As we may have mentioned in prior volumes, our house was built by the previous owners one room at a time, as money allowed, with no (as far as we can tell) over-arching plan driving the whole thing. Because of this, the bedroom was tacked on to the house with a separate entrance, which meant you had to go outside in order to get to the bedroom. This was one of the first things we corrected way back in Volume 1, with the addition of a few walls and our first kitchen remodel.
There was just one problem. When hiring workers in Mexico, remember that the definition of “contractor” can mean “University-trained licensed architect.” However, it can also mean, “under-employed drunk fisherman who will occasionally skip a day of pulpo fishing in order to lay your floor tile.” If you happen to assemble a crack team of the latter, as we did, and attempt to lead a project in a language you don’t speak, you end up with our first kitchen renovation: badly-laid, cheap tile, cracking seams, a rotting roof, and not a single level or plumb line to be found in the place.
Though the kitchen was certainly larger, it really wasn’t much more usable than it had been when we moved in…and it was definitely not much more attractive. Fortunately, in the time we had been making do in this kitchen, we had also discovered what has become our secret weapon here: The husband-and-wife architect team of Carrillo y Peon, who we hired again to start over on our kitchen.
At last, we finished our kitchen remodel, a down-to-the-cinderblock gutting. The space was entirely re-imagined, and in the end, we had a kitchen that, though smaller in square footage, still manages to FEEL much larger, thanks to its increased light, storage, and usability. Let’s look at some pictures, shall we?
Just for fun…our kitchen, as it appeared the day we bought the house.
Almost everything you see is new. The countertops are covered in huge tile, with arched nooks underneath. They are also a normal height; our last builders assumed that because we aren’t a very Mayan 5’2″, that we must be giants that needed huge, tall countertops. The backsplash is natural stone from Dzitya. The sink and peninsula it sits in is new, and supports a column with “floating” cement shelf to divide the new kitchen from the breakfast nook, without putting in a full wall or breaking the sightline to the ocean from the front door. The ceiling was also completely resurfaced, with recessed lighting added.
The floating shelf that wraps through the kitchen features recessed halogen lighting. The wine area sits underneath another floating shelf for the microwave. The rusted “stainless” steel sink was replaced with beach-friendly plastic, which is perfectly ridgid when installed. We even put a coat of automotive-grade paint on the fridge, just to spruce everything up.
The new pantry provides plenty of storage, as well as hides the biggest improvement to our life so far: a pump that feeds bottled water into our refrigerator’s ice maker and water dispenser. The counter is polished, sealed cement.
The new breakfast nook sports big new windows, and built-in benches around a small dining table. It has really brightened up the Southern end of the kitchen.
Our new front door, which we had moved five inches away from the corner of the room. Y’know, because we’re annoying like that.
The overall before and after, South view.