Palm Springs, California, USA
Scope: Renovation, Interiors
Floor Area: 2,300 SF
Site Area: 21,000 SF
Photo: Clive Wilkinson, Saam Gabbay
Architect and client Clive Wilkinson’s relationship with Palm Springs began nearly three decades ago when he started spending occasional weekends there as a retreat from the urban congestion of Los Angeles. Palm Springs was always different: the air clearer and hotter, the nights darker and studded with stars, the pace slower and quieter.
The house, located in Downtown Palm Springs was built in 1954 as a modest home on a double lot of nearly half an acre. The original structure displayed classic desert architectural features: light stucco and wood construction, deep roof overhangs, concrete floor, and steel casement windows, with a white stone roof finish for reflecting sunlight. However, it required a complete renovation and remodel to open up access and views to the backyard.
The renovation gutted and opened up the social spaces of the house, connecting kitchen, dining and living spaces together and opened up south views to the reclusive rear yard and the San Jacinto Mountains. New windows and doors were installed in bronze aluminum with horizontal transoms that echoed a simple rustic cross pattern. A similar approach was taken with forming the new kitchen and pantry in Douglas Fir plywood with a central storage island that includes a breakfast banquette where children can play while parents cook.
The bedrooms and ‘The Casita’ were remodeled with new bathrooms, plywood wardrobes and new exterior double-door connections so all parts of the house would open to the new swimming pool and spa. A large sprawling fig tree dominated the rear yard and the new pool was shaped around its shade canopy, orienting to the south sun and mountain range. The yard surface was embellished with low water desert planting, while olive trees and fan palms form a protected oasis from the outside world.
Through Palm Spring’s hot, dry summers and cool winters, the house has already seen a multitude of uses in accommodating family members and, in addition, serving as a vacation rental retreat for desert visitors. It has been host to celebrations for special occasions, pool parties and hot spa nights, Easter egg hunts, and Moroccan style feasts, including unruly office parties and Wilkinson’s private wedding to his wife Elisabeth.