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Renovating Our Beach House, Volume 7

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If you have been following along, you know it has been a long road to take our squat, one-level “beach box,” a structure whose only intended purpose was to have a shady place for a wealthy Meridano to hang a hammock and drink a Sol in the summer, and turn it into a modern, year-round dwelling. Every room and every detail was stripped down to its barest pieces, and rebuilt almost entirely from scratch. And while the inside became more and more comfortable (making my first nights here a distant memory), the outside still left a lot to be desired. We had a huge piece of land that we had not done a thing with, and didn’t use for anything other than a place to park the car.

Similar to the STFO initiative from Volume 5, we approached our landscaping and facade redesign with one overall goal in mind: to eliminate every bit of sand from our lot. Sand had penetrated too deeply into our lives, not to mention the sheets of our bed; we laughed when we would check into a hotel and dump the sand out of our shoes at the end of the day. Sand blew in under the cracks in the doors, it pelted the house, damaging the paint, and blew in your eyes on a windy day. Along with taking care of our heat and humidity issues, removing sand from our lives was another important step in feeling like we had a bit of a normal life.

When it came to the facade, we had already replaced the front door and windows during previous remodeling projects, which was an improvement. We still had the problem of the house seeming very low, squat, and without a ton of visual interest. Adding the closet to the bedroom, the breakfast nook, and all the air conditioning units and satellite dishes on the roof made the front of the house a bit of a hodgepodge, and we were looking for a way to make the house read a little taller, as well as unify the front.

We built a new overhang to wrap around the front of the house, and covered it with terra cotta Spanish tile. Then, we added a decorative “crown,” which serves to make the house seem less like a squat little bunker from the outside.

We built two natural-stone planters that run the length of the property, brought in crushed gravel for the driveway and utility area on the side of the main house, and built a stone patio and fountain outside the guest house. A few inches of soil were spread out on every remaining bit of sand, and a sod lawn was planted. The lawn is watered by an in-ground irrigation system, which is fed from our well. The overall result is stunning…we think we must have one of the only lawns in Chelem, and certainly one of the only lots that has managed to remove all traces of sand. I keep checking Google Earth, to see if it has updated…I look forward to seeing one green triangle in the middle of all this tan sand.

We could keep working on this house forever, and of course, we have a wish list of new features (A pool! Another bedroom! A new deck!) scratching at the back of our minds. You have to pick a stopping point, though, and for us, for now, we are calling this house “done.”

It marks the end of a long journey, that started in an attic apartment in Connecticut in 2005. Like many of our readers, it began by drinking beer late at night and wistfully flipping through the local real estate websites, wondering if we couldn’t build a better life starting with a wreck of a Mexican beach house. As it turns out, you can. Now, after living in a construction site for years, we can finally relax and enjoy it.

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