I used to own a home that I liked to decorate. Well I guess I technically do still own a home – hi my renters! – but I’m no longer responsible for what goes on the walls or on the bookcases there. And here in our rental in Playa besides a few photos of the friends and family the rest of the home furnishings and decorations are all courtesy of our landlords. I used to like looking for ways to make our home more comfortable or for some great art to put on our walls but for the most part I’ve been pretty happy to be free of that responsibility. And then we went to Valladolid. More specifically we went to a place called Casa de los Venados in Valladolid and everything I thought I knew about home furnishings and decor went out the window.
Casa de los Venados is a private home owned by a very nice couple named John and Dorianne who are originally from Chicago but now reside in Mexico full-time. Every single day at 10 a.m. people ring the doorbell and they open up their private home and show these strangers around.
If you rang our doorbell at 10 a.m. in the morning you’d get two scruffy looking people, possibly still in their pajamas, and not too pleasant. And we’re most definitely not going to give you a tour of our apartment. But John and Dorianne? Well they’re friendly, welcoming, had regular clothes on. And? And they let anybody that shows up at their door in for a tour. Anybody. I mean they let us in and as I mentioned, we can look a little scruffy at 10 a.m.
So why are people pestering them everyday for a tour? First off, their home itself is a work of art. They bought the traditional hacienda style building in 2000 and spent years remodeling and restoring it from the ground up. Seriously, I saw pictures of the before and after and the difference is amazing. What they ended up with is an architecturally amazing property.
But the real reason people stop by everyday is to see their art collection. John and Dorianne own more than 3,000 pieces making it the largest museum quality collection of privately owned Mexican folk art. And the wonderful thing about their art collection is that it is put to use in every single nook and cranny of their house. It’s not behind glass or a rope, it’s just how they’ve chosen to decorate their home. And the way they have decorated their home with this valuable art is wild and wacky and absolutely wonderful. You do not have to be art aficionado or collector to appreciate and be in awe of what they have done. Every time we rounded a corner or entered another room our jaws would drop.
There are a gazillion more photos I could have posted here, like I said everywhere we looked there was something else to see and we were encouraged to take as many pictures as we wanted (oh did we ever take them up on that offer). Here’s the kicker. John and Dorianne don’t charge an entry fee for people to come and wander through their home. They don’t open their home to help them make money to buy more art. All they ask for is a donation at the end of each tour, $60 pesos or about $5 which they turn around and donate to local charities. This isn’t a moneymaking enterprise for them, it’s truly a labor of love. They love collecting art and they love sharing that art with other people. They consider themselves “custodians” of this collection and have declared that in the long run the art will be endowed to a private foundation which will continue to show the home each day. So whether you’re in Valladolid tomorrow, next week or next year make sure to stop by, ring the bell at Casa de los Venados and check it out. I’m pretty sure they’re not done collecting so who know what you might see next.
Tours at Casa de los Venados are given everyday at 10 a.m. in Spanish and English, no reservations are required. Donations of $60 MS/$5 U.S. are requested.