Border Bargains

Turn your house into a hacienda with Talavera tile and terra-cotta pots, hand-blown glassware and hand-carved furniture: a guide to thirty shops just across the Rio Grande where the quality is high and the prices aren't.

A THREE-FOOT-LONG WICKER LOCUST WAS MY FIRST HOME-FURNISHINGS purchase from a Mexican border town. I treasured my bug for ten years, despite a chronic beetle infestation that left small pyramids of fine dust on the floor beneath him, and loved the hint of tropical mystery he brought to my boringly provincial bedroom. Since then, I’ve hauled other decorative stuff back from the border: colorful Talavera pottery, thick hand-blown glasses, terra-cotta dancing dogs, woven wool rugs. This affordable craftsmanship dissolves my Sheetrock walls and gleaming appliances, casting a fantasy of thick adobe, warm breezes, and tequila nights.

I’m not alone in my desire to transform my home into a hacienda. Recently, several friends embarked on building and remodeling projects, spending every available weekend dashing to Nuevo Laredo for one more carved-wood column, yet another giant pot for their patio, an additional box of marble tiles. My husband and I went along on one

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