Historical Look At Mexican Style Furniture

by THAT Painter Lady

To understand the true nature of Mexican Style Furniture… one should know a bit about the history of their traditions and where the style derives from. This is a historical look at the Mexican style from the 1920's.

Mexican Furniture varies with the social or race class of the owner, the Indians in their palm huts being contented with mats for beds, a rough brazier made out of an old square five-gallon oil tin, another of these universal vessels for the day's supply of water (for all purposes), a few pottery bowls, a grinding stone for tortilla meal, sometimes a table and chair (but as often not), and always a shrine before which burns a tiny candle.

Light, when used, is by tallow or paraffuie dips. There is literally nothing else in the one-room hut of adobe or bamboo, and apparently no need for anything.

The workingmen of the cities show their advanced state only in the possession of a rough bed of flexible sticks or leather thongs and a table and chairs of rough hewn white pine.

The Mexican house of higher standard is furnished well or ill, as the taste may be, but in the vast majority chairs and a sofa of Austrian bentwood, cane-seated and draped in the back with a bit of coarse embroidery, are the basis of the furnishing of the sala, or drawing-room.

A round table, sometimes books, and often, too, artificial flowers under glass, help to fill the dreary space of the immense rooms. The floors are of tile, with a few rugs, or sometimes only strips of matting.

In the upper classes the furnishings are often elegant, always expensive, and usually dominated in taste by the style most favored in the Paris department store from which they came.

mexican style furniture
photo credit: bradleyolin

As a rule, Mexican rooms are either bare and cold or overfurnished, a fault as much as anything of the architecture which has made them long and narrow or else square in such exact proportion to their great height that they give one the sense of being inside a perfectly proportioned hat box probably the two most difficult shapes of room to furnish pleasingly.

The dining rooms are fitted in the taste of the owner, but never with great attention to details, even the linen (where used) being of poor quality, and the silver almost invariably of the German variety, in metal and in style.

The typical Mexican bedroom is usually cold and uninviting, with its tiled floors and tiny rugs, its great wardrobe and the "washstand set" on a bentwood stand in the corner.

The upper classes, of course, use modern beds, usually elaborately fitted.

The middle-class bed is very likely to be a frame of plaited leather thongs, with a thin mattress, but the ownership of a fine brass bed with a lace spread and " snowy" linen is one of the signs of prosperity. When this is possessed, it is placed high in the front room where it can be seen by all passers-by, and in the early evening, when the rest of the house is practically unlighted, this elaborate bedroom will have its lamp burning and its shutters wide open, for all the world to see and admire.

The universal bed of the Indian and peon is the petate, a woven mat of palm fiber, laid upon the floor. There, with his single zerape, or blanket, he lies down to sleep, sometimes with something under his head, but more often with nothing.

Mexican Style Furniture
photo credit: cstrom

In Yucatan and some of the other hot country sections hammocks are used for sleeping. The Yucatan hammock, of finely spun henequen fiber, or of linen or cotton cords in varied colors, is so broad that one could lie full length across it. To sleep in a hammock, one lies at a slight angle, so that the body is not quite horizontal; when the hammock is properly made and swung this makes one perfectly comfortable.

In the hot country, where insects are common, beds and hammocks all have mosquito bars (netting), which, as a rule, have to be extremely finely woven if they keep out all the pests. Indeed, very often the mosquito "bar" is a shroud of thick cheesecloth, or even muslin, which keeps out the air as well as the mosquitoes, although when one has attempted to sleep without this protection one is likely to be willing to forego his air in the future.


Technorati Tags: mexican style furniture, spanish style furniture, spanish furniture history

Max Modern bed December 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Nice history of Mexican furniture, I was surprised to find out a few things. I like the part about hammocks especially. Very informative post, I see that you have done some important research. I think that the Mexican style furniture can be interesting even today, it all depends on your furniture taste.

articles May 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for the information. I m actually an interior designer professionally, so obviously I get attracted to blogs containing such informations regarding interior designs. Thanks once again. very nice blog.

Office Refitting May 12, 2009 at 1:05 am

I just wonder when I see these pictures, If we are speaking about upper classes, does the furniture designs have more influences from western countries? I don’t know if Mexico was a western colony before but if it was, my reasoning would not be so far reaching. Anyway I really like the Mexican designs and their play with warm colors.

modern fabric sofa August 31, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I love Mexican style furniture, the best way to blend it into your house theme is to just go with the flow. Thank you so much for sharing, I love your blog.

modern rugs April 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I have been everywhere furniture shopping and I can’t find anything I like. I lovelovelove anthropologie style furniture but can’t afford it. Does anyone know where I can find furniture similar to it?

home November 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I am
trying to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

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