Thursday, 2 July 2015


My insatiable need to seek out inspirational spaces always manages to rouse my desire for travel! And vice versa! Today, in my virtual quest for visual therapy, I accidentally walked into a Hacienda. What are Haciendas?

Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. The term hacienda usually refers to a landed estate of significant size. Smaller holdings were termed estancias or ranchos that were owned almost exclusively by Spaniards and criollos and in rare cases by mixed-race individuals. In recent times, the term has been used in the United States to refer to an architectural style associated with the earlier estate manor houses.


The hacienda system of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, New Granada and Peru was a system of large land holdings. A similar system also existed on a smaller scale in the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

Hidden in remote tranquil surroundings, the haciendas of Old Mexico have always struck a romantic chord with their rich mix of myth, history, and impressive architecture. Today, these once-abandoned colonial treasures have surfaced in contemporary design, sparking widespread interest in their restoration.

Originally dedicated to coffee, sugar and wheat production, haciendas have been transformed into myriad new roles—as country homes for artists, filmmakers, equestrians, and business entrepreneurs as well as eco-conscious resorts, art centers, riding schools, restaurants and work spaces.

Award-winning authors of books on Mexican design, antique dealers and designers Joe P. Carr and Karen Witynski Carr have been at the forefront of the Mexican design movement for over 25 years.

Together they have worked on residential & commercial design projects throughout the U.S. and Mexico, including hotels, restaurants, corporate ranch retreats and the restoration of an eighteenth-century Mexican hacienda.

Karen and Joe have spent years travelling through Mexican coastal villages and old colonial mining towns, alongside sugarcane fields and down narrow cobble stoned streets in search of  country tables, workbenches, storage trunks, corral gates, and old, heavy doors.

They were intrigued by the diversity they encountered: the variety in style, design, and shape of utilitarian vessels and carved wooden objects. From milking stools shaped like animals to grain-measure boxes and sculptural sugar molds, the pieces were like mirrors reflecting a rich local history as well as the ingenuity of the hands that made them.

Through their books we get to travel behind the scenes with Karen and Joe as they open the doors to Mexico’s remote country estates and reveal innovative interiors, artifacts, and antiques that echo the hacienda’s original architectural splendor. Inside, ancient stone walls and arcaded portals are at home with modern art and colonial antiques. Cobbled courtyards and grand salons come alive with a spirited mix of once-forgotten objects and contemporary furniture.

Once I walked into this virtual treasure trove of history and design, I could'nt  walk out without sharing this new found love for Haciendas, Mexican history and architecture with you. And as I brush off the cobwebs surrounding Hacienda's I am tempted to follow Karen and Joe's trail! To add to my distress as I write this Sex and the City (the movie) is on TV and Bradshaw and her coterie are sipping exotic cocktails in an idyllic Mexican resort with a fabulous view of the ocean! Its a sign!  Margaritas, Mayans and Mexico here I come!