Its colors are inspired by the sunset, and the interiors recall the Americas in the mid-20th century, which is exactly when Casa Mareto was built.
One block off the Gulf, but still close enough to catch the breezes — and the sand — Casa Mareto was built in 1950 and was owned by the same family until now. But the house had been allowed to fall into disrepair when family members who inherited it decided to take their lives elsewhere.
After rejecting an early proposal to completely overhaul the one-story gem, its new owners opted to preserve its classic lines.
“Look at how it was designed for the airflow,” says Joe Stines, who with his partner Cliff Waters, and the Mérida firm Workshop Diseño y Construcción, took 19 months to renovate and restore.
Despite the duration of the project, the renovation was completed with a light touch. Some original doors and furniture remain, sanded, and repainted. The new owners also brought down some 1940s and ’50s objects they had in storage back in Florida.
Although it’s not strictly a beach house, Casa Mareto carries with it all the pros and cons of beach living.
“We have sand, which comes through the screens, we don’t have mosquitos. says Stines. “We have rust,” adds his partner. “Ironwork’s been repainted already.”
And despite the center hallway and side access trail, they still use an air conditioner in the summer. “There’s more breeze in the winter,” says Stines.
For all the details inside, the lure of the outdoors still holds sway. An adult swimming area and a smaller one for children were combined into one large pool. Cast-iron Smurfs, found in a local antique shop, bring a touch of whimsy on the wall behind it.
“We live here,” says Stines, taking a break on the back patio, “and we live on the front porch.”
“That’s what I like, it’s very comfortable and breezy. And plus, you sit on the porch and you talk to people as they walk their dogs,” says Stines, contrasting it with their more confining city home. “You can’t do that in Mérida, not where we live.”
The couple has found the area very neighborly, and some have thanked them for bringing the house back to — and perhaps even beyond — its former glory.
Before buying this one, they had looked at more conventional beach houses but never felt quite comfortable. “Then, someone showed us this house, which was over budget,” says Stines. “But I love old houses.”
For exercise, it’s a mile-and-a-half to walk downtown. On their way, they see evidence of a further renaissance in Progreso — new restaurants and a colonial home that’s being turned into a hotel.
“There’s a lot of history here, there really is,” says Waters.