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Construction Project: Casa "La Esperanza"

The Result

This page shows the completed house, shortly after we occupied it in March 2015.

At first sight, this new smaller house may seem a step or two down from "El Refugio". But I think that it has fulfilled its design principles, and offers a more practical and ergonomic place to live, built to a good quality standard. I am personally far more content to live here than in "El Refugio", which with its high demands, had become more of a liability than an asset.

These photos are not recent - I'll replace them and update this page when my camera is fixed.

1 Outside

The exterior, as one approaches it from the main road to Jacona. The main gates open from inside, so one firstly opens the pedestrian door, and then unbolts and opens the vehicular doors from inside. The inside is also covered, so one can do this in the rain without getting wet. I don't think we can very well use an electric motor with doors like this, but they are easy enough to open and pretty secure.

The post on top of the wall is the input for a telephone/cable connection, for when this will be available here.

A view from the other side, showing the power inlet, electricity meter and gas inlet. The street is still a mess (even more than before, after the construction work here). There is an unoccupied space of 9.7 meters to the left, which we were not able to buy, but which would have served no useful purpose.

A view through the pedestrian entrance. For this house, we fitted a simple doorbell (with two ringers inside) and a door viewer, rather than an intercom. The small door is fitted with two security locks (one embedded, one surface mount). We are still missing a mailbox and street number sign, but the only mail we get here at the moment is the electricity bill and they manage to get this through the door.

2 Open Zone

This comprises those areas open to all visitors. Outside there is a garden, an entertainment area, and a terrace; there is also a storage house, which will normally be kept locked. Visitors will also have access to the entrance hall and half bathroom - these are used as part of the entertainment area.

2.1 Garden

A view from by the parking area, looking down the central path to the house. To the right is the entertainment area, with a covered path to the right of this.

To the left from the entrance is the storage house, with gas tank on top - still not really attractive, but in this position it is out of the way. To the right of this is a stone enclosure for burning trash.

A view over the terrace, porch, and entertainment area from by the living room.

There is a path around the property by the boundary wall - this is at the back of the house. This 110m circuit actually serves as a running track for when I do not care to go outside; the turns are quite wide and not a serious impediment at the shuffle I manage at my age and this elevation. The pretty arches are actually to stop the boundary wall from falling over. Thanks, "maestro" X!

A view over the garden from the entertainment area. There are 10 Nerium Oleander plants with pink flowers along the path; when grown, these will make the wall look much nicer.

An view at night from near the storage room.

2.2 Entertainment Area & Terrace

The entertainment area is to the right side on entering. This was taken late evening when the sun is low - it should be shaded from the strongest sun.

The kitchenette, with barbecue, stove (with oven), and refrigerator, together with a sink unit. The plant to the left is a nectarine, which Verónica has supported with string.

A view down the path to the right of the entertainment area. This covered walkway enables one to enter in the rain without getting wet. There are lights to the side - in addition, each table has three overhead LED spots and a power outlet.

Another view of the kitchenette, looking toward the terrace. The additional section of roof over the path to the right means that the path from the main gate to the terrace and house entrance is completely covered.

A view from by the entertainment area at night, showing the exterior lighting (except for a set of 8 lights for the path at the back and side of the house that is switched off).

A view down the terrace from by the wall of the kitchenette. I was originally going to make the porch area (in between the round columns) somewhat higher than the terrace, with walls either side - but later decided it was unnecessary complication (Rubén was pleased about that, having found it quite complicated enough already).

Looking the other way down the terrace from by the kitchen. At some stage, we'll get round to putting some seating here.

2.3 Entrance Hall & Half Bathroom

A view of the entrance hall from the exterior front door, with the half bathroom on the right. I shamelessly pilfered the design of the interior front door from the internet. Both these doors are of American oak.

When we have large gatherings in the entertainment area, the exterior front door will be left open as shown here, so visitors can use the half bathroom. The interior front door can then be locked.

The floor tile here is a fairly pricey stone-look one; the design is randomly generated so each piece is quite different. The texture is very attractive with a sheen plus small bright flecks (like quartzite?).

The double sloped ceiling here has the same heights at the apex and sides as does the living room; but being narrower, it is more steeply inclined.

A close-up of the carving on the top part of the door - the remainder is equally good. To do this, the carpenters sent the panels to a specialized wood carver. Since the internet photo was of low resolution, the carver had to fill in the fine details. Thumbs up!!

Inside the half bathroom. The mirror is embedded (it is flush with the tile), and has a border compatible with the decorative trim. I had a 'duh' moment on the realization that we could have bought a plain mirror and put the decorative trim around it - but I think that this actually looks better.

The toilet is a one-piece ecological one with good stated performance (more than capable of discharging anything you can put out, if the demonstrations on youTube are anything to go by).

We were originally going to have a narrower cabinet here, but later decided that it would be better if it occupied the full width of the room. We had the granite fitted accordingly, and subsequently got the carpenter to extend the cabinet with these side doors.

3 Restricted Zone

This comprises areas that can be used with a relatively small number of well-known acquaintances. It is centered around the dining/bar area and kitchen, with a large living room and a smaller sitting room.

Together with the entrance hall and half bathroom, the general decorative scheme is cream/beige colored texture with American oak carpentry.

3.1 Dining Area & Bar

A view over the dining area from by the interior entrance door, looking toward the living room door.

A view showing the dining room table with the kitchen behind.

From by the dining table, looking toward the bar table with the interior entrance door to the right and the sitting room door straight ahead. The design of this door is the same as that of the living room; also shamelessly pilfered.

3.2 Kitchen & Pantry

At first sight, the kitchen seems rather small - in fact at one point I temporarily changed the plan to make it larger. But at this original size everything fits in nicely, and everything is to hand (I think it is much more ergonomic than the much larger kitchen in "El Refugio"). With the island unit, there is plenty of counter space.

A view from behind the sink, looking toward the stove, microwave, and pantry door. We still have a strip of the white tile behind the stove, but I think I can live with this. The hood is of course recirculation, but we can always open the windows here (indeed, they are normally left open).

A view from the other side, showing further counter space between the refrigerator and dishwasher; in fact the total counter area is actually significantly greater than that in "El Refugio".

I am still not happy about the white tile that appears this side, but have no inclination to deal with this at the moment.

Another view from behind the sink unit, looking over the island unit toward the dining table. The tap features a retractible nose and an aerator; the nose also has a light that glows blue with cold/cool water, purple with warm water, and red with hot water.

Another feature that makes the kitchen more capacious than it first appears is the walk-in pantry. This is a view looking toward the living room door, with the kitchen to the left and the walk-in pantry to the right. With this pantry and the better-designed island unit, this kitchen also provides significantly more storage space than does that in "El Refugio".

The pantry has a bright LED light with a sensor that turns on the light when someone enters. The five rows of shelving provide 7.3m2 of shelf space, plus floor space. This is well over double what the two built-in pantries in "El Refugio" provide - and the space is much more accessible and better illuminated. The shelf in the middle is intended for everyday items - it is at a convenient height and enables easy identification and access. The floor is used for heavy items, and there are two wine racks as shown here; the top shelf for lighter items. The remaining items give plenty of space, especially for storing cartons of refreshment.

3.3 Living Room

A view over the living room from by the door. This room will be used for entertainment such as listening to music - its large size, shape and construction lend it well to this.

A view from the front of the living room looking toward the back.

A view from the back corner.

3.4 Sitting Room

By the door to the sitting room, looking toward the mosaic at the center of the room.

A view of the front of the sitting room, looking out over the terrace.

A view of the sitting room from by the terrace.

A similar view, but showing the high ceiling with ceiling fan suspended from a pole.

4 Private Zone

The rooms here are located along the length of a corridor that (with the stairs to the roof) runs the width of the house. There are no external windows; instead, natural light is provided by skylights. Access from the restricted zone is via a short passageway. This makes the zone very quiet and secluded.

The general decorative scheme here is cool-white textured walls with medium brown pine carpentry (except for the bathroom cabinets, which are again of oak).

4.1 Corridors

This short passageway separates the restricted and private zones.

Looking down the main corridor from by the study.

4.2 Bedrooms

The master bedroom is located toward the side door, just before the laundry room. Both this and bedroom 2 have openable windows that face onto the corridor, but no skylights - hence the light level is relatively low.

A view from by the door of the master bedroom, looking over to the door of the ensuite bathroom. It is rather cozy to be sure after that of "El Refugio", but all the furniture from that fits in here, with the exception of the settee, which is in bedroom 2. This is despite the lack of a separate dressing room; instead all the closet space is along the far wall.

A view from by the door of the ensuite bathroom, looking over to the bedroom door. The King bed and two bedside tables fit in nicely, with a comfortable amount of space to open the drawers of the closet. As was the case in "El Refugio", there are dimmable spots over each side of the bed, and at one side (the left in this photo) there are additional switches for the main room lights (the ceiling fan, and over the closets).

A view of the closet, showing the internal design. This is symmetrical: of the four lower sections with sliding doors, the outer sections contain wide drawers with narrower shelving above, and some reduced height hanging space; the center sections contain shelving below and full-height hanging space. The six swing doors above give access to additional storage space.

Bedroom 2 is essentially identical in size, shape and layout to bedroom 1, with exactly the same closet and lighting, but without the ensuite bathroom - instead it uses the shared bathroom next door. I did think of providing a 'Jack-and-Jill' type arrangement here (i.e. a separate door to the shared bathroom from bedroom 2), but considered that it was not worth the difficulties of ensuring that the two bathroom doors were locked/unlocked in tandem.

4.3 Full Bathrooms

The sink area of the shared bathroom.

The remainder of the shared bathroom, comprising toilet, shower cubicle and "Jacuzzi" bathtub. The tile used in these two bathrooms has fine etchings making it completely non-slip (even with soapy feet); this is a big plus for me as I was always a bit apprehensive having soaped one foot standing on that to soap the other...

Although we bought new shower units for this house, we preferred those I bought for "El Refugio". These have three types of spray, one of which is aerated and very sensual (soft, yet firm ;-)). I could find nothing like this available in the current catalogs. So I exchanged the shower heads and put the new ones in the old house (luckily the screw thread is exactly the same, even though they are of different brands).

A closer view of the sink unit, which is of American oak with "Green Butterfly" granite over. It has a plain but practical ceramic basin (made in Colombia), and the tap is of course a good-quality one-touch mixer.

The sink area of the ensuite bathroom.

A view of the shower cubicle; in fact, unlike the shared bathroom where three sides are needed, here in the corner with the curved wall there is only one. This in fact makes for a very practical showing area, with plenty of space to move; it is also possible to leave the door open while the shower is running without any water emerging, since it is well away from the shower unit. I think I can say that this has made good use of the curved wall.

A closer view of the sink unit, which is essentially the same as that in the shared bathroom, but featuring "White Dallas" granite.

4.4 Study

The study is located at the end of the long corridor, next to the shared bathroom. It has a window opening onto the corridor, and (unlike the bedrooms) its own skylights for good natural light.

During the day, the skylights give a very pleasant and evenly distributed light; one of the seven in this room is visible in the photo. This light seems a lot more consistent than that through the large windows of tinted mirror glass in "El Refugio".

This room is effectively centered around the desk - again, the curved wall makes for an appropriate layout here.

There is also a good variety of articificial light, as is necessary in this room. Apart from the ceiling fan with 4 LED bulbs, there is an LED tube over the desk, a hanging lamp with LED bulb over the table in the corner, and two spots over the filing cabinet and bookcase.

4.5 Laundry Room, Stairs & Roof

The laundry room, containing closet, lavadero and washing machine. To the right is the door to the room under the stairs, housing the main circuit box.

The room under the stairs is surprisingly spacious...

The stairs to the roof.

From by the top of the stairs looking toward Jacona and Zamora.

From the roof looking over the front of the property.

From the roof looking toward tinaco, pressure system, and steps.

We found the water here to be much softer than that of "El Refugio", and it now appears that a water softener is unnecessary.