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Room Anatomy: Marcelina’s Corner in the Forest

Tea & tales inside the living room of Marcelina Restrepo

Down a quiet street in Polanco, Mexico, hidden among big leaves and protected by the neighbor’s huffy Schnauzers lives lovely Marcelina Restrepo. As an art director and designer, Marcelina splits her time between two of the busiest cities in the world, Mexico and New York, so it’s no wonder she’s made her home a quiet sanctuary, filled with delicate bits and pieces. Over tea, we got nosy and asked Marcelina these questions:

We love, love, LOVE this living room. How long have you been living in this apartment?
In Mexico, about a year and a half. In New York, 17 years.

How would you describe you and your husband’s approach to decorating?
Vintage mid-century modern and heritage pieces living aside found objects, with nods to nature, and with a handcrafted touch.

What is the most prized possession in this room and why?
Hmmm.. Besides our little León (our 9 month old not depicted in the picture!), I would say it’s my grandmother’s Murano dish which was always holding a giant bird of paradise as a centerpiece at my dad’s dining table at our family home La Candelaria, in el Retiro, Colombia. My husband, however, would say it’s a tie between his plants and his rock collection.

What is your fondest memory from this space?
That would be the first time I entered the apartment. It was for my friend Mateo’s birthday on the Day of the Dead. It was the first night I met Gabriel who was already living here. My two girlfriends Andrea and Elisa from Dieppa Restrepo, who are responsible for bringing me to DF, walked into the party and pretended I was already living there, teasing me, “Oh, your place is so nice!” Little did we know…

Top three things you miss from New York:
1. Walking the streets
2. These days as a mama, I have to say it’s deliveries: good Japanese and Thai food, Seamless, Diapers.com, Amazon, Max Delivery e.t.c
3. The classic downtown restaurants: Balthazar, Omen, Il Buco, and Indochine

Favorite place in Mexico City:
Our home, which is in a place called Rincon del Bosque (corner of the forest)

Favorite taqueria in Mexico City:
Tizoncito in Condesa

Favorite place for elotes and esquites in Mexico City:
A stand outside the Superama supermarket in Condesa on Amsterdam

Favorite store in Mexico City:
The handcraft market Mercado de La Ciudadela, the flower market Mercado de Jamaica, and the bimonthly weekend bazaar Lonja Mercantil.

OK, now we’re going to dissect the bits and pieces of your living room. What’s the story behind the starfish and seashells on the marble table by the window:
The sea shells were collected from different Mexican beaches in the Pacific and the starfish Gabriel bought for me at the Mercado Central in Santiago de Chile.

And the small elephant China bowl on the living room table:
Bought at a marketplace in Nairobi on the way back from doing a photo shoot in Lamu with our friends from SUNO.

The Dr. Atl book?
The book was a birthday present to Gabriel from Alex, my brother-in-law. We had told him how inspiring a Dr. Atl exhibition had been at the modernist building which was once the ministry of foreign relations in Tlatelolco, a housing complex built around one of the first colonial churches which used rocks from the Aztec market it sits atop. This is an amazing place called the Plaza of the Three Cultures, hence the name. Dr. Atl is a painter from the early to mid-twentieth century who painted landscapes, especially Mexico’s volcanoes and volcanic axis, which Gabriel loves to hike and collect rocks from.

And the little iron mask sitting atop?
It was bought at the Market of San Angel, a flea market in the neighborhood with the same name after a fantastic Sunday lunch and the best margaritas at San Angel Inn.

The two vases in front of the fireplace:
We bought those on a market plaza in a little town in Michoacan State (which is known for its pottery work) called Patzcuaro while we were visiting for the Day of the Day holiday celebrations. Patzcuaro is a hilly colonial magical town next to a lake with small island villages. During the night on the Dead, crowds head by boat to the cemeteries on these small islands to visit and celebrate by the elaborate altars made by the indigenous communities to honor their dead. The lake is very foggy making the boats get lost in the mist, and the quiet celebration goes on through the night.

We’ll quit prying after this question, we promise. Is that a compass on the table over there?
Yes, we bought in a small flea market in Monasteraki, under the Acropolis in Athens, while visiting my aunt and dear friend Valentina. I then gave it to Gabriel as a present when I arrived with Gato, my cat, on my trial move to Mexico.

Photography by Ana Lorenzana

Stunning, right? We have more from Marcelina so stay tuned. Did we miss anything? Want to know more? E-mail us pippa@sousstyle.com and gillian@sousstyle.com