Mexican bolthole Los Durmientes offers total immersion in nature

Los Durmientes by Bernardo Chavez Peón – a picturesque Mexican bolthole makes a dreamily idyllic retreat

Mexican bolthole in valle de bravo
(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

In the evergreen woodlands of Mexico’s Valle de Bravo, seasons arrive subtly and discreetly. ‘Autumn here isn’t orange, and winter isn’t white,’ says architect Bernardo Chavez Peón. But while local pine and ash trees stand perennially verdant, the landscape’s gentle variations are discernible. ‘On the ground, where shrubs and flowers grow, you can see radical changes throughout the year,’ he says. There, nestled between hills on a barren strip of land once used for agriculture, now stands a home designed by Chavez Peón as a weekend retreat for a family of five. This, an idyllic Mexican bolthole, is the first residential project by the architect, who established his Mexico City-based practice in 2019.

Incorporating the shifts of the natural surroundings into the architecture was Chavez Peón’s principal intention. He recalls his clients saying, during initial visits to the site, that they would be happy with little more than a tent there. ‘The idea was for them to go not only for the house, but for the site itself,’ he says, adding that in the common areas, he wanted to erase the boundary between interior and exterior. 

Los Durmientes by Bernardo Chavez Peón

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

Stepping inside this Mexican bolthole

One particular view became the project’s focus: in the distance, fog settles between two overlapping hills, creating a dynamic play of light and shadows. An expansive living room, described by the architect as the heart of the home, is oriented towards this spectacle. 'Instead of watching TV, you can observe the changes in the atmosphere – the sun, the rainfall, how the mist moves around and dissipates,’ he says. Other interior spaces either frame slivers of the views or open to them fully, inviting the temperate climate in.

Completing the sense of a total immersion in nature, Chavez Peón employed locally sourced materials, including stone and dark-tinted pine, throughout the structure; bathrooms feature details in Santo Tomás marble, while wood and Mexican volcanic rock make up the floors. ‘Nature itself gave us the palette,’ says Chavez Peón. ‘And we didn’t want to compete with it by using foreign materials.’ Viewed from afar, there is a delightful tension to the project – it appears refi ned and contemporary, but also as if born of the earth or in the process of being engulfed by it. The variegated stone and wood of the façade stand already as testaments of the passage of time and, though it was only completed in 2021, one can already imagine the building ageing with grace and confidence.

winding staircase at mexican retreat

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

Richly textured spaces mimic the exuberance of the scenery – lavish textiles in muted hues abound, with accent pieces of woven palm or terracotta. Light bounces off warm white furnishings, but mostly, it is absorbed by the architecture’s darker surfaces, creating an easeful atmosphere that embraces visitors and invites them to unwind. Above all, Chavez Peón explains, this was a house conceived as a place where the family’s friends and relatives can escape the demands of city life and come together. The clients’ penchant for hosting led them to add a sixth bedroom to the project during the late stages of the design work, so as to accommodate additional guests. Bedrooms and other private spaces are characterised by a noble austerity, where minimal furniture is balanced by a generosity of light and texture.

overgrown nature around mexican house

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

Two full kitchens, one inside and another on a terrace, are connected through a vegetable garden. Similarly, the dining area is split in two. ‘We didn’t want to have one enormous dining room because, when it’s just the family, it’s nice to sit down at a smaller table,’ says Chavez Peón. And when the family do host larger gatherings, the floor-to-ceiling windows that separate both areas can be opened, ‘and so, although half the group is inside and the other outside, there’s one shared ambience’.

Perhaps the home’s most striking feature is its swimming pool, located at the foot of the overlapping hills that enchanted both architect and clients. Echoing the symmetry of the living area that overlooks it, the simple black rectangle, which also houses a jacuzzi, takes on a sculptural purpose when not in use. Like a piece of land art, the dark stillness of the water refl ects an everchanging sky above. ‘You can see the pool from every main area of the house, and it’s beautiful to be able to watch the clouds move on its surface,’ says Chavez Peón. 'And once you’re in it, at ground level, you feel like you’ve become a part of the earth.’ 

living space in mexican botlhole in valle de bravo

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

swimming pool in mexican bolthole in valle de bravo

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)

inside a mexican retreat looking out of orthogonal window

(Image credit: Fabián Martínez)


A version of this story appears in January 2023 Wallpaper*, The Future Issue, available now in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today