Mexico Modern

For the design and decoration of a Brookhaven couple's vacation home along the Sea of Cortez, designer Barbra Howard Eschews traditional south-of-the-border style, opting instead for something soft and contemporary.

When it came to furnishing an Atlanta couple’s vacation home, located near where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, designer Barbara Howard had the colors of the nearby sandy shores on her mind.

“The clients didn’t have a preconceived idea of exactly what they wanted,” says Howard. “They asked for something different than what they have in Atlanta—a design scheme that was simple, easy to take care of and easy on the eyes.” Once a palette of soft ivories, creams and beiges was established—a Howard hallmark—the designer and her clients made half a dozen trips to the house over the course of construction, which took about a year.

The home is in Querencia, a private golf community that features top-notch dining, spa and fitness facilities, as well as jaw-dropping views of the ocean. Plus, it’s just a few blocks away from an assortment of five-star resorts, including the storied One & Only Palmilla (a long-time favorite hangout for Hollywood cognoscenti). But when it came to furnishing the house, Howard called upon a mélange of Atlanta shops and showrooms to help her get the job done. And while most of the pieces in the house were sourced in Atlanta—before being shipped to San Diego, making their way across the border and snaking their way down the Baja California peninsula to their final destination—the home still retains a sense of place.

“The clients wanted to include Mexican influences, of course, but they didn’t want that look to be overbearing,” says Howard. “This project was about capturing the essence of Mexico in an understated way. Even with so much having been bought in Atlanta, you get a real sense of place through the art and other special pieces.”

Shopping excursions to San Miguel de Allende, the popular arts community located in Mexico’s mountainous bajío region, unearthed an array of one-of-kind designs handcrafted by local artisans and craftsmen. Custom pieces, such as the dining room table that was commissioned, and textiles from Oaxaca are just a few of the locally-sourced items that made their way into the design scheme.

As the home started to take shape, the vision for the homeowners’ lifestyle here coalesced. “There is a real blur between indoors and out,” says Howard. “The sliding doors in the living room can be opened to where they simply vanish, almost doubling the living space.” To further eliminate the demarcation between inside and out, Howard specified travertine flooring for both. The result is a seamless transition, especially on cool starry nights when guests mingle from the kitchen and living areas to the fire pit and pool. Such versatility in a house is especially important to the homeowners, a couple of empty nesters who enjoy it just as much when it’s just the two of them as they do when their children and families visit.

“We wanted to capture a laidback way of living while paying attention to the smallest of details and without sacrificing quality,” says Howard. “In the end, this home is about getting away from it all.”


INTERIOR DESIGN Barbara Howard, Marshall Howard Interior Design, Decatur 30030. (404) 370-0334;