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Virtual Vacation: Mexico

As much of the country settles in for a bitterly cold weekend, I can't help but daydream a bit about being somewhere (anywhere!) else. Some place warm, sunny, beautiful and near the water is just the ticket to chasing away the winter blues. Besides, after limping my way through my first week back after a 10 day vacation, I'll admit that I (quite unjustifiably) feel that I'm due for another break already. After all, there's nothing like going on vacation to make you crave more time off.

This Mexican beach house was designed by Chicago-based Kara Mann. Featured in Western Interiors' October/November 2008 edition, this house eschews stereotypical hacienda-style in favor of a modern-rustic sensibility. Dark wood beams and trim are strong counterpoints to the soft white walls and create architectural interest, but are more streamlined and polished than the large, rough-hewed beams typically featured in Mexican interiors.

Perhaps the thing I respect Kara Mann most for is her clean, uncluttered style. Each piece of furniture, each accessory is chosen with extreme care and it shows: they're all pretty darn special, even if they're more understated in nature. There aren't a dozen pillows crammed on the sofa, but the two throw pillows that are there really make a statement. The larger pillow fabric is Donghia's suzani print in pink passion and it's one of my all-time favorite prints. The coffee table is the brickmaker's table from Restoration Hardware and I love the age that it brings to the space.

The floor-to-ceiling fireplace surround is both rustic and minimal. Two mismatched (but quite stunning) side chairs invite cozy after-dinner conversations around the fire. The chartreuse chair is just about the only colorful piece of furniture in the space, but it picks up nicely on the colors in the patterned rugs and suzani-print pillows. The wingback chair's bold and architectural take on a classic shape is quite modern and reminds me of the Rand wingback that I have in my own living room.

I love how all the track doors can be opened up to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces. And with a view like that, all you need are some simple white curtains to frame the ocean.

Doesn't that bench out on the covered porch look like the perfect spot for an afternoon siesta?

The perfect spot for outdoor dining at dusk. Kara shows that there's no reason to forgo comfort and style with standard-issue patio furniture. Instead, why not opt for indoor furniture that can stand up to the elements?

Again, the transition from indoor to outdoor is seamless. I wish Kara's portfolio had a shot of the exterior of the house, which I can only imagine must be stunning given the location, deep porches and stone facade.

A great spot to escape the intense afternoon sun while still enjoying the view.

The first of three bedrooms. I love the mix here of modern and traditional. The navy blue sidetable is a great touch and really pulls out the blues in the photographs above it and the rug underneath. The wire-framed Louis XV-style chair is also an interesting, if unexpected, choice but perfectly suits the small space.

I featured this room recently on my post about canopy beds and I think this might be my favorite of the three bedrooms, primarily because of the arched windows and trim. The spareness of the wrought iron bed is also lovely and frames the bed just as the narrow dark crown molding does. The pink accents in the pillows pick up on the fuschia cushions in the living room and, together with the predominance of white and dark brown, create a sense of cohesion throughout the house.

I love, love, love this bathroom. There's just something so Old World about it, but with all the luxuries of the 21st century. The traditional tiles and antiqued vanity are gorgeous, but what really makes this space for me are those screened shutters and how the arc of the window echoes the arch separating the bathtub from the rest of the room.

I can never get enough of a big, dramatic headboard and this one really delivers. I can't help but think though that if the wallcolor were a bit darker (maybe a nice rust or chocolate?) then the headboard was shine all the more. I know though that a darker paint color goes against the open and airy feel of the house, but I think a dark, cool bedroom works just about everytime.

These two mirrors are gorgeous -- anyone know where they were sourced? The floor tile and backsplash are also a great nod to classic Spanish style. Perfecto!

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