Palm Springs’ signature aesthetic gets an update that is ahead of its time.
“It’s got a vast landscape that takes you on a journey.”
Palm Springs Modernism Week is known for celebrating homes that could be sets for Mad Men. However, this Mesa Modern project offered a timely twist: “more of a modernist approach, not necessarily the typical midcentury approach that Palm Springs embraces,” says designer Michelle Boudreau, whom producer Karen Okner brought on board to shape the look. “It is more of a Mediterranean modernist architectural project—a really clean architectural palette.”
“It’s got a vast landscape that takes you on a journey,” says Boudreau, who brought that energy inside. “I wanted the interior to be curated with custom details, shapes and textures that were inspired by the mountains directly behind and the unique graphic shadows of the desert plants.”
Also on board was Ferguson lighting specialist Stefanie Stroud, who says Mesa Modern showcases “all three categories of what we can provide: appliances, plumbing, and lighting.” She saw it as a chance to use “contemporary pieces that have a nod to midcentury design.”
Stroud loves Boudreau’s process. “She gives me an in-depth vision board,” says Stroud. “Then we kind of jump in and say, ‘Okay, we think this would work best’ or ‘this would really pop here.’”
With a 24,000-square-foot lot and a 3,200-square-foot home, there was plenty to make pop. “This is a completely open plan,” Boudreau says of the main space. “In this great room, we had to incorporate a kitchen, a dining area, as well as a lounge area.”
“The kitchen was pushed to one side, so we could use the wall for the cabinetry,” explains Boudreau. “A divider with a massive, lengthy island is all done in a strong, edgy black.” Here, she added more nods to the outdoors: “With the metals and finishes, especially with the Ferguson elements,” says Boudreau, “that was my bringing in sunshine.”
Stroud raves about appliances, such as the kitchen’s high-tech oven. “We did the Noir, which are JennAir’s more contemporary products. On the oven, there’s a colorful screen. You can go in there and say, ‘I want to make a pot roast tonight,’ and you click it: it’s going to help you with how much time.” Other JennAir surprises? “The fridge had a jet-black interior,” she says. “You don’t see that very often.”
On the opposite side of the dining space, a lounge is arrayed around a fireplace framed in bolder black. “The dimensional tile is a nod to the shape of the mountains and it catches a beautiful light from outside, looking different every single moment of the day,” says Boudreau. The artwork is by Chip Tom via Heather James Fine Art. Boudreau placed pieces by Tom in the bedroom and bathroom, as well.
The team also worked to make sure outside areas balanced desert-friendly plants and people-pleasing perches. “We wanted to create spaces of discovery throughout the property,” says Boudreau. “We have a great lounge just outside. Then, off the poolside, there’s a little private dining and bar area. You can even journey to the front, and there’s a nice firepit there.”
When its time to put out the firepit, one can retire to a bedroom that reflects the desert’s colors as night descends. “That is a custom wallpaper,” says Boudreau. “We worked together with Black Crow Studio to imagine this really beautiful, soft, delicate, darker color for this room.” Andreea Avram Rusu, of Avram Rusu Studio, also offered more custom lighting: a pair of pendants and a chandelier. “It couldn’t be dropped too low, but we could spread it across the ceiling with discs of glass that Andreea had blown to reflect the colors of the wallpaper.”
Stroud points out more subtle illumination at work in the bathroom. “Where you need workhorse light to come in, you’ll actually see—it’s hard to notice—but these linear, recessed LED strips in the showers,” she says. This leaves the eye free to focus on fixtures and sconces from Ferguson flanking a beautiful black tub, and an eye-catching chair by Amorph. “And there’s plumbing that we did throughout the houses from Brizo in beautiful, luxe gold.” She declares the home’s profusion of black and gold is “definitely on trend.”
Eventually, the team bid farewell to the desert sunset. “I could go on and on about Mesa Modern,” reflects Boudreaux. “I enjoy trying to do something different for every project,” she adds, “to tell the story in a different way.”
“It was so nice to do the future of a midcentury modern home in Palm Springs,” Stroud shares. “Yes, the classics are stunning, and they always will be. But to take elements of that and create a new home,” she says, “I honestly thought that this is the type of home you might see in LA.”
“The dimensional tile is a nod to the shape of the mountains and it catches a beautiful light from outside.”