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Artist Residence: Patricia Larsen Used Salvaged Materials to Reinvent Her Mexican Casa

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Artist Residence: Patricia Larsen Used Salvaged Materials to Reinvent Her Mexican Casa

September 26, 2022

Artist Patricia Larsen picks up and moves just about every six years. “I have a really restless spirit and I’m quite fearless,” she tells us. Plus, she likes a project.

When we last caught up with Patricia exactly a decade ago, she had recently relocated to Baja, Mexico, from Vancouver BC, where she raised her daughters, Janaki and Klee Larsen. The two are also artists and, like their mother, among the most inventive interior stylists we know (scroll to the end for Larsen family inspiration).

Mexico suits Patricia: she loves the people, the plants, the roving dogs, and the year-round growing season. After Pescadero, she created a home in San Miguel de Allende, where she’s in the process of opening the latest incarnation of the Larsen Studio Gallery, devoted to showcasing Patricia’s paintings, furniture, and clothing designs; Janaki’s ceramics; and Klee’s photography. Patricia, meanwhile, has since relocated an hour northeast to the quiet old mining town of Mineral de Pozos.

Early in the pandemic, she bought a much lived-in, approximately 300-year-old casa in the center of Pozos. During the transaction, she encouraged the sellers to take any parts of the house that they could use for the ranch they were building. That left her with a roofless skeleton that she happily spent the last two years making her own. Join us for a tour.

Photography by Patricia Larsen and Janaki Larsen.

a street dog patricia calls gramps often sleeps by the front door (note the pre 9
Above: A street dog Patricia calls Gramps often sleeps by the front door (note the previous owner’s name etched in the brick). In the morning and eve, Patricia fills bowls outside her entry with water and dog food, and Gramps is one of several regular visitors.
in her home studio (formerly a literal pig sty), patricia wears one of her limi 10
Above: In her home studio (formerly a literal pig sty), Patricia wears one of her limited-edition tunics—”I find the fabric first and that informs what I want to make.” Women in her neighborhood sew Patricia’s designs and she does the final detailing.
the central courtyard is where patricia eats most of her meals. she loves visit 11
Above: The central courtyard is where Patricia eats most of her meals. She loves visiting salvage yards and much of her house was built from finds, such as the steel-framed windows used as sliding glass doors. Patricia worked with a team of local craftspeople and builders many of whom she met while remodeling her former place in San Miguel.

A rebuilt stair leads to the plant-filled flat roof that houses her solar water tank and overlooks the town. Patricia begins and ends the day out by tending her garden, including the magnolia tree, shown here, potted in an old crucible. Reclaimed brick was used for the floor. Scroll to the end for a look at the courtyard as it was.

when the remodel began, the fact that the house&#8\2\17;s corrugated metal  12
Above: When the remodel began, the fact that the house’s corrugated metal roof had been removed was a challenge during rainy season. But the void enabled Patricia to dream. Her living room’s vaulted ceiling was built by one member of her team, brick by brick. During the 13 months of construction, Patricia lived a few blocks up the hill in a tiny rented house that she now uses as her main art studio.

The found tumbleweed hung as a light is a family signature touch: this one, Patricia writes on Instagram, “escaped twice from the back of the truck. I had to chase it down the road and into a ditch.” Natural relics and mud (as a finish) are two other favorite decorating ingredients. In addition to making art, Patricia is a sought-after designer—she’s currently working on a friend’s double adobe in Santa Fe and a development of 36 houses in Baja.

the walls of the living room are finished with pulido, which patricia describes 13
Above: The walls of the living room are finished with pulido, which Patricia describes as “a sort of Mexican version of Venetian plaster.” A niche serves as “a little altar” filled with coral, horns, rocks, porpoise spine found on a beach in Baja. “I also collect all kinds of religious objects, nothing specific—they’re beautiful reminders to be grateful.”
the dining room&#8\2\17;s hanging copper light, made by craftsmen in san mi 14
Above: The dining room’s hanging copper light, made by craftsmen in San Miguel, is just about the only bright accent in the house: “I love color, but because I work with it so much, I like to be surrounded by pale whites, sand colors, and grays when I’m home. I find them restful.”

“Also, I change things constantly,” continues Patricia, “so I can’t commit to a lot of color for the walls and floor.”  The metal chairs are her own design fabricated locally; they’re available from Patricia on request and will soon be in her San Miguel gallery. Note the old bookcase hung horizontally as a ledge/sculptural object.

the dining room steps down into the kitchen, where patricia balanced a metal co 15
Above: The dining room steps down into the kitchen, where Patricia balanced a metal cooking tray on a big white pot to make a breakfast table. She gets around in a Volkswagen Beetle convertible—”I’m always hunting and gathering, and it’s amazing how much you can fit in it.”
patricia initially inserted the stainless steel restaurant sink shown here. &am 16
Above: Patricia initially inserted the stainless-steel restaurant sink shown here. “It looked good but wasn’t very functional: it was made for washing vegetables and had a screened bottom; water accumulated on the bottom and I had to take it apart to keep it clean.”

Wanting “a contrast between finished walls and textured walls,” she peeled off the room’s colored plaster herself and left the original stone and stucco partially exposed.

the restaurant sink got replaced by a large copper pot purchased by the side of 17
Above: The restaurant sink got replaced by a large copper pot purchased by the side of the road; Patricia’s plumber drilled  a hole in it and added the brass taps. For now, she says the setup works well: since she lives alone there aren’t a lot of dishes. But Patricia eventually hopes to come across a salvaged porcelain farmhouse sink for the space.
a tizio lamp sits atop an old screened cupboard used to store a collection of&# 18
Above: A Tizio lamp sits atop an old screened cupboard used to store a collection of  dishes, most of which Patricia—who works with clay and other ceramics herself—gathered on trips to Italy.
patricia&#8\2\17;s painting after glow sits on a table in her bedroom where 19
Above: Patricia’s painting After Glow sits on a table in her bedroom where some of the walls are finished and others, such as this one, were left raw: “they’re like a map of the house over the years.”

Patricia prefers her art to be frameless: “once you add a frame, they become decorative objects.”

&#8\2\20;simple, simple, simple: a long table, a chair, and a bed. i keep t 20
Above: “Simple, simple, simple: a long table, a chair, and a bed. I keep the bedroom really minimal deliberately,” says Patricia.

She removed the doors on the adjacent antique wardrobe and added a curtain “because I love draped fabric. It holds my collection of linen and jute from Mexico and Italy—I’m a fiend for old textiles.” Patricia has a walk-in closet for her clothes.

the bathroom, with a recycled tub and copper piping faucets, was formerly used  21
Above: The bathroom, with a recycled tub and copper piping faucets, was formerly used as a chicken coop. The walls are painted concrete—”one day, I’ll pulido these, too.” Patricia had the tray made from scrap wood and created the curtain from draped fishing netting.

Before

a view of the construction in progress. &#8\2\20;my friends and family real 22
Above: A view of the construction in progress. “My friends and family really thought I had lost it this time, but when I saw the house, I knew what it could be.”

Mineral de Pozos

located \185 miles northwest of mexico city and 40 miles northeast of san migue 23
Above: Located 185 miles northwest of Mexico City and 40 miles northeast of San Miguel de Allende, Mineral de Pozos is filled with ruins from the Mexican mining boom of the late 19th century.

Here are some of our Larsen family posts from over the years:

Follow Patricia on Instagram @patricialarsen and @patricia_larsen_studio.

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