Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

When I travel—be it across the river or around the world—I tend to return home with a bundle of new ideas to test inside my house. Visiting a city through the lens of design focuses my eye, promising lasting memories long after the suitcases have been stored and the passports put away. Over the years, I’ve learned that inspiration need not result in grand transformations. Small works of art for the living room and the perfume of kitchen spices are enough to remind me of past adventures. 

Last week, after a raucous senior spring break trip to Cancún with my daughter and 70 of her high school classmates, we traveled to Mexico City with friends for a short, three-day visit. The capital is massive, so next time I’ll allott more time. Still, the opportunities to experience art, architecture, and history exist around every street corner. Notwithstanding our short stay, I managed to bring home lots of creative energy. Mexico City is just that kind of place. 

Urban Jungle 

One of the first things I noticed about the city is the lively interplay between natural and urban landscapes. Lush greenery takes on a commanding presence in parks, along sidewalks, and from apartment balconies brimming with plants and flowers. Note to self: Living in the city of St. Louis doesn’t have to rule out the presence of nature in everyday life. 

Lighten Up 

Many of the buildings are designed to capture natural light, whether it be through a courtyard or a skylight. In fact, the decor and furniture seem to work in tandem with the light. Note to self: My house may not feature a courtyard or skylight, but it does has plenty of windows. It’s time to open up the shades and let in the light.

Color Is Everywhere 

The city–and the country as a whole–is known for its embrace of vibrant hues. I noticed both subtle and bold applications of colors throughout the city. At the Museo Ramón López Velarde, I was especially taken with the tincture on old wooden floors. Note to self: Have fun with color. 

Wall Art 

Our our last day in Mexico, we visited the Museo Kaluz, a hidden gem of a museum dedicated to four centuries of Mexican art. I was inspired by the artwork, as well as the site itself—a former monastery built in 1780. Take a look at the wall treatment in this stairwell. I love the texture. Take a closer look at the baseboards—they’re actually painted on. In the museum’s adjoining cafe, I was surprised to discover that the books lining the walls are not books at all. It’s wallpaper. Note to self: Is there someway to employ trompe l’oeil in my own home? 

Frame That View 

When I think about how I frame the art in my house, I have to admit that I tend to play it pretty safe and expected. But I found plenty of examples of art that’s framed in a less conventional ways. Note to self: What if I painted outside the lines?


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