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Wish We Were Here: Casa Cardenas, Mexico

This past New Year's, I spent one blissful week in the hippie-chic beach town of Tulum on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Superlative tamales, sweet-natured residents, incredible snorkeling right from the sand outside our door... I could go on and on about how great this vacation was (despite, er, the sprinkling of fast-food chains right at the entrance of the ruins). But if I could go back to Mexico at this very moment, I would head straight to the Yucatán capital of Mérida. And there's a good chance that I would base myself at this gorgeous vacation rental: Casa Cardenas.

Do you remember Patrizio Fradiani, who owns this amazing property we wrote about in the May 2013 issue of Lonny? He and his partner, Mark, specialize in restoring historic, culturally significant properties in Italy and Mexico, transforming them into design environments that feel both contemporary and authentic. As part of their new collection of one-of-a-kind vacation rentals, they oversee Casa Cardenas—a colonial home on a quiet street near Mérida's main square, two blocks from the daily market.

The details of the renovation are thoughtful and timeless. The tile in the dining room was reproduced from the original tiles at a local factory. Midcentury chairs look fresh next to an antique table. An exterior stairway leads to an upstairs terrace with a path of exotic wood.

More stunning tile and evocative architectural details connect interior spaces. Color is used judiciously—a teal-hued wall next to a seating area, fire engine–red letters by the front door—and always to great effect.

Admittedly, I'm a sucker for poured cement, but doesn't this bathroom (above left) look like something you'd want to spend all day in? Love the his-and-hers oversize square showerheads and the bench against the floor-to-ceiling tile wall. And don't even get me started on the crazy indoor/outdoor quality of the simple space at top right, which makes the garden feel like an integral part of the bedroom.

The contrast between historic architecture and clean-lined, more contemporary pieces is my favorite kind of interior. It's lovely to see how the beams above the living area and entryway are echoed in the casita added next to the amazing swimming pool.

The house takes its name from this bust (above) of former Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas, which the owners installed in the courtyard. In the evenings, the home and pool seem to glow from within—a vibrant retreat in a destination I can't wait to explore next.

(Source: Luci di Casa)

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