Mexico is a large and diverse country with many different aesthetics. One common element, however, is that many Mexican pieces feature hand-crafted or artisan details such as engraving, niches, built-in shelves and chunky hardware. You can paint these pieces in many ways, highlighting the traditional Mexican palette or adding creative touches that make the pieces reflect your unique style.
The Mexican palette favors matte or distressed finishes over sleek and glossy ones. Wood pieces look ideal in light to medium stains, although the colonial hacienda look features darker stains. If you want to paint rather than stain your pieces, you can create a rustic Mexican look with indigo, terracotta, deep orange or mustard yellow. You can go more Mexican modern with cobalt and white or vivid yellows and greens.
Use a faux finish technique on Mexican furniture to create more dimension and texture. Create a light verdigris effect on metal fixtures or wood pieces by beginning with a bronze or copper base coat and painting or sponging on layers of Mediterranean green. Try a crackle glaze on top of painted pieces to give furniture a weathered, timeworn look. An antique wash looks best over a darker shade, such as cobalt blue or espresso brown. Once the wash is dry, use fine-grain sandpaper to rub away at the edges and corners of the furniture to allow the underlying colors to show through.
Because much of Mexican furniture is still hand-crafted, it is common to find hand-painted borders, patterns and images on the furniture. You can create this look simply by using stencils with Mexican motifs. Look for abstract scroll designs or images of cacti, chili peppers, snakes or tropical fruits. If you have more advanced painting skills, you can devote a cabinet door or the sides of a shelf to a larger freehand painting in a Mexican-inspired theme. Paint a panel cobalt blue and, after it dries, paint a large white calla lily and green leaves in the center. Decorate a chair back with images inspired by Mexican vinyl table cloths, like bright orange, yellow, purple and red fruits and flowers. Get a crafty look by imitating the southern Mexican "alebrije" artworks which feature intricate borders of dots, spirals, diamonds and other images. You can use toothpicks or the backs of paintbrushes to create smaller dots.
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