Head South of the Border for Design Delights
Sarah Van Arsdale - When thinking of last-minute summer travel, Mexico may not be the first place that comes to mind. But consider this, Señora: airfares to Mexico are lower in the summer, and it won’t be any hotter there than it is in northern North America. Whether you actually go there yourself or just want to enjoy a desktop trip, we’ve found Hacienda Las Trancas: a place that is so beautifully designed it would be a pleasure to visit any time of the year. Let’s take a look at how the designers put it all together to create a space that’s welcoming, soothing, and exciting all at once.
After all, design this good knows no season. Let’s start our tour at the front of the building, since we know from the wisdom of feng shui that a welcoming entrance to any building or apartment is crucial in that it sets the tone for the entire experience.
Here, we feel completely pulled in and welcomed; it’s easy to imagine arriving after a hot and dusty day in the Mexican countryside, seeing the welcoming lights nestled in the clusters of bougainvillea. Note something here about Mexican design: often, good use is made of the combination of sharp lines and soft ones, as seen in the spiky cacti and soft bougainvillea or other flowers; it’s like combining spicy-hot peppers and sweet chocolate in a molé sauce. In design, this kind of combination suprises the visitor and keeps things interesting.
One important and common feature of Mexican design is the arcade around a central courtyard that provides shelter from the sun and seating for visitors who want to look out onto the central garden. The cooling sight of the garden, combined with the heavy stone of the floor, wall, and ceiling, allows a visitor to cool down after a long day of sightseeing. In the morning, when the mountain air is still cool from the night, there’s always a side of the courtyard in sun.
This arcade provides seating - whether on chairs or in hammock - without being cluttered, which is a great design move as having too much furniture would distract the eye from the beautifully-tiled floor.
Hacienda Las Trancas has the advantage of being in a small village near one of the best-loved destinations in Mexico, especially for seekers of art and design: San Miguel de Allende, which boasts a breath-taking landscape and a town that has grown to accommodate vacationers without spoiling its authenticity.
The common space in the hacienda continues with the traditional Mexican look, with heavy wooden chairs and table. The traditional look is undercut by the use of the Oriental carpet instead of using a woven Mexican rug; this provides a note of interest, by resisting the urge to go with what would be expected.
Everything, in fact, at the hacienda has the feeling of being authentic to the era of the great haciendas of Mexico, which isn’t surprising as it’s been a hacienda since the 1700s. For one thing, the walls are made of meter-thick adobe. There’s even a saddle room where visitors and residents alike can check out the genuine leather saddles.
In this hacienda, the bedrooms are again traditional, welcoming, and beautifully designed. The walls are painted in pale colors, and each bed is covered with a romantic - yet practical - mosquito netting. The tiled floors and heavy wooden chests continue the Mexican look. The lighting in the bedrooms allows the visitor enough light for reading in bed, but the light is subtle and not overpowering.
The bath is a room where one often sees some of the best of Mexican design, in elaborate tile work. Here, we see a hand-painted sink edged with matching tile. Gorgeous!
Finally, when you go back outside, you see the updated Mexican design continue through the grounds, with the tiled double pool, trimmed with a saltillo tile patio. The simple deck chairs are comfortable, and their rose fabric subtly matches the antiqued rose wall. The line of candles provides a bit of lighting without ruining the rustic, romantic mood.
Hacienda Las Trancas has done a fabulous job of maintaining traditional Mexican looks while updating with modern conveniences any traveler would appreciate. And all of it has resulted in terrific design - perfect for any time of the year.
If you're also interested in interior design, I encourage you to explore the Sheffield School, New York, NY. Sheffield began as an Interior Design school in 1985, and then expanded our course offerings to train people in other design-related fields, including Feng Shui, Wedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design. With thousands of active students and more than 50,000 graduates, Sheffield has trained more design professionals than any school in the world.