Gabriela's Eco-Boémio Home in Bahia, Brazil

Gabriela's Eco-Boémio Home in Bahia, Brazil

Nasozi Kakembo
Mar 19, 2015
(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Name: Gabriela Franceschini, Thaïs, 10-years-old, and Samba, the golden retriever
Location: Itacimirim; Bahia, Brazil
Size: 1,400 square feet/130 square meters
Years lived in: 8 years, Owned; Lived in 6 months

Straddled between one of Bahia's most cherished beaches and a forest preserve is where you will find Beija Flor resort subdivision, meaning Hummingbird. Such subdivisions are common in this sun-drenched coastal region of Brazil, but what sets this one entirely apart is architect (and Ayurvedic practitioner) Gabriela (Gabi) Franceschini's streamlined eco-conscious and eco-friendly approach to its design and decor. Comprised of four duplexes, each with two attached residences, Gabi has designed and built this small-scale condo community with acute attention given to everything from the locally-sourced construction materials to the recycled furnishings and accents of her own home here, which she shares with her daughter and a steady flow of friends and family.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Gabi takes advantage of the community's proximity to the beach in the orientation the duplexes. The majority of the windows face east in order to catch the sea breeze, and cross-ventilation is facilitated by their louvered design. This results in a year-round comfortable and cool indoor temperature; even during the hottest months, Gabi's home remains 23 to 25°C (73 to 77°F). (Having spent several nights in Gabi's home, I can attest to this fact.) But in case it's still too hot, there is an inviting pool in the middle of the compound. A generous overhang and the adobe tiled roof further provide shade when and where it is needed, yet the inside of the home is bright enough to render lights unnecessary until evening.

Just beyond the first two duplexes, the pool (if you can stop yourself from jumping in first) and a stretch of banana and palm trees, you reach Gabi's home. Her "entry way" is exactly what you would expect in a Bohemian Brazilian enclave; it is quite literally a veranda functioning as a dining room, children's play area, and chill hammock spot all at once. From here, a wall of double French doors gives way to the indoor living room, easily unifying the spaces and allowing for a seamless transition between them. Inside of Gabi's home, she continues to express her preference for practical and sustainable materials: the bathroom floors are adorned with mosaics that she and her daughter fashioned out of discarded tiles, and in the laundry area, a clothes drying rack also doubles as surfboard storage.

What Gabi's design so cleverly achieves is the balance between indoor and outdoor living. It is in perfect harmony with the natural elements of her surroundings, material- and climate-wise, without sacrificing comfort or beauty. Inspired by lessons learned and accomplishments from Beija Flor, Gabi is currently in the planning stages of a completely self-sufficient small-scale community in Bahia.

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Rustic Sophisticated.

Inspiration: Beautiful beach houses from South of Bahia, natural ventilation is always the priority, mixed with sophisticated modern lighting and spacious white floors from inspired by architecture of Richard Meier. Natural architecture also inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Favorite Element: The furniture for the master bedroom that came from my grandmother's house in São Paulo. The mirror cabinet and drawer cabinet are from there as well.

Biggest Challenge: The built-in living room console, made with recycled wood.

What Friends Say: They call it Gabi's spa, with natural food, good energy, welcome, good music, warm ocean and a warm pool.

Biggest Embarrassment: Some water pipe issues!

Proudest DIY: Open-shelving in the office made from leftover wood from a construction site, and ropes.

Biggest Indulgence: The entire project. I built eight beautiful houses, starting with only enough money to build two, sell one, build two more, sell two and then build the last four units. It has been a 10-year project that has finally concluded beautifully, and my family and I are very happy to live here in this endless summer.

Best Advice: Look for non-industrialized materials and products. I prefer high quality, strong, and easy-to-clean furniture. Since we are close to the beach, metal will rust, but I still avoid plastic or vinyl furnishings and appliances. We furnished the home with mostly recycled wood or used furniture.

Dream Sources: I would love to have more pieces from Asia and Morocco. I am planning to go to Thailand and India next September...

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Resources of Note:


  • I mixed the paint colors on the spot... Brand, Coral Branco Neve
  • Wood stain: Verniz, Imbuia color


  • White Hammock: Sourced while visiting Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brazil
  • Angelim solid wood dining table, bench, and chairs: O Rei dos Moveis Rústicos


  • Pillows: Argentinian artist from La Tepozteca – La vida en cores
  • Rustic cabinet with recycled wood: Dutch artist, Mattijs van Dee
  • Spinnel Lamp made of recycled newspaper
  • Orange and black painting: Peru
  • Purple velvet Sofa came from the south of Brazil
  • Blue Picture behind the sofa: India
  • Maquete of the house (tree house model) made by me and my daughter


  • Black granite São Gabriel, easy to keep clean
  • Lighting under the cabinet that I designed, as well as the spice shelf next to stove


  • Picture from Chileans friend and artist Chile named Jay Jagannath Das
  • Blanket: India
  • Bambu necklace holder (on wall): AfroBambuzeria, Itacaré, Bahia
  • Dresser: Inherited
  • Ceiling mats: Dry palm leaves and Maçaranduba wood beams


  • Mosaic floor: Left over pieces of the construction
  • Wood towel Hooks: Mr. Antonio, from Vale do Capão, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia


  • Surfboard drying rack: Dutch artist, Mattijs van Dee

(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Thanks, Gabriela and Thaïs!

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