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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Casa Vagantes is a rescued wonder found behind Paseo Montejo

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Veronica Garibayhttp://yucatanmagazine.com
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Casa Vagantes Montejo blends perfectly into the atmosphere of Calle 37, right behind Paseo Montejo. Located 150 meters from the most popular avenue of the city, this remodeled short-term rental is now part of Mérida’s Historic Center.

The facade of the short-term rental is recognizable by its subtle name tag. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

It is one of three newly opened boutique lodgings by Gina Góngora, who repurposed the properties along with her boyfriend, architect Fernando Gómez from Artista Cero. 

The subtle lighting of the home makes for a relaxing atmosphere. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Góngora and Gomez created a modern, unique interior design that reflects the building’s history. The home comprises a traditional abode with a surface of 70 square meters / 754 square feet and has been fully revamped with modern travelers in mind.

The 70 square meters of the home are all covered with its iconic green splatter. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

“I always wanted a home in the Centro,” says Gina. “My grandfather owned properties in the area, so I spent a lot of time here since I was young. The Centro has always been my home. But owning a large property felt like something really far from reach, so when the opportunity for the first house came up we knew we had to take it.”

The furniture is made up mostly of thrifted and restored pieces. The light fixtures are highlighted in a golden tone, becoming part of the decoration. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Gina and Fernando started the first iteration of Casa Vagantes in 2019. Although their design approach aimed at financial savings, Gina and Fernando’s intention was to highlight the antique, unique feel of the neighborhood.

The single bedroom apartment features a second room considered to be a studio, overlooking the street. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

“We were not looking to modernize,” says Gina. “We are reviving, reusing, recycling. Bringing out the current value of each property.”

The green shade is seen in every corner of the living. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Most architectural elements have been retained and carefully restored. The facade maintains its original ochre hue, and the windows and doors were recovered and reused.

Detail of the door, the original of the home. Gina tells me it was covered by a secondary piece of wood when they purchased the property. Photo: Verónica Garibay

All furnishings have been carefully sourced to match the interior. Each room includes mainly locally made items, as well as second-hand pieces found throughout the city.

Two vintage “mecedoras” right at the entrance of the home. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The light fixtures were re-installed to accommodate modern equipment and now form part of the decoration of the home, as a light golden accent against the green walls. 

Scraped walls that go all the way to the kitchen, which starts behind the counter. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Gina tells me that the walls were a surprise that came up as they started remodeling. 

“We started scraping the walls and different colors started coming up. It felt like the story of the house was coming through the paint — all the layers it had lived, all its colors. The main tone was this blue-ish green which goes beautifully with the tiles, which are also original. And so it became our unique, green house.”

Detailing of the entrance in Casa Vagantes. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

Casa Vagantes maintains most of its spatial structure. It features a social area at the entrance that connects to the kitchen, becoming the main living space.

The bedroom overlooks the terrace from a window to the left. The single bathroom also has a small window overlooking the pool. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

This room is connected to the single bedroom, which overlooks the terrace.

The kitchen holds some detailing in white, contrasting with the bright green of the home. It overlooks the table and bench on the patio. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

In the kitchen, the ceramic tiles have been replaced with white polished cement, and the white walls create an open, modern feel that overlooks the patio.

Detailing of the white cement in the kitchen. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The backyard is now a breath of fresh air in often-sweltering Yucatán. It features a cozy deck with two chairs, a dipping pool, and a bench to contemplate the main feature of the outdoor area: the Huaya tree. 

The patio has been restored into a space for gatherings. The pool allows visitors to escape the heat of the city, and the huaya tree provides natural shade. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

“We are nature lovers and it’s something we try to implement in all our properties. There’s something really special in the plants you find already in the space. We loved that this small house featured such a large, iconic tree.”

The same green hue is seen in the exterior of the home, right in the backyard. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

Casa Vagantes Montejo is a reflection of typical Centro living looking back at its roots from the 1930s.

Magazines and fashion books are found all throughout the living. They tell of Gina’s background, who has worked in magazines and boutiques all around. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

Although each Vagante home reflects its own personal story, as well as the feel of each barrio, all the houses are bound by their carefree luxury.

Studio space, right after the entrance in Casa Vagante. Photo: Eduardo Calvo

“That’s what Vagante means for us,” says Gina. “We are wanderers, always looking to discover something else. But we’re repurposing that idea into the Yucatecan lifestyle. We want people to discover the slow-living feel we enjoy. And we want them to do so in some of our favorite parts of the city.”

In Yucatán Magazine: Casa Limonero — This classic Mérida home is now a modernized short-term rental in Santiago

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