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From a hallway sink for hosing off sandy toes to a terracotta-tiled soaking tub, there’s a bright idea around every corner of Alex Boudreau’s family vacation home, located along the blissful beaches of Todos Santos, Mexico. These clever and super-functional spaces are a reflection of the Brooklyn-based designer’s sheer creativity—and her ability to stick to a budget. Building a retreat from the ground up is no cheap feat, so Boudreau got scrappy with some of her design choices and sourced the majority of the materials locally, including the milky white piedra laja blanca stone found throughout the home. Here, she reveals five hacks that came in handy when constructing her family’s personal oasis. 

Combine Upper Cabinets and Open Shelves

In a moment of practicality, Boudreau added a lone upper cabinet to a floating ledge in the kitchen. The closed storage is meant to hide all the necessities that don’t quite fit with the beachy aesthetic (think: baby bottles and thermoses, which can be easily accessed by opening the accordion doors). Bourdeau intentionally left a few inches of bare space on either side of the cupboard so people can set down a drinking glass or a pile of mail as they rummage through the refrigerator. 

Know Your Paints 

Picking up on the golden hues of the desertscape, Boudreau had the kitchen island table painted in Farrow & Ball’s Citron, finished with an antiqued glaze. Looking back, she admits floor paint would have also been a perfect choice for this piece. “It’s durable and made for spaces that are high traffic,” she says, thinking about all her nieces and nephews swinging their feet as they sit on the stools. 

Skirt Built-In Storage

In an effort to save on cabinetry, Boudreau hung fabric skirts underneath a number of the sinks, including the one in the front hallway (used for rinsing off sandy feet from the beach), which is suspended from a basic tension rod. While she relied on a seamstress for the cutting; sewing; and, in some cases, making the ties, Boudreau says this is one job anyone can easily tackle with a plain ⅜-inch pole and some rings with clips. You don’t even have to be precise with trimming the panels. “I love a frayed edge,” she says. 

Reconsider “Boring” Materials

Concrete is readily accessible in the Baja area, so Boudreau made a habit of using it everywhere: the countertops, window frames, storage ledges. “This is how homes are built here,” says the designer. When mixed with some pebbles from local beaches and shards of glass, the polished surface practically resembles the look of terrazzo, only it’s infinitely more affordable. To bring a hint of color to a concrete sink basin, Boudreau’s fabricator added clay powder to the mixture. 

Put Scraps to Work

Staying local also had its perks when it came to the furniture and the decor. Boudreau’s father constructed the family’s breakfast table and a small side table out of tree trunks and remnants of stone, while the designer herself scoured stores in town for old blankets to turn into throw pillows. It’s small personal details like this that make a getaway house feel like home.