, especially in a personal space like the bedroom. Perhaps a fiery ocean sunset experienced in Cabo San Lucas made a lasting impression on your mind or this color palette was used in the rustic Mexican bed-and-breakfast you honeymooned in:
- Tangerine orange
- Lemon yellow
- Chocolate brown
Lighting will play a significant role in this color scheme, both natural light coming through the window and artificial light at night. If you live in a warm or hot climate, a room with southern or western exposure may feel too hot or bright in the afternoon. If you live in a cold climate with a northern exposed room, this wall color can make the room feel warmer. A room with eastern exposure will be bright and cheerful every morning. Use soft white light bulbs in lamps with shades that focus light downward at night, allowing the orange hue on the walls to deepen into a more sultry, burnt orange hue.
Embracing Cultural Color
If you have a tendency to play it safe with mostly neutral colors in your home, a Mexican inspired color palette can help you take a playful plunge into the world of color. Create a palette of your own or find inspiration from those featured.