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From Mayan to Modern: Guatemalan Bathroom and Interior Design

Hello everyone! It’s Nicole here writing from a rather grey and grizzly Guatemala. The country’s going through their rainy season now meaning that every day at 3pm, I think I’ve been transported back to the UK! The trade-off though? A luscious green landscape with fruits and flowers blooming everywhere. I can handle a bit of rain for that; I am Scottish after all!

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I’ve spent the majority of this month living on Lake Atitlan; a stunning volcanic lake that I struggled to pull myself away from. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this country and I’m excited to see what else it has to offer. Whilst I’ve been here, I’ve picked up on a lot of fun design elements and today I’m going to show you a sneak peek into Guatemalan interior design.

But, before we get into things, a history lesson!

The Importance of Bathrooms in Guatemala’s History

Tikal Pyramids

One of the most interesting things about visiting Guatemala is exploring its ancient Mayan history! Much like neighbouring Belize, Mexico and Honduras, Guatemala has its fair share of Mayan ruin sites. Tikal is the most important and impressive of all them though, and is considered to be one of the best archaeological sites in the whole of Central America!

The ancient Mayans have a unique and intriguing history which spanned 2,000 years. They invented a vast number of things independently - one of which being a water plumbing system!

It’s believed that in as early as 750 AD, many of the Mayan ruin sites had their own water plumbing system. Meaning that in the 1st century, toilets with running water were being used by the Mayan people!

This day and age we might not consider their plumbing systems particularly sophisticated, but all those years ago it would have been an extremely impressive feat.

What Things are Like Nowadays

These days, Guatemala’s bathrooms aren’t too different from our own. However, like every other country I’ve been to, there are a lot of design elements that their culture has had a lot of influence on.

Here are some observations that I’ve made this month.

Colour Everywhere!

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If there’s one thing that seems to remain constant through Latin America, it’s their love of colour. Not satisfied with beige or magnolia, you’ll find uplifting colours like pink, peach and aquamarines. Showers here seem to be covered in gorgeous, colourful ornate tiles - not too dissimilar to the ones that I’ve spotted in Cuba and Mexico. The same goes for wall décor - the more colour, the better!

Plants + Greenery

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It’s difficult to come to Guatemala and not notice to the various species of plants on show. Around Lake Atitlan, I was in awe of the different colour of flowers; deep purples, crimson oranges and bright pinks!

People really take advantage of this in their home décor choices. One trend that I noticed in various restaurants that I visited was to hanging flower plants. We mostly stick to keeping flowers in a vase or pot but, for something a bit different, why not try hanging them from the ceiling?

This would create an unusual and eye-catching effect in your bathroom while keeping it smelling fresh and fragrant, too.

Natural Materials

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Flowers aren’t the only bit of nature you’ll see around a Guatemalan house! A lot of their home design incorporates nature and it’s not unusual to see products made from all natural materials.

Whether it’s something extravagant like an all-wood table or something simple like the mirror frame made from twigs that’s pictured above, there’s something calming about bringing a touch of nature into your home.

Plus, if you’re feeling handy, it’s easy to create your own natural bathroom accessories on a budget.

Traditional Weavings

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One of the most challenging things about being in Guatemala has been trying to hold myself back from buying all the gorgeous handwoven products that are for sale. In little villages, you can see the women making these products completely from scratch - an intricate and time-consuming process but one that has been passed down for generations.

It’s obvious that the people take great pride in their weavings, and with good reason, too- they are gorgeous! I haven’t visited a single place that hasn’t had some kind of woven accessory- be it cushion covers, wall hangings or even place-mats!

The easiest way to incorporate this into your bathroom would be to get a traditional woven rug or bath mat. They come in all different colours and patterns and regardless of your tastes, you’ll definitely find one that suits you.

Outhouses

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While most bigger homes in Guatemala have their own indoor toilets, this isn’t exactly the norm. A lot of smaller houses, known locally as “casitas”, have an outhouse instead: something that can require a bit of getting used to in the middle of the night! I’ve seen all types of outhouse bathrooms - ours was in a proper bricks and mortar building but others are in a cute little shed like the one photographed above. My favourite ones are in traditional circular huts, though.

Should I Flush it or Chuck it?

To flush or to chuck? The great traveller conundrum! The pipes used in Guatemalan toilets aren’t big enough for toilet roll to pass through so, it needs to go in the bin! Having spent 3 years living in South Korea, this isn’t an issue for me! Asian living has given me the sheer strength to deal with any toilet that’s thrown at me - squatter, no door, you name it!

Guatemala is a fascinating country with amazing, kind people and a rich culture. If you’re considering visiting somewhere a bit different, it’s got a lot to offer tourists and well worth a visit! However, until then, why not consider taking their lead and borrowing some of their design trends? They’ll definitely give you a touch of difference in the “banos” department!

Which design feature is your favourite? Leave a comment and let us know!

Writer - Nicole Arnott - Wee Gypsy Girl

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