Resurrecting the Desert - Page 3

Staying true to mid-century ethos, remodelers return to 'home bones' for a fresh, new look

Steichen Lewis developed their own look -- with a clean, minimal façade and preserves original shapes and textures. They also incorporate a spare use of dramatic color -- often a rusty orange for the door, an earthy 'hemp' green for trim, and a front door and fencing filled with panels of opaque glass. Natural desert landscaping generally adds to the spare esthetic. "When they come to Palm Springs, a lot of people want to feel like they're in the desert," Lewis says. Steichen Lewis use double-paned glass for insulation, put in pools and fire pits (for cold winter nights), and take out walls and install glass sliders when needed.

O'Donnell, who grew up in "the clean little desert homes from the '50s" in Palm Springs, is imbued with the modern aesthetic. But when he talks architecture, he talks about making it work. Most houses in Palm Springs were built as second homes and not designed for the heat of the summer, so much of a remodeler's work involves updating air conditioning and insulation.

One challenge, O'Donnell says, is to do all of this without spoiling the house's thin, almost weightless profile. "The Alexanders did it elegantly and efficiently," O'Donnell says. "The Eichlers did that. That's what we're struggling to do."

The Kaufmann house restoration helped to spur the Palm Springs' modern revival. Here's Doing It Right.

Photos: Barry Sturgill, Steichen Lewis Designs