The inspiration for the Reynolds family home came from within its walls — and from more than 300 miles south of it.
The Shell Beach home that Jeff and Anita Reynolds fondly call Villa Rosa grew from a desire to have a comfortable and stimulating environment for their children, and from a love of Mexican hacienda-style homes. The two goals fit well together because Mexican design “has a handmade artisan type of identity where art and colors surround you,” said Jeff Reynolds. “It is also characterized by rugged materials that stand up to everyday family life.”
In 1997, the couple purchased their somewhat generic, 1981-built home because of its prime location, situated just 100 or so yards from the beach. They remember it as being dated with honey oak paneling, brown shag carpet and heavy drapes that “obscured much of the light and the view,” said Reynolds. It also had an unusual floor plan that required you to “go through some rooms to get to others,” he said.
Major remodels would have to wait. Their first child was just 10 days old when they moved in, and their second child was born 10 months later. So all they could muster was a revamp of their dark, outdated kitchen with its black appliances and vinyl flooring. This included removal of the drop ceiling and fluorescent lights that Reynolds considered “oppressive.” They were rewarded with a surprising discovery: the uncovering of the original ceilings, clad in tongue and groove pine with heavy beams.
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Although their vision for the home hadn’t yet solidified, they did introduce some Spanish elements, including Mexican blue tile floors and tile accents around the kitchen window. Instead of ripping out the old cabinets, they had them painted in bright, Mexican-inspired hues, which Reynolds calls “a fantastic transformation,” and “one of the things we have gotten the most compliments on because it is so original.”
As the family grew, family life took precedence over home improvement. With the exception of a master bedroom remodel, their renovation activities mostly consisted of dreaming and planning, with the help of architect Jeb Thornburg, who was Reynolds’ college friend when both attended Cal Poly.
The big home makeover came in 2003, during which the family moved into a rental home for 18 months. Thornburg was the architect for the project, and Mark Daniels of Shell Beach was general contractor.
They added on to the house, increasing it to 5,000 square feet from 3,600 square feet. Off came a decaying deck and, in its place, went up a wraparound deck totaling 1,600 square feet. During the building process, the couple discovered they were expecting their fourth child, so they scrambled to incorporate a seventh room by turning attic space into a loft.
The most dramatic transformation came in revamping nearly every surface of the home, inside and out, to create the family’s vision of a Mexican hacienda.
The couple wanted a feeling of authenticity and went to great lengths to achieve this. They gave all but one of their fireplaces a kiva-style makeover, which is a rounded fireplace style common in the Southwest.
Generic doors gave way to rustic ones made by Old World Doors. Cast concrete now adds architectural detail to stairs, niche ledges, deck columns, as well as a double-sided quatrefoil window in the newly built entry tower that Reynolds said was “difficult and expensive to build” — but important to the look of the home as “an iconic emblem of Mexican Mission architecture.”
Restyling the walls was a large and lengthy project. Most walls were given a burnished look that involved multiple layers, including paint and hot wax, to create a surface with a variety of textures and sheens.
Many walls are graced with murals by artist Homer Johns. Depicted are a range of images including Mexican flower motifs, Mexican religious iconography and landscape vistas. The family displays religious art in niches, which are highlighted with a copper and gold leaf finish.
The family purchased many items from Luna Rustica, a San Luis Obispo store specializing in Mexican furniture and décor. One of Reynolds’ favorite pieces is the family’s massive dining table that seats 10. Built from mesquite, it is around 75 years old.
The family capped off their remodel with a revamp of their backyard, which now includes an outdoor fireplace and a pizza oven built to look like a large Mexican beehive bread oven, both constructed by Robert Hogue of Mission Masonry.
Today, the children’s ages span from 11 to 18, and the family still finds the house both practical and comfortable, said Reynolds. He acknowledges that going from a nondescript space to living among a riot of color took some adjustment.
However, it has also made them braver. “We have added more and more color in the years since the house was finished,” he said, “and we love it.”
RETHINK YOUR WALLS Be creative with walls. In addition to standard framed art, consider decorative wall treatments, murals, artifacts and repurposed items. In the Reynolds’ entryway, for instance, there are portions of salvaged old doors painted with art.
KEEP COLORS CONSISTENT Although the Reynolds house is very colorful, a primary palette of terra cotta and blue runs through the house, keeping the look cohesive.
CREATIVE WINDOW COVERINGS For a look that isn’t off-the-shelf, consider using unexpected fabrics for window treatments, such as bedding and vintage linens. The Reynolds family had Mexican blankets sewn into window coverings.