I met Eileen and Phil Gregory, the owners of La Villa del Valle, when I lived in Tijuana. Yes, wonderful things can happen in Tijuana! I used to be a florist down there and my friend Alejandra Cuentas, a talented landscape designer, insisted that I would love them and their place.

Well, I must say that it was indeed love at first sight. I have always been an admirer of people who are different or who do things differently. After all, Eileen and Phil after retiring from a busy LA life decided to start a new busy life in the Valle de Guadalupe… how crazy and amazing!

What I love the most about the Villa and their owners is their eclectic nature! Phil is painter and a wine maker. Eileen is a businesswoman with visions who will pull off a belly dancing show at her 60th birthday, and truly the sweetest soul! I want to be her when I grow older.

The Villa too is eclectic. Every corner has a treasure that they found somewhere on this planet. No definite style but rather a mix of styles—countryside, boho, antique, folk, raw—but above all, this house breathes their soul. I think that in design that is probably what I like most, those special touches that make a place so unique or personal.

I have worked at La Villa del Valle in the heat, the wind, the blasting sun; I have breastfed my son during wedding installations; I have worked at dawn, at night and there is something about that place… Maybe it’s when you get to stop for a moment and listen to the silence that its magic reveals…

Eileen was my ever first client! Thank you, Eileen, for making me believe that any of the things I made could sell!
When she and Diego Baquedano opened the Corazon de Tierra they honored me again by commissioning me to make the chairs people would sit on while tasting wine and eating delicious foods! (Because the food is to die for.)

The restaurant is made out of reclaimed wood and was designed by Claudia Turrent with heavy glass doors that open on the organic vegetable garden. In a place where traditional Mexican cuisine meets modern, my ethnic/boho/eclectic chairs tie in perfectly and all together composes a hymn to Central American culture.

It has been such an honor to be part of their adventure and seeing those places grow, be part of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America, and receive many other awards just reminds me that doing what you love, be true to yourself and working hard can take you a long way!

And if you ever need a break form busy California, go feel the magic there!

Corazon De Tierra Gallery

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Merijam Roelofs is the founder and creator of Folk Project. She finds inspiration in the material culture of people still living in a traditional way. Her work focuses on ancient textiles, like “boutis” from Provence, as well as recycled fabrics.