WorldStudio International

 

For several years, this private home near Parque Santana served as a small B&B and residence for the owner/manager. The owner - a very talented woman with a flair for achieving great style on few pesos - acquired the home in the early 2000s, and had deliberately chosen (for both aesthetic and economic reasons) to leave much of the rustic quality of the home's finishes and surfaces intact. The result was charming: a romantic hacienda oasis in the middle of town.

The program for the new owners, however, was to eliminate the B&B, and instead create a fully functioning, updated and stylish private residence. This meant two primary and significant changes: convert a large bedroom into an ample kitchen for entertaining (the former owner was admittedly not a cook and had used a small ante-room as her kitchen); and to dramatically enlarge the bathroom in the Master Suite.

In fact, when the new owners acquired the home, the Master Bathroom had been a small side room accessed by a short and narrow doorway off the Master Bedroom. The new owners' challenge to the designers was to increase the size of the bathroom while not robbing space from the generous bedroom. It was a bold challenge, since the only space near the existing bath was outdoors: an area occupied by an ancient well, pumps for the water system, a water heater, a giant tower that had originally served as the water holding tank for the house - and a dramatic and healthy Royal Palm. The challenge was clear: expand the space just off the bedroom for the new Master Bathroom while leaving the water tower - and Nature - intact.

The designers also took upon themselves some other challenges that became apparent during the design phase. A tiny detached casita toward the rear of the property had been reprogrammed for use as a music studio and overflow bedroom. But the room was very dark and claustrophobic ­ not conducive to the owners' creative urges. In addition, while the crumbling stucco of the entire lateral facade had its romantic appeal, it was highly vulnerable to water damage and therefore posed a threat to the structural integrity of the house.


 

The creative solution proposed by the designers tackled each of the problems and resulted in a unified whole.

  • In the conversion of the central bedroom into the kitchen, two individual doors were removed and the opening enlarged. New iron and screen doors frame a dramatic view of the garden. At the same time, the narrow sidewalk was converted into a generous curved terrace allowing for seating and dining al fresco just outside the new kitchen.
  • The plan for the new Master Bathroom creatively zig-zagged around the Royal Palm, which solution coincidentally provided a romantic vista of the garden and pool from the Master Bedroom. Further, the old water tower was completely salvaged and converted into a dramatic shower. Frosted and clear glass panels provide light while maintaining privacy.
  • The casita square footage was significantly enlarged by removing the rear wall and installing floor-to-ceiling iron and glass windows and doors. This solution also provided light and exposed a previously unappreciated view of the rear garden.
  • A new stucco guardapolvo (wainscoting) was installed along the entire length of the house, thereby aesthetically unifying the home into one visual statement while also preventing further water damage close to the ground.

 


Before
Right: A small ante-room was used as the kitchen by the previous owner.
Left: The large central bedroom was converted into the new kitchen.
Below left: Two wooden doors between the old bedroom and the garden were removed and recycled elsewhere in the house; the openings were joined and expanded.

 

 

After
Right: The new kitchen is bright, spacious and open, with a dramatic view of the garden. A terrace extension provides more space for entertaining and al fresco dining. The center island maximizes work space while providing seating for light meals or during parties.

Before
Left: Two doors provided passage from the original bedroom to a narrow walkway and seating area outside.

After
Bottom: The new opening with folding iron-and-screen doors is a dramatic statement while enhancing the indoor/outdoor lifestyle of the tropics.


Before
Top left: An old water tank and an impressive Royal Palm seemed like obstacles in fashioning the new bathroom.
Left: The casita was detached from the rest of the house.

After
Top: A zig-zag floor plan allowed the clients to keep the palm while providing vistas of the garden from indoors.
Below: The water tank found new life as a shower in the bathroom, and the casita now blends with the main house.

Before
Above: The original Master Bedroom was charming but rather dark. Just to the left of the bed is visible the tiny arched doorway leading to the compact bathroom. Many visitors had to stoop in order to pass through the door.

After
Above: The entire rear wall was opened to create a combined window to the garden and door to the new expanded bathroom. The painted wainscoting height was lowered to create the illusion of taller ceilings.

Lower left: The new iron and glass windows zig-zag around the Royal Palm outside, then cut back to create a small alcove for the toilet. The plan also allowed for a dramatic view from the bedroom all the way through to the tiled wall at the rear of the bathroom.


Before
Left: The outdoor area just outside the original bedroom was annexed for the new Master Bathroom. The ancient well - originally shared with the next door neighbor - can be seen at left.
After
Above: Iron and glass doors between the new Master Bathroom and the Master Bedroom provide light and a feeling of openness. Frosted glass on lower panels offer privacy. All walls, the sinks and storage units were fabricated of cream-colored polished cement. The stamped slate finish of the cement floor adds texture, while a pasta tile "rug" gives a decorative touch

Before
Above: The ancient water storage tower posed a significant challenge to the design plan. Just behind the tower can be seen another challenge: the old shared well.

After
Above: The water tower was converted into a dramatic shower - a creative solution that both avoided demolition of a historic part of Mérida's past and referred to the structure's original function.

Below left: Both the water tower and the old well were conserved. At the rear is visible the sunken tub and backsplash with its playful Talavera tile pattern. A skylight above and frosted windows at left admit ample light.


Before
Below: The ancient well with its pitched roofline was shared by two neighbors.

After
Left: The well was conserved as a focal point of the bathroom. With a hidden electric pump, it also still distributes water to the garden and pool.

Bottom: The rusticity of the old walls was preserved to coordinate with the
aesthetic of the rest of the house, and to be a counterpoint to the crisp modern finishes of the new bathroom. A handmade Maya ladder of sustainable tropical hardwood and sisal rope is used as a towel bar next to the sunken tub.


Before
Left: The detached casita was dark and claustrophobic. Center left: Skylights and a small window admitted minimal light, and the rear wall ignored the lovely garden just outside.

After
Below and Lower left: A simple extension of iron, glass and screen added an impressive 35 square feet to the room while relieving the claustrophobic feeling with a view toward the rear garden.

 
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