When designer Mónica Calderón and architect Ezequiel Farca moved from Mexico City to Los Angeles about 13 years ago, they settled into Beverly Hills. But after visiting Santa Monica, the creative couple fell in love with the beach. Farca and Calderón didn’t want to deal with the hassle of building a house from scratch, so when they found a 4,500-square-foot property with great bones from the 1940s, they were strongly against tearing it down. “We decided to preserve part of the structure and history of the house, especially because there’s a lot of Spanish-style houses and colonial influence in the area,” Calderón says.
With their triplets going off to college, Calderón and Farca also wanted to avoid spending multiple years working on the house. That meant time was of the essence. The plan was to respectfully remodel the abode based on their needs as a family while maintaining the charm of California architecture and spicing it up with the richness of Mexican design. The final result is a tasteful reinterpretation of the classic Spanish style with a modern twist. “Santa Monica has this feeling of being like a small town, and all of a sudden you see all these architects just tearing everything down, maximizing the space, and doing white boxes,” Farca says. “We loved the idea of having something that was typical for Santa Monica [while] upgrading it to our needs.”
Experimenting with contrast is something that the couple pushes their clients to do all the time, so when it came to their own home, they didn’t hesitate to practice what they preach. The biggest risk—painting the house black—was a gamble but proved to be well worth it. “Houses in Santa Monica are pastel-colored and classic,” Calderón observes of the predominant look of the area. Setting the surrounding lush green landscape against dark black paint provided an irresistible jolt.
Taking A Room With a View a step further, Farca and Calderón quite literally broke down the barriers that prevented them from being fully immersed within their beachy surroundings. “There was really no connection between the indoor and the outdoor so we ended up just opening everything up to all of the spaces as much as we could,” he explains. “It’s a small house with all the needs that we have and all the use of the space.” Though the rooms inside are separated by walls, there’s a sense of interconnectedness that flows throughout. Moving from the living room into the kitchen, the colors change from black to green—not unlike outside—thanks to wood paneling and marble countertops.
Building a dialogue between every piece inside the house was another factor that the couple took into consideration. “It’s very important for people to perceive that feeling when they come inside our home,” Calderón notes. Admittedly, it was a bit of a backward process because their house was envisioned from the inside out. Once construction was complete, Calderón had her work cut out for her with a blank canvas space to fill with fresh ideas. “The fun part of designing the project was really bringing in the essence of Mexican influences in the designs, colors, furniture, art, and accessories,” she shares. “There’s a lot of elements in the house that really bring in that warmth.”
Calderón was very intentional about the pieces she chose for the space. Most of the furniture was designed and manufactured in Mexico using traditional techniques—a small part of the couple’s larger mission to increase visibility for Mexican craftsmanship. Latin American artwork that they’ve collected over the years is also showcased throughout the house, from Pedro Friedeberg, Eamon Ore-Giron, and Carlos Mérida to Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Mathias Goeritz, and Jorge Yázpik. Ultimately, the cultural fiber that is woven into the foundation is what truly brings this home to life. “The result is beautiful because you can really feel that love poured into every [area] of the house,” Calderón adds. “Every space has a different story, but there’s a very special connection between them.”
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