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Renovating Our Beach House, Volume 4

feature photo

Like many beach properties in Chelem and Chuburna, our house was pretty basic when we bought it. The “Beach Box” style of construction was, for a time, very popular in this area, and houses were purely functional. Wealthy Meridanos would use their beach homes for only a month or two per year, and houses were little more than a few big, square rooms, with little in the way of creature comforts. Often, beach homes were traditionally used even less than that; often, it was considered a big enough boost in status to simply OWN a beach house, regardless of how much time the family actually spent there.

Converting our house from this more traditional definition into a modern, full time home with all the amenities, has been uniquely challenging. Like many homes, ours included not just a main house, but a rather large outbuilding used for storage, or bodega. At some point in the past, an attempt had been made to turn this humble structure into a functional part of the house, or at the very least, a caretaker’s cottage. A basic bathroom was added, as well as a large alcove that was either intended as a closet or a kitchenette. It’s tough to say what the original intent was, but the outcome was clear: the space was still not a functional part of the house, and was not fit for daily use. During our first year in the house, we continued using it for storage of boxes of wires, and leftover construction materials. At one point, we attempted to spruce it up with a coat of interior paint and some work on the electrical system, which had zero effect on the bodega’s livability. It was time, finally, to call in the wonderful professionals at Carrilo and Peon Architects, to turn this humble outbuilding into a full-fledged guest house.

Here are the before and after pictures of the transformation, with notes:

The original bathroom in the bodega. Note the extensive use of brown tile, brown sinks, and brown toilets. There was also a tiny, boarded-up window, and cheap aluminum divider for the tiny shower stall. There was no storage, and the overall layout of the bathroom wasn’t right.

New bathroom, same angle. The toilet was moved to the opposite corner, and a new dividing wall was built for the shower. Directly opposite the toilet is new floor-to-ceiling shelving, adding much needed storage to the room. The new shower is polished concrete, and a water pressurization and softening system was added. All new tile is very neutral, with the possible exception of the new shower dividing wall, which was tiled in a cool pebble-texture tile. It adds a very cool accent.

The old, funky shower. You can think of it as a shower, but in reality, it was more like a dumping ground for toxic chemicals and a terrarium for assorted insect life.

New shower stall, same angle. Note polished concrete, and built-in alcoves featuring a touch of the same tile used on the new dividing wall. Not shown is a giant, 70,000 gallon-per-second chrome showerhead that fills this shower stall with high-pressure, piping hot water.

The original north wall. I apologize for the bad lighting in this shot, but it actually does a good job of showing the overall atmosphere of the bodega. It was dark, dirty, and full of assorted odds and ends. The broken louvered windows were either nailed shut, or not screened, so they were never open.

The new north wall. The wall was torn down, and a big glass sliding door was added, which will eventually give the guest house an ocean view. There are new tile floors throughout, all-new electrical including recessed lighting, air conditioning, and overhead fans. A kitchenette was added to the corner of the room, with polished concrete shelving and a ton of outlets added to the new blue textured wall. This will allow guests some autonomy, as they don’t have to come into the main house to microwave a bag of popcorn or have a cup of coffee.

The original Southwest wall. More boarded-up windows, and the closet/kitchenette that the prior owners started but never completed.

New Southwest corner. Again, please forgive the poor lighting. French doors and a step were added along the West wall, and the opening to the closet was made more narrow to allow for another wall of shelving. This space had to do double-duty, providing both a walk-in closet for the guest house on one wall, as well as general household storage on the other. Not shown are the wooden sliding doors, which were added to the West wall of shelves. New minisplit a/c unit is visible in the upper-right, which chills the room quickly.

The old view of the door leading into the old bathroom, where there actually was no door at all. Note the scary exposed wiring, brown toilet, and our futile attempt at painting one of the walls.

New view of the door leading into the new bathroom. Just visible is the sink where the toilet used to be, which sits atop a new concrete vanity. The faucets for the sink are wall-mounted between two built-in alcoves.

That about covers the before and after pictures. Of course, we also have a few more glamour shots of some of the new features of the guest house that we really like:

If you were sitting on the toilet in the new bathroom, this is what you would be looking at. There is finally an actual, honest-to-god door, as well as floor-to-ceiling shelving to add some much-needed additional storage to the room.

Detail of bed setup. The bed was put near the bathroom and closet, naturally. The light above the bed is controlled with a switch mounted just high enough on the wall that you can reach it without getting out of bed.

The new sink in the new bathroom.

Concrete-porn. I swear, I am never going to be able to figure out any other kind of construction.

Overall exterior shot of new guesthouse at night. We LOVE the new exterior lights that Victor chose; they completely transform the mood of the building.

And that wraps it up! We couldn’t be happier with the results, and the project was both on-time and on-budget. Okay, so not EXACTLY on budget, but that’s only due to our extravagant taste in bathroom tiles. The pressure system, which extends to the main house as well, has improved our lives considerably. Our only problem, now, is trying to figure out what to call it: “Bodega” just doesn’t seem appropriate, anymore.

There Are 23 Responses So Far. »

  1. “Casa de Mateo”

    Or, more forward looking – “Poolhouse”

  2. Hey Malcolm – since we are calling the house the “casa”, we are referring to the smaller one as the “casita”. We have just had our place renovated (in Chelem, just East of the entrada Chucho), and its fun seeing the transformations that have taken place in other people’s places.
    On a side note for all you beach residents, our temps in Edmonton this weekend will reach minus 31 without even factoring in windchill.

  3. I think calling it “Heather’s house” has a certain ring to it, don’t you?

  4. Sweet guesthouse, Malcolm!

  5. The Pornetarium

  6. Damn it. Urs always wins.

  7. Great job. Congratulations.

  8. It looks fab Malcolm! Miss you on twitter! Come BACK!

  9. Call it BOB – the Bungalow out Back


  10. Wow, awesome, your contractors did a great job. love the sliding glass doors. Who did them? need some ourselves as we are renovating there in chelem as well.

  11. [...] Renovating Our Beach House Volume 4 Dropped In Posted by root 23 hours ago ( Detail of bed setup the bed was put near the bathroom and closet naturally and renovate the shudderific bathroom of what has been up until now our bodega storage shed and my dance studio comment by heatherinparadise on 11 december 2008 powered by wordpres Discuss  |  Bury |  News | renovating our beach house volume 4 dropped in [...]

  12. [...] Renovating Our Beach House Volume 4 Dropped In Posted by root 18 minutes ago ( It adds a very cool accent the old funky shower i apologize for the bad lighting in this shot but it actually does a good job of showing comment by scott bulger photography on 19 december 2008 heatherinparadise on 11 december 2008 powered by wordpress wor Discuss  |  Bury |  News | Renovating Our Beach House Volume 4 Dropped In [...]

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