Home Tour: A Colourful Mexican House Pays Tribute To Frida Kahlo And Latin American Culture
Even after working on several homes in Mexico, celebrated interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard considers his latest project, Casa El Faro, to be the most inspiring thus far. With a vision to create not just a beach house but a soulful homage to Latin American culture, Bullard worked with architect Juan Zapata to shape an abode inspired by the local landscape and cultural heritage
Dubbed Casa El Faro—“el faro” means “the lighthouse” in Spanish—the 12,701sqft building is dramatically perched on a rocky cliff within the private community of Maravilla, overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Evoking the iconic Acapulco villas of the mid-20th century, Bullard and Zapata wanted to strike the right balance between the interiors and the architecture to capitalise on the breathtaking setting.
“I worked with Zapata to warm up the architectural finishes and add more of a Mexican palette and flavour to the modern structure,” says Bullard of the holistic process. The design approach considered all elements in their totality: low roofs planted with cactus gardens, floors covered in marble mosaics, walls formed with carved plaster and terraces incorporating natural elements. The outdoor views were as important as the interiors, with tall, pivoting glass doors and full-height windows creating expansive vistas.
Inside the villa, the entry hall sets a distinct mood. The patterned green, grey, white and cream marble floor tiles introduce the palette that recurs throughout the other spaces, with playful cactus reliefs acknowledging the indigenous vegetation. With the addition of woven jute-rope globe lights made in a nearby village, Bullard determinedly lays on a rustic appeal to “soften the grandeur of the space and bring it back to a beach house vibe”.
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The main floor of Casa El Faro is every home entertainer’s dream. The expansive space is an indoor-outdoor entertainment heaven that comprises an open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas, circular tequila bar, lounge area with firepit and a multitude of other recreational nooks.
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Despite the abundance of entertainment spaces, Bullard cites some of the more private rooms in the home as the highlights of this project. The master suite, with its own spa and massage room, is a sight to behold with its unspoilt views of the ocean. The bedroom expands out onto the terraces—one dedicated to yoga and meditation, and another featuring a champagne and oyster bar with a hot tub and firepit. “For good measure, we also added a cactus garden and a rooftop putting green for the client, an avid golfer,” adds Bullard.
Some of Bullard’s other favourite rooms distinctly project strong Latin American influences that the designer weaved together in a tribute to local culture and art. In the screening room, he covered the walls in Mexican blanket-inspired fabrics and vintage movie posters that added a sense of place to the space.
In the kids’ room, Bullard played with colours and patterns, adding a fun collection of Mexican folk toys and children’s books as part of the decor. His lively approach is self-evident: “The room has joy and whimsy, elements that as adults we often miss in our own interiors.”
Bullard selected mid-century furnishings alongside commissioned pieces by international talents as well as Mexican artists and artisans to co-exist harmoniously throughout the house. Besides meticulously searching locally for decorative accessories, hand-painted pottery and hand-carved furniture, the designer also worked with the gallery Luteca, which represents Mexican designers, and Voila! Creative Studio, whom Bullard commissioned for custom art, sculpture and weavings.
“Martyn had a very good idea of what he wanted in his project,” says Katrien Van Der Schueren, founder of Voila! Creative Studio. “Mexico, its nature, the environment, the colours, the materials, the country’s history, culture and art were all important influences in the pieces.”
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All the commissioned works throughout the home bring the legacy of Mexican culture forward to the modern day. Some stunning examples include a custom-painted piece above the bar area, which was inspired by the colours of the Baja Peninsula, and a piece in the guest bedroom that honours the beauty of raw materials used by Mexican artisans. Stainless-steel sculptures grace the master bathroom’s outdoor platform, framing the gaze outwards and encapsulating Bullard’s vision for a home entirely imbued in its context.
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