Almost every endeavor could benefit from a little re-analysis and retooling. In the case of one spectacular home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a natural disaster provided a unique opportunity to polish what was already a breathtaking residence into something truly sublime.
From 2005 through 2009, Costa Mesa, CAbased integration firm Fulkra worked with renowned Los Angeles architect Robert Sinclair to build a dream home for a client on a piece of land situated atop a hill overlooking the Gulf of California in Cabo San Lucas. But just five years after its completion, in in September 2014, Category 4 Hurricane Odile smashed into the Baja California peninsula, all but destroying the home.
The pool is the crown jewel of the home, complete with a “sunken living room,” swimming lane, a swim-up bar, built-in lounge chairs, recessed tables to put drinks on, and now, a nightclub-worthy sound system.
“It destroyed all of the hurricane shutters, it ripped all of the doors and windows out of the concrete jambs, and completely destroyed most of the house,” recalled Martin Seelos, partner at Fulkra. “There were just a few areas that weren’t damaged.”
Immediately after the storm passed, Fulkra, which has an office in Cabo San Lucas, was dispatched to the property to secure it against the widespread looting that was taking place. Seelos, who couldn’t get to the scene until more than a month after the storm due to the closure of the airport there, was stunned by the devastation when he arrived. “When you were there, it was jaw dropping; it was unbelievable the amount of damage that was done,” he said.
Almost immediately after the property was cleaned up and all the damage documented, the Fulkra team began getting things back to how they were–and then some. “We got to take this amazing project four years later and completely redo the whole thing,” Seelos said. “We’ve never had an opportunity like that before.”
Fulkra upgraded the sound system of the living room with Sunfire in-wall subwoofers behind the room’s paintings, and two massive JBL studio monitors in the ceiling.
And because the owner had almost five years of experience with using the home’s entertainment amenities, he had plenty of feedback on things to overhaul. “We sat with the owner and he said, ‘I want better sound out of the pool bar and the pool TV, and I want a bigger TV out there, and I want subwoofers, and I want it louder.’”
So the Fulkra team went to work making the home’s crown jewel–its luxurious 2,200-square-foot swimming pool–even more astounding than before. According to the Seelos, the homeowner wanted the pool’s entertainment amenities to rival those of the most energetic nightclubs. “This client is 75 years old, but he is still very much a teenager,” he said. “He lives a 20-something-year-old lifestyle.”
The pool itself, which features what Seelos referred to as a “sunken living room,” as well as a swimming lane, a swim-up bar, built-in lounge chairs, recessed tables to put drinks on, and more, remained intact from the original construction. But the owner wanted a more powerful sound system to take the large parties he hosts over the top.
The Fulkra team added 13 8-inch Sonance speakers, four 8-inch rock speakers, a pair of inwall speakers, and custom-built two 12-inch dual subwoofers that are ported though the side of the outdoor barbecue. All of these speakers are driven by two new 2,000-watt Crown amplifiers. “We get complaints two miles away from the Palmilla Resort,” Seelos said. “It is so loud, and he’s out in the pool just yelling ‘Turn it up!’”
On the patio by the pool is another custom solution designed by Fulkra to provide the homeowner with a unique TV viewing experience. “In 2009, house is finished, and he’s sitting out at the pool, looking off a cliff with a 100-foot drop off, and he says ‘I want a TV to come up off the side of that cliff,’” recalled Seelos. “And we look at him like he’s absolutely crazy and [assume that] he’s joking. And he says ‘No, make me a TV to come the side of the cliff.’” At the time of the original construction, there were no outdoor, weatherproof motorized lifts, so the team had to custom engineer one. During the reconstruction of the home, they upgraded the screen to a much larger 65-inch SunBrite model.
Fulkra also upgraded the televisions throughout the home’s interior with the latest models from Samsung, and replaced the display in the theater– one part of the home that was well protected from the storm, Seelos said–with a new 98-inch Planar model. The team also added some hidden sound reinforcement to the circular atrium of the home’s living room. “That has two huge studio monitors–they’re humongous; these speakers are just gigantic,” he said. “And behind each painting are two 10-inch Sunfire SubRosa in-wall subwoofers.”
The patio features a custom-engineered, all-weather mount that raises a 65-inch SunBrite TV up from behind the cliff.
To ensure that the estate is safeguarded against future threats–from both man and nature–Fulkra implemented some new security measures. First, they fitted a new hurricane shutter system. “It was very time consuming to install, but it’s category-5 rated,” Seelos said. “They say this was a hundred-year storm that hit Cabo, but the new hurricane shutters are an aluminum corrugated construction that actually bolt to the house–bolt to the floor, bolt to the headers–so there won’t be an issue with future storms.” They also upgraded the home’s security camera network with nine new Axis brand 5-megapixel cameras with infrared illumination.
Of course, all of the new equipment and amenities be worth little if they weren’t easy to operate. During the redesign, the Fulkra team decided to tie the home together with a Savant control system, and the owner has been delighted with its intuitiveness, according to Seelos. “There are 250 lighting zones, 15 rooms with motorized shades, obviously all of the audio, the video, the pool controls; there are six fire features in the home that are all automated in the Savant system,” he said.
The home’s 250 lighting zones, 15 rooms with motorized shades, 10 fire features and countless audio and video amenities are all controllable via its Savant system.
Seelos thinks that the Savant app has the ability to penetrate a person’s psyche. “It’s not intimidating; when they open up the app and see a picture of their pool, they just touch the picture. They immediately relate to the system and the options by seeing that picture and the functionality, and it eliminates the learning curve,” an aspect that he said has the homeowner commanding all aspects of his home without fear of messing things up.
Second chances don’t come along every day, and when they do, it’s crucial to make the most of them. “As you do a project and things change, and things are added, you can always do things better,” Seelos said. “That’s my philosophy: things can always be improved upon.” After the latest upgrades to this Cabo home, though, it seems that opportunity for improvement has been maximized.
Matt Pruznick is associate editor for Residential Systems and Systems Contractor News. Follow him on Twitter @Pruznick.