A vacation home may be a place of refuge for relaxation and fun, but more than anything, it’s a setting for memories that its inhabitants will hold onto for years to come. When designer Ken Fulk was approached by his friends to help create a treasured getaway in Mexico full of details that conjured recollections of previous trips to places like Mykonos, St. Barts, Tulum, and Ibiza, he decided to give it the same attention he’d give a boutique hotel. The result is “Casa Grande,” a collaboration with architects Víctor Legorreta and Marcela Cortina Rodríguez that even has its own signature color scheme, logo, and typeface.
It took a lot to get here: three years, three tropical storms, and hundreds of artisans and builders, to name a few things. The clients had long admired the late Ricardo Legorreta’s recognizable style and hoped to someday build a house designed by his firm, which is now led by his son. Víctor dreamed up a 30,000-square-foot home that would slowly unveil itself to visitors piece by piece, leading from an unassuming hallway into a dramatic two-story interior courtyard with a reflecting pool and six full-sized palm trees.
“This sense of mystery is very common in Mexican architecture,” explains Legorreta. “It is an architecture about emotions, one that keeps you discovering as you wander through it. From there you go to smaller courtyards and gardens of even smaller scale that create special atmospheres for the more intimate spaces.”
Fulk’s intimate relationship with the clients and familiarity with their tastes allowed him to craft a luxurious retreat that’s so highly personalized it’s instantly iconic. First and foremost, there’s the main color: a shade of pink for which Ricardo — a modernist Mexican architect taught by the great Luis Barragán — was famous. Then there are all the custom accents, from encaustic cement tiles from Oaxaca to a streamlined linear fireplace by Kettal.
Overlooking the ocean, the home certainly isn’t lacking in views of water, but the architects and designer added several more water features throughout the property to give it the feel of an island in its own right. Fulk explains that he “went to great lengths” to perfectly match the shade of the infinity pool to that of the ocean outside to blur the line between them as much as possible.
Casa Grande boasts no fewer than 22 beds for its owners and their guests, with built-in furniture made from the same plaster as the walls giving it an easygoing vibe. Other features include whitewashed wide-plank wood floors, stone, and handmade textiles gathered from various travels around Mexico.
Fulk reminisces: “As the clients arrived to see their completed home for the first time, a mariachi band played in the courtyard while a troupe of dancers wearing long skirts embroidered with ‘Casa Grande’ glided down the staircase. Tequila shots (with tamer refreshments for the kids) and maracas were passed around. After a delicious dinner, as my birthday gift for the wife, the DJ turned up the disco music, and right on cue, hot-pink fireworks exploded in the sky, reflecting in the pools around the property.”
Photos courtesy of Douglas Friedman via Architectural Digest