Mexican style kitchens are characterized by their beautiful use of color and tile. We spoke with interior designers to learn more about key features of these spaces and how to replicate elements of Mexican style kitchens in any home.
Meet the Expert
While all-white kitchens have become popular in the United States in recent decades, Mexican style kitchens are characterized by their use of bright colors. What hues make an appearance in particular? Talavera tiles, blues, greens, and yellows, explains designer Carolina Gentry of Pulp Design Studios, whose mother grew up in Mexico. While one may associate an abundance of color with a bold, vibrant design style, note that Mexican style kitchens definitely do not have to be maximalist in appearance. "A Mexican style kitchen can vary with a maximalist approach by mixing pattern on top of pattern and use of bold colors," Gentry says. "Or, they can have accents of pattern in accessories and strategic color placement to show off a sophisticated Mexican modern vibe with texture and rich materials."
Mexican-American designer Christy Ramón agrees. "I’d say that Mexican kitchens run the gamut: most are very, very tidy though. I can’t say I’ve seen a ton of open shelving, mostly because I feel it’s caught on only in the last decade or so, and also because most of the Mexican kitchens I’ve seen are more focused on pure functionality than openness."
Tile, though, is extremely apparent. "In Mexico, it’s all about Saltillo tile [a durable clay tile] and Cantera [natural stone] used outside the home and for flooring," Ramón explains. "Mexican artisans make this terrific handmade tile with blue, white, yellow, and terracotta colors that are pretty ubiquitous in Mexico and in Texas." Tiled countertops are particularly common in traditional Mexican kitchens, she adds.
The kitchen—in Mexican households and beyond—is often referred to as the heart of the home. "The kitchen is the a very important gathering place in every home, no matter where you are," Gentry shares. "It’s a place where family gathers for special occasions or just the everyday catching up in the morning before the day begins and at the end of the day when the day is wrapping up."
Storage and Display Solutions
Why not combine the practical with the aesthetically pleasing? When designing a Mexican style kitchen, Gentry advises "making the most of storage by using interesting cutting boards on a large wall instead of your standard artwork," as she has done in her own cooking space, pictured below. But that's not all—there are many other ways to adapt Mexican style elements to your space using items that you most likely have on hand already. As Gentry explains, "Adding colorful mixing bowls, dutch ovens and textiles are a simple way to add a Mexican look."
When it comes to the kitchen table, color makes yet another appearance in the form of practical pieces like bowls, plates, silverware, napkins, and other day to day essentials. "The kitchen table is a great way to layer different colors, patterns, and textures with textiles and serving ware," Gentry says. "One of my favorite Mexican tabletop serving ware pieces is a pewter baroque tortilla server that my mother gave me." Tortilla serves are often ceramic and feature beautiful bold, colorful designs, making them both extremely functional and also artful at the same time!