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Mexican Colors

Mexican Color

Color can directly affect mood. Dentists' offices and hospital rooms may be painted light green to sooth tense, worried patients. Birthday cards are printed in bright, bold, happy colors while sympathy cards are often gold, silver, or muted tones. Power-wielding female execs may dress in jewel-tone business suits to reinforce their assertiveness; presidential candidates favor bright blue neckties signifying optimism and self-confidence.

Houses in Mexico may be more brightly painted than those in other countries, but the color palate depends on historical context and geographic location as well as the mood an owner wants to express. In colonial cities it is wise---and sometimes required by law---to choose a traditional color. In the Yucatan peninsula, beautiful buildings in the heart of colonial Campeche are painted in colorful but dignified hues: butter yellow, dill green, peach, rust, and dove gray. Because it is an UNESCO World Heritage city, business- and home-owners must follow the prescribed palate, choosing from a list of approved colors.

The same is true in San Miguel de Allende, where the facades of centuries-old downtown buildings meander from Venetian or rust red to yellow ochre, earth brown or blue-gray. Other colonial towns have a different color scheme. In downtown Pátzcuaro, all of the houses are painted white with maroon trim at the base and around doors and windows.

Outside historic districts, any color is permitted, but it is preferable to coordinate with those used by others in the neighborhood. Choose a shade that suits your style and also is practical. Darker colors tend to hide dirt; white and light colors reflect light and are therefore the hue of choice for hot, tropical climates. The latter do, however, require repainting more frequently.

Many facades in Mexico are painted in more than one color. Choose coordinating colors; at the very least, stick to all warm or all cool hues. Whatever color you choose, purchase more than you'll need so you can paint over graffiti.

Interior color schemes are a matter of personal taste, of course. If you don't want to hire an interior decorator, take a trip to the library, buy books on color from a bookstore, or visit website for different ideas. When possible get paint chips or a color book to bring home. Tape chips of the proposed color to the walls to see how they look at different times of day. One very attractive option is to paint the ceiling and most of the walls a neutral color like beige, white, or taupe and choose one or more bright or dark colors for just a few walls in living or dining areas or behind kitchen cabinets.

Whether indoors or out, the colors you choose will set the tone for your residence. Choose something that blends with the environment and makes you feel happy about returning home or curling up with a good book. Please send us your photos and ideas at


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