Casa Ocea: A View With a Few Rooms

In the realm of architectural transformation and creative restoration, here is a testament to the power of collaboration, a love for artistry, and coastal living

The ever-changing hues of the Gulf of Mexico reflect an early-morning sunrise that frames the house’s iconic pasta tiles and chukum pool.

Photography by Scott Coe & Tiffany Thompson

Nestled along the pristine shores of Chuburná Puerto on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, this enchanting residence melds sustainable design with the Yucatán’s tranquil ambiance.

In 2021, Tiffany Thompson and Ted Habiger embarked on a journey to breathe new life into a neglected beachfront villa, ultimately giving birth to Casa Ocea. 

Casa Ocea’s dining table and chairs were designed by Tiffany Thompson and crafted by woodworker Luis Echazarreta.

Both are entrepreneurs in diverse fields. Tiffany is the proprietor of a contemporary art agency known for driving monumental projects worldwide. Ted is a celebrated chef and restaurateur famous for his barbecue in Kansas City’s Room 39 and Mérida’s Ánima. They united their talents and passions to transform Casa Ocea into a sanctuary where artists are hosted and showcased.

The hanging art on the towering staircase was a collaboration between Peregrine Honig and Lorena Gallardo.

Tiffany Thompson calls Ocea “a coastal gem that effortlessly fuses artistry, heritage, and creativity.”

As a nod to one time-honored technique, the walls, pool, and chef’s open kitchen are finished with chukum — a plaster derived from the resin of indigenous chukum trees. 

Beach grasses were woven to make a palapa for the upstairs terrace.

Local artisans crafted wooden and natural fiber doors that encapsulate the spirit of the region’s rich heritage. The iconic pool features custom-made traditional pasta tiles boasting a timeless black-and-white checkered pattern. 

The grand staircase wall showcases a façade constructed using the rajueleado technique, inserting small chinked stones into precisely carved slashes on the walls.

Casa Ocea’s kitchen has locally woven pendant fixtures and dishware from Maya artisans.

Sustainability was a primary objective. The transformation of the old kitchen cabinets into a retractable stage provides an enchanting backdrop for performers, who appear to be floating on water. A once-forgotten piece of furniture was repurposed as a ping pong and dining table. Tiffany worked with a nearby artisan to design a round dining table and, on another occasion, bespoke hand-woven natural-dyed rugs in Oaxaca.

The garden walls are alive with an Otomi embroidery pattern mural, again evidence of how local talents worked with the owners. 

A mural at Casa Ocea, painted by Andrés Baeza, was inspired by Otomi embroidery.

Inside, much of the furniture bears Tiffany’s designs, lending each space a personal touch. Moreover, the rooms are enriched by exceptional artworks contributed by artists who have previously left an indelible mark.

Casa Ocea transcends the traditional concept of a residence, emerging as a nucleus for artistic interaction. At its core lies a residency program that is a magnet for artists from diverse corners of the world. 

On Casa Ocea’s terrace, a circular bamboo couch was made locally.

This coastal haven has welcomed a distinguished cohort of residents, including a Latin Grammy Award-winning musician, internationally celebrated maestros, a BBC journalist, and visual artists whose works are in museums. The local creative community occasionally enjoys intimate outdoor concerts performed against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico.

While beautiful Casa Ocea contrasts the bustling energy of the nearby capital city, guests here surrender to the tranquility of coastal living.

IG: @casaocea

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