Inside A 1960s Desert Modern Home All About Fun

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mid-century modern neutral entry gates

For a Rancho Mirage home, architect Stuart Silk drew inspiration for the entry gates--executed by Jaeger Metal Fab & Concept--from those that flanked the front door of the former Desi Arnaz-Lucille Ball house nearby.

mid-century modern exterior outdoor sitting...

Builder Nate Van Malsen installed Arcadia windows and doors, from Indian Wells Glass and Mirror, throughout the home, opening it to the outdoors. Rather than the plain aluminum common to vintage desert modern homes, however, the design team used a bronze finish on the metal that satisfied the wife's desire for warmth in the material palette.

mid-century modern living room floral...

The living room exudes a 1960s "granny-chic," notes designer Joelle C. Nesen. It showcases two Jan Showers armchairs in a Jim Thompson Fabrics floral, a sofa that's a riff on William Haines and Edward Wormley designs and covered in a Kravet wool blend, and vintage pieces--a coffee table from 1stdibs and a teak side table from Look Modern in Portland. The carpet is a custom design through Kush Rugs in Portland.

mid-century modern yellow kitchen and...

Bright Popham Design tiles enliven a wall in the kitchen. Under a vintage Murano glass chandelier from Salvatore Ferrante in York, Pennsylvania, is a custom table surrounded by chairs from Design Within Reach. Stools from Lawson-Fenning pull up to the island, and behind is a Wolf range and a Vent- A-Hood hood liner.

mid-century modern kitchen potted succulents

Potted succulents in the kitchen top a Pental Surfaces quartz slab counter from De Jager's. Adonai Concepts & Design fabricated the custom cabinetry.

mid-century modern neutral den vintage...

Nesen paired the clients' existing Jonathan Adler sofa and chair in the den with a vintage coffee table from 1stdibs and a leather chair from Dwell Studio; beneath the arrangement is a Stark carpet. A work by Portland artist Whitney Nye behind the sofa is flanked by Mr. Brown London sconces.

mid-century modern outdoor sitting area...

Landscape architect Anne Attinger crafted a series of compelling features across the home's grounds, including a raised entry planting area facing the breakfast patio. The focal point is a transplanted Mediterranean fan palm that came with the property. The dining table and chairs and the sofa on the adjacent patio are all from Janus et Cie.

mid-century modern outdoor pool and...

Team Pool Construction created the pool and spa in simple forms that harken back to midcentury designs. The area, which has a backdrop of existing mature olive trees, is removed from the house and accessed via flagstones. "It became a destination, a place to leave behind any other worries and just enjoy the outdoors," says Attinger.

mid-century modern white bed lime...

An airy guest room has its own midcentury flair. Nesen topped the custom, Brutalist-style bedside table with a vintage Murano lamp. Completing the look is a lush shag carpet by Carter International.

mid-century modern neutral bathroom white...

Silk designed the custom slab vanity and mirror in the powder room; the latter reflects a skylight overhead. Adding interest to the space are paintings by Whitney Nye and a stool from Teak Warehouse.

mid-century modern bathroom pendants white...

The design and color of the powder room's vintage Italian glass teardrop pendants evoke a 1960s feel; the distinctive wall tile is by Heath Ceramics.

mid-century modern white bedroom white...

In the master bedroom, a Global Views settee covered in Schumacher fabric sits at the foot of the bed. The chair by the windows is from ABC Carpet & Home in New York; the hanging pendant is from Design Within Reach.

mid-century modern bathroom yellow/green mosaic...

he master bath showcases a custom vanity with Kohler sinks from Ferguson set into Pental Surfaces quartz countertops; it floats above terrazzo floors fabricated by Architectural Concrete Innovations. The shower wall is composed of Bisazza glass mosaic tile, and the vintage-style sconces are from Visual Comfort & Co.

Inspired by the geometry of the decorative metal panels on the former Desi Arnaz-Lucille Ball house nearby, architect Stuart Silk designed entry gates and an interior room screen for his clients’ Rancho Mirage, California, vacation home.

At a deeper level, though, the actors’ comedic personas also inform this young couple’s residence, which refuses to take its 1960s desert modern demeanor too seriously.

“They kept telling us this was their vacation house, so they wanted it to be fun, with a lot of whimsy,” recalls Silk’s project manager David Marchetti of their young clients.

A spin on period materials like white brick, terrazzo and bronze framing give the dwelling a contemporary look, while interiors mix vintage furniture with more modern pieces that hark to the era of “Mad Men.” Custom creations, such as the living room sofa, are inspired by iconic designers of the day (in this case William Haines).

“The architectural envelope is basically clean and modern, but the interiors are 1960s ‘granny-chic,’ where you laid one pattern over another and it was playful and colorful,” Portland-based interior designer Joelle Nesen says.

The landscape nods to Palm Springs’ history as a fun locale with roots in the historical modern design movement. Guests are greeted with patios, a pool, small citrus groves and multiple gardens that provide pops of green in a minimalist manner.

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