a reverie on color in tulum

In Tulum I found myself thinking a lot about color: how we use it in interiors, how it appears in nature, how certain color combinations can signify different moods or cultures. After all Mexico is such a colorful place! Here’s a photo I took on some rocks behind a restaurant we ate in (aside: right after taking the picture I found myself face to face with a rather large iguana, which had me dashing back to my seat in no time : ).

It has been awhile since I’ve been on the Caribbean and I was truly amazed at the turquoise waters and golden beige sand, such a nice counterpoint to the lush green vegetation all around. All this was very different from the blue gray waters and pale white beaches with grey rock we saw in Oregon last summer.

I am definitely a lover of earthy, neutral or muted colors and color palettes. Seeing the bright turquoise sea was a welcome reminder that the brightest of hues exist naturally as well as all the colors we think of as being “earthy.” Turquoise is actually my favorite bright. I feel it is the right pop of color in many contexts. It works well with plum and burgundy-type colors. I love it with olive-y greens and yellow. It is fantastic with grey and livens up greyer and paler shades of blue and green. And of course it looks great with sandy beiges and taupe colors too.

The string of eco resorts we visited down in Tulum also gave me much to consider. Some places combined rustic elements of wood and thatched roof cabanas with bright, vibrant color, creating places that felt casual, festive, and charming. Other places opted for white with natural colors of wood, which created a very clean, upscale feeling. One restaurant we ate in had stone walls and floors with wood trim and the palapa roof. The effect was more old world, rustic elegance. Stone will always give that more “stately” vibe. One of my favorite restaurants had a strict color palette of red and black with the natural materials creating a very moody, asian vibe. The common element in all the places in Tulum was the wood and thatched roof, which carried a natural, rustic feeling through all the places.

You will be able to read more about Tulum and how this unique place is indeed rustic, yet luxurious in its very own way on our online magazine page coming soon. The new edition will be up in April. In the meantime, please enjoy my tips on color below:

Favorite ways to add bright colors to a room: Pillows, flowers, glass pieces/vases, bright book covers, artwork. I like to contain the color in a specific area of a room and have it create a welcome spot of interest.

Combining wood tones: If you want to combine many wood tones together, a white or pale neutral backdrop is your best bet. Otherwise it is easiest to choose your wood tones along the following guidelines: go warm or go grey. If the major wood pieces in your home have red or orange undertones, stick with those warm colors in any other wood finishes you may add. If the woods have more ashen or sallow tones you can go for greyer woods. White finishes and very dark wood tones will usually go with either warm or grey woods.

Color discipline: The best, most soothing interiors come from picking a dominant color for a room and then incorporating a few accent colors. Best results come from picking adjacent accent colors. For example a new vignette in Furbish is predominantly grey and white, and then the accent colors are a pale grey blue, pale olive-y green, and just a few touches of brighter moss green.

Embrace happy accidents: The above rules are guidelines for strategies that definitely work, but I love discovering color schemes when I accidentally see two colors put together in an unexpected way, or see them combined in a piece of artwork. I also love to play a game of taking two colors that seem like they wouldn’t work and then finding the perfect shades of those two colors to make the pairing seem more natural. Have fun with it!