11 June 2010

Get me to Puerto Rico STAT!

Did you see this house in yesterday's New York Times?

It's the absolutely stunning home of Nikos Buxeda-Ferrer and Inés Rosas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I never knew it until yesterday, but San Juan abuts a protected rain forest. The elegant Buxeda-Ferrer and Rosas home overlooks this protected forest and is still ten minutes from San Juan's downtown. It sounds idyllic frankly and you can read more about it is yesterday's Times.

Here are some highlights.




all photos by Moris Moreno for The New York Times

I think it would be safe to say that this is a modern home. It's also one I'm drawn to like a moth to a flame. I cannot get enough of those clean lines and enticing sight lines. I get it that modernism isn't for everybody, but it sure speaks to me.

Don't let the fact that I love it dissuade you from critiquing it though. I'm curious to hear from  people for whom this doesn't sing. Of course anybody's allowed to praise it too, but what is it about modernism that just rubs people the wrong way?

17 comments:

  1. You'd need a permanent maid to go with that house. Something tells me they have one...

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  2. If having a permanent maid is part of the package witht his house I think I could get used to it.

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  3. I am usually on the other end of the spectrum for houses (victorian, or maybe Nick and Nora Charles' penthouse once the kids are grown) but I am also a sucker for big windows and awesome views (as long as the maid/window washer is full-time). So I like it well enough for a modern space because the location has so much to recommend--it could be a tree house and I'd probably still like it.

    But I also noticed it looks like someone really lives there (the couch and chairs actually look comfortable!). I think sometimes what turns me off about ultra-modern rooms is that nothing looks like you could relax on it--the couches are flat and hard with low backs and minimal/no arms, chairs might have interesting shapes but are made out of plastic or metal and I wonder, "where do these people curl up to read a book?"

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  4. The glass used for sheathing buildings is usually coated to repel dirt, so the rain actually cleans it from the outside. The inside is another matter all together. I agree with your objection to the sterility factor in a lot of modern photo spreads. A lot of that is in the styling for shoots though. Ev every time I page through a Dwell magazine I wonder what those places look like after the photographer and stylist go home.

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  5. Not a thing wrong with it.

    I'd happily move in tomorrow.

    We can toss a coin over the master bedroom.

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  6. Love it!!!!!!! I could move in with my toothbrush! Especially for a second home, the clean lines would make it so easy to maintain. I love the way it is open to the outside and all the windows letting in the view. The open floor plan is great for entertaining. In my old life I lived in a old world country French home, which I designed and built. With some life changes I moved to the Beach and bought a soft contemporary retro 70's beach house with high ceilings and lots of glass. It flows easily to the outdoors to take advantage of the ocean views. If any one would have told me that I would be living in a modern house some day I would have laughed at them. But I have to say I really like the Zen feel of the house better than traditional. It is somehow very soothing,restful and uncluttered.

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  7. That place is stunning. As for the rain forest...I experienced a semi-miserable evening in that very rain forest one time. It was very ... rainy. Ha ha ha! I love Puerto Rico.

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  8. Looks like the house opens up so that during breezy and cool days you're not obliged to live under the tyranny of A.C. A friend in Malaysia (who lives in a comparable home/botanical garden) says that A.C. turns the outdoors into your enemy.

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  9. I agree with your friend in Malaysia. I hold out for as long as I can every year and I usually don't start relying on it until the rains start. I rationalize it by saying that I'm just controlling the rainy season humidity but I know it's a damn lie.

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  10. Hi everyone. I ran into this site while googling myself (I admit it). We actually don't have a full-time maid. We have someone come in once a week. The house is pretty easy to maintain, but it definitely was tidied up for the shoot (no stylist, though, just us; the plants in the vases are from our yard, for example). We put away the baby's toys, and the magazines and assorted papers and unsightly kitchen gadgets, plus I had the exterior pressure washed, and I took down baby gates, pool gates and temporary plexiglass covers I installed over the interior stairway. There is also some light photoshop involved (our sofa has been scratched and dirited by our two labs, who didn't make the pictures). With respect to the windows, due to the overhangs, the glass rarely gets wet, so they don't have to be cleaned that often. Also, most of the windows are louvered, the glass is only in the living room. But when they do have to be cleaned, reaching the high windows is not easy. Finally, it seems like everyone in PR is shut off from the outside and spends their lives in ac. I don't like ac (I get enough of it at the office) and that was one of the things I most liked about the design. We have no ac in the living room, and only turn on the ac in the bedrooms at night, and around 3 or 4 months of the year. Between the overhangs and the louvers (which are always open) the house keeps a comfortable temperature most of the year. Finally, although not mentioned in the article, we installed solar panels with a government subsidy, and between that, the low ac use, a solar water heater and CFC, we use very little electricity (whcih is very expensive here). Finally, Sharon, you were probably in El Yunque which is around 35 minutes from San Juan. We are in San Juan itself, next to a much smaller forest which very few people know is even there (still very wet, but the rain is nice sometimes because we also get a lot of blazing sun). Thanks to everyone for the kind words! This was quite an experience.

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  11. Nikos: Thanks so much for stopping in, this is a surprise and an honor frankly. Your home is beyond words, truly beyond words. I can only imagine what it's been like to have opened yourself up to the prying eyes of the readers of the Times and I hope people have been as generous as you deserve. Stop back any time.

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  12. Thank you Paul. This really was a labor of love and obviously the architect gets a lot of the credit, but what the NY Times doesn't say is all the work that went into it. As frequently happens, the house went over budget (we make good money, but are by no means rich), so we had to make up the amounts not covered by the mortgage from pretty much all our non-retirement accoutn savings, modified the original plans (eliminated the central ac, and the garage, and the downstairs terrace was supposed to be an enclosed family/guest room), and built the house in stages (for the longest time several of the rooms had no closets, and the downstairs terrace media area was recently built), I acted as the general contractor to save money (quite a learning experience), and my wife and I personally did a lot of work on the house. We laid down the gravel in the car parking area, installed our master closet (which we bought at Home Depot), put in all of the towel racks and toilet paper dispensers (harder than it sounds, because the house is reinforced concrete, so we destroyed many drills before buying the professional grade one we have now), cleared the lot of tons of garbage (bottles, mufflers, appliances), did a lot of gardening, and my wife (who is very creative) made most of the wall hangings you see, and others you don't. But it was worth it:)

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  13. BTW, this is the architect's website www.toroferrer.com

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  14. Thanks so much for this Nikos, I appreciate getting the rest of the story of your home. Any time you'd like to tell that story in a bit more detail, this forum is yours for the taking.

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  15. Paul, I'll be in PR with my family over Thanksgiving. Would you like me to scout out a modern fixer-upper for you?

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  16. This is now my dream house and is the aesthetic I'm looking for. I am also planning to build a house down in PR; a bit more triangular (think John Hix Triangle House in Vieques) than this. This is great inspiration, this is a beautiful house, Nikos. My Mom could not believe the location!

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