How to add a lush sensibility to seamless outdoor living, with ideas from a modern Mexico City home
Updated May 30, 2018
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Contemporary architecture is often paired with precision landscaping—think spiky, structural plants marching forth in tidy rows. Not so at this Mexico City house, where tropical greenery sprouts along rooftops and scales the walls. “We wanted to create an oasis in the middle of the city,” says industrial designer Ezequiel Farca, who remodeled the hillside family home and its two patios with business partner Cristina Grappin. The wildness of the plant life juxtaposed with the structure’s minimalist design evokes the mood of a chic resort, which was exactly the point, says Farca (who opened an office in another sprawling metropolis—Los Angeles). “In a city of 21 million people, your backyard should feel like an escape.” Here, he shares his tips for bringing softness and edge to the outdoors.
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Seek Visual Unity
“An uninterrupted green palette is more soothing than one with a lot of color,” says Grappin of the view from the master bedroom’s patio, which includes densely planted banana trees (Musa x paradisiaca), philodendrons (P. selloum), and areca palms (Dypsis lutescens), as well as ivy along a wall. “They’re natural to this area, so they require almost no maintenance,” says Farca. To create a subdued setting against which plants pop, they used volcanic stone floors and oak furnishings throughout. The team also painted the exterior a deep charcoal (similar to Stone Brown; benjaminmoore.com). Even the dove gray fabric on the outdoor armchairs picks up on the furniture inside. Sunbrella fabric in Spectrum Dove, $27/yard; sunbrella.com.
To make room for seating and greenery, Farca and Grappin shrank the original pool, installed solar panels to power its water heater, and added a small fountain. The sound, along with 25-foot-high walls that block signs of urban life in favor of sky views, creates a retreat.
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Blur the Lines
The designers planted jasmine vines along the rooftops of the four-floor home to provide an untamed contrast to the angular architecture. While the vines require the occasional watering (via automated sprinklers), they are rarely pruned. “We like the wild look,” says Farca.