Escape To Actor David Cubitt’s Exotic Mexico Vacation Home
When Canadian actor David Cubitt, known for TV action dramas like Van Helsing and big-budget features like the 2016 Naomi Watts thriller Shut In, needs to step off the red carpet, he and wife Julia Molnar head to picturesque San Miguel de Allende, a four-hour drive northwest of Mexico City. “San Miguel is a UNESCO heritage site, so they can’t put in any modern fire hydrants or traffic lights or neon,” David explains. “It looks like it did 500 years ago: breathtakingly beautiful.”
Their 3,000-square-foot home, Casa Arabella (named after their only daughter of six children), is one of San Miguel’s rare, contemporary 1980s houses, built high up on a rock. Designed by Patricia Larsen, owner of gallery and shop Pilar Studio in San Miguel, the villa has a muted palette and natural textures that provide a tranquil retreat from the lively arts scene outside. Escape to the exotic oasis with our virtual tour below.
David and Julia are inspired by the lively arts scene that surrounds Casa Arabella. “There’s always a celebration going on here,” David marvels. “Competing mariachi bands play in the square, horses parade through town from the nearby countryside. San Miguel doesn’t have the ocean, but it has other things to offer. It’s all about art, food, families and weddings in the big cathedrals, with everyone dancing in the streets and joining the party.”
Inside in the living room, a supersized sofa is big enough to accommodate all six kids and two dogs. Woven chairs combine traditional Mexican materials with contemporary lines.
The living room’s original iron-framed windows and doors were left unpainted. “I love how they let in so much light,” says Julia. “The evening light turns everything gold. We never have to use lightbulbs — just candles — it’s so pretty.”
In the dining room, the glow of the bird’s-nest chandelier made by Patricia is reflected in an acid-washed mirror inset into the wall, which David likens to an art piece. The tops of the dining table and wide bench were made from repurposed doors found locally. The original puny, stepped fireplace had no presence, so Patricia had the wall in the dining area rebuilt to incorporate a larger fireplace.
Patricia played up the Cantera stone floors with floating concrete shelves. She replaced a bulky island with an old table, and hung a copper light fixture, made locally, overhead. “You can manifest any idea here; there’s always a metalworker or a weaver, or stone mason to help. It’s an artist’s heaven,” Patricia says.
Dishware by local artisans is displayed on the kitchen’s open shelving.
In the principal bedroom, a kitschy vintage tapestry depicting swans adds personality and pattern to the neutral linens. Patricia impulsively adds garden vines or Christmas lights to the chandelier she made, depending on the season.
A glass jug of white tiger lilies dresses up the desk in the principal bedroom. Waterfall drapes, made from layers of cotton, filter the light.
The spire of the famous Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is visible from the terrace. Patricia stacked two wooden pallets to create an impromptu coffee table, and added Acapulco chairs and poufs in natural woven fibres to establish a laid-back vibe.
A row of petite lanterns and a pillow accent a cozy seating nook on the terrace.
San Miguel is famed for its Spanish Colonial architecture and jacaranda trees (foreground), which bloom bright purple in spring and give the terrace view an otherworldly quality.