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Deb Trombley

The Cheerful Aesthetic Beauty of Color Blocking from Latin America

The Color Blocking Aesthetics of Mexico by photographer Gary Geiger via Paint + PatternSource: Photographer Gary Geiger

Color blocking on clothing goes in and out of fashion, but color blocking on buildings seems to always be in style in Latin America. Color blocking is when squares or rectangles – “blocks” – of varying solid colors are used next to each other. Throughout Latin America, you will find color blocking on entire buildings, indoors and out. When the colors are complementary and wildly contrasting, the effect is super dramatic.

Consider the effect here on a building in Mexico, where the green plants add even more to the searing contrast of the color rectangles on this building.

I should have warned you. You may want to find some sunglasses while perusing this post. This sunny scene captured in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is a bright primary delight.

Window in San Miguel photographed by Sarah Underhill via Paint + PatternSource: Sarah Underhill Photography on Flickr

On these buildings in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, modest materials are made joyful with color. As the travelers who captured the view here explain, the neighborhood is partly an artist colony and is a popular destination for tourists who like to see its colorful houses. Residents often painted the outside of their homes with paints left over from the shipyard, because that was economical.

La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina via Paint + PatternLeft-to-Right Sources: Stephane Cast on TrekEarth, Monica Lopez on Flickr

After seeing only carefully composed parts of buildings, you may be craving a broader scene of color. So here you go… Check out an entire street of color-blocked buildings in the historic La Candelaria neighborhood of Bogotá, Colombia… Simply by looking at this, you can feel the spirit of neighborly coordination.

A colorful row of buildings in the historic La Candelaria neighborhood of Bogota, Columbia via Paint + PatternSource: Wikipedia

As another example of colorful cooperation down the block, the shades of colors on this building in Brazil’s Santa Catarina Island seem to hold up really well even in the shade.

Colorful Buildings in Brazil photographed by Susie Sun via Paint + PatternSource: Susie Sun on Flickr

You can find blocks of saturated colors in brave combinations indoors as well. Architects Cathi & Steven House used purple and yellow in the dining room and bedroom of a home they built in San Miguel de Allende. They used lime washes with natural minerals.

Colorful interiors of a house in San Miguel de Allende via Paint + Pattern

Colorful interiors of a house in San Miguel de Allende via Paint + PatternSource: Architecture Week

You may actually be able to stay in this home and enjoy its color-washed walls in person. The home is called Casa de las Estrellas and can be rented. The rental site has many more luscious photos of this home.

In another home designed by them, Casa Renacimiento, the color blocking is not only on the walls, but cascades down a waterfall of stairs.

Color Blocking in homes of Latin America via Paint + PatternSource: House+House

I see a minimum of seven painted colors there, but it all flows so well. Their portfolio at House+House is a joy to flip through if you love color. It’s full of photos of unexpected and expert color combinations on buildings.

Perhaps you cannot go all the way to Central and South America to see these colors in person. There is a scene a little closer to those of us in the U.S., at the Fonda San Miguel restaurant in Austin, Texas. The bright but rustic beauty of this makes me want to book a plane ticket next weekend to walk through those doors! Looking at this on a computer screen makes you feel so close, but still so far away.

Fonda San Miguel restaurant in Austin, Texas via Paint + Pattern

Fonda San Miguel restaurant in Austin, Texas via Paint + PatternSource: Fonda San Miguel

For more images on Latin America, visit our Inspired by Latin America Pinterest Board and be sure to bring your sunglasses!


  1. Regina

    Great post – and I especially love the idea of the ‘spirit of neighborly coordination”. It would have to be, right? Color blocking is such an interesting way to pair colors and add so much interest and drama to any surface.

    • Deb

      Yes, you can just imagine the meetings and conversations they had to plan out their house colors! Just looking at the photo, I started imagining that.

  2. Debbie Hayes

    This makes me remember when my Dad painted our home pink. No fear of color! Lovely and invigorating post Deb.

    • Deb

      Thank you Debbie! I’d love some brave colors on our house but it wouldn’t fit our architecture or neighborhood. I think we need to move! 🙂 Instead I’m putting super bright reds, orange, blue and acid yellow in our sunroom because when you’re in the yard at night, you can see the color in there through the windows.

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