Travel Photo Credit: Lucas Finlay. Styling by Amanda Ross

Palm Springs—Regal Retreat

Two Vancouver residents transform their Palm Springs getaway into a space that combines Hollywood Regency with mid-century design to create a one-of-a-kind second home.

Hollywood A-listers have made Palm Springs their hideaway home since the 1930s; by the ’50s, Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were all regulars to the desert during an influential time that formed the area’s still very solidly mid-century design aesthetic. So when a Vancouver couple purchased this classic modern home in the central Sunrise neighbourhood, they quite naturally went in for the same Hollywood Regency vibe that defined this city from the 1930s onwards.

Inside the master bedroom the vibe is more playful with a blast of lime green paired with a baroque bold wallpaper.
Inside the master bedroom the vibe is more playful with a blast of lime green paired with a baroque bold wallpaper.

It begins and ends—as all does in Palm Springs—at the pool. A half-dozen loungers paired with an outdoor dining area keep things convivial, but the brilliance of this vacation home’s landscaping, aside from its meticulous lawn and chic concrete stepping blocks, is how it provides so many opportunities to escape: guests can retreat to their own garden nooks even within the elegantly walled property. An old-school shuffleboard court is tucked around one corner (accessible through the sliding glass door of an adjacent casita). Around the front, a private courtyard is surrounded by cinder blocks and lit at night by classic mid-century globe lights. And in yet another side yard, couples can take intimate dips in a secluded hot tub positioned beneath a lemon tree.

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Colour Field | While the house dates from the heyday of mid-century design you won't find a parade of the usual design suspects—no Eames, no Saarinen. Instead the howeowners opted for the more opulent look of Hollywood Regency. The style’s hallmarks—bold colours and strong patterns— are on display in the yellow-walled living room (bottom), and a yellow spare bedroom (top-right). The kitchen (top-left) goes full modern with Starck’s Ghost chairs.
Colour Field | While the house dates from the heyday of mid-century design you won’t find a parade of the usual design suspects—no Eames, no Saarinen. Instead the howeowners opted for the more opulent look of Hollywood Regency. The style’s hallmarks—bold colours and strong patterns— are on display in the yellow-walled living room (bottom), and a yellow spare bedroom (top-right). The kitchen (top-left) goes full modern with Starck’s Ghost chairs.

Perhaps it was that very lemon tree (or one of the thousands of others in Palm Springs) that inspired the palette inside the home. While sandy, neutral walls create a calming backdrop, the home springs to life with big, citrus colours smartly placed throughout. In fact, each of the five bedrooms is made distinct by a signature colour on the bedding: lemon yellow in one, cherry red in the next, lime green in the master. Those bedrooms are tied together, though, by a repeating wallpaper motif—a black and white leaf pattern that’s nearly baroque in its spiralling complexity.

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We’ve seen that wallpaper somewhere before, of course. Designer Kelly Wearstler used exactly this pattern on the walls of the nearby Viceroy Hotel when she redesigned their rooms in a decidedly Hollywood Regency style. Other Viceroy tie-ins include the sweet white greyhound that stands guard on the lemon bedroom’s nightstand and the cheeky addition of a Greco-Roman bust in the master bedroom.

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Irreverent touches of glamour may bring this home to life, but it’s the mid-century underpinning (the original stonework in the fireplace, for example) that gives it substance. Clean lines throughout, plus classic pieces like an Eileen Gray chrome side table or a vintage starburst mirror—even new classics like the Philippe Starck Ghost chairs at the dining table—all keep this home playful, yet grounded in a history of intelligent design.

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At night, of course, this glass-happy home becomes a kind of lantern, sparkling with its interior colours for whomever might be finishing up a whiskey sour by the pool. As dusk descends, judiciously placed spotlights highlight features around the garden, making the home seem both alive and ready to stay awake into the wee hours.

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