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May 31, 2012

A major perk of reporting the story "John Lautner's Desert Rose" for our June 2012 issue? Actually spending a night at the Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California, which has been resurrected and reimagined by the uber-talented designers Tracy Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge. I brought along a camera and snapped some photos while the duo toured me around the four-room inn, which the legendary architect John Lautner designed in 1947 as a model for a master-planned desert community that never came to be. Click through the slideshow to see highlights of a little-known mid-century icon that has been lovingly brought back to life. And if you like what you see and want to hear more about the renovation process, come see Beckmann and Trowbridge talk at Dwell on Design on Sunday, June 24.

Facade of Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California

From the street, 67710 San Antonio Street in Desert Hot Springs, California, doesn't look all that exciting—though the streamlined wooden fence and jet-cut steel signage do give a hint of the modern style inside.

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Exterior of Hotel Lautner with butterfly chairs

On the other side of the fence—built to protect the property from flash floods—is a desert oasis with cactus-lined walkways and patios set with butterfly chairs.

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Hotel Lautner private entrance with redwood fence

Beckmann stands in front of one of the four Lautner-designed units, each of which opens onto the concrete walkway and have a private entrance and private patio (set behind the redwood fence to the left).

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Hotel Lautner bedroom by window

This was my room, Unit 2. It's the only one with the bed pushed up against the window, set on a unique cantilevered bed frame created by Trowbridge, a furniture designer. It took a little while to get used to the lack of curtains; the designers opted to keep the glazed walls open, to maximize guests' experience of Lautner's legendary approach to daylight. The surrounding walls offer plenty of privacy from prying eyes, though, and a provided sleep mask blocks out morning rays.

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Hotel Lautner bedroom with geometric ceiling

This is Unit 4, the only one with a redwood dividing wall between the kitchen and the living room (the rest have open concrete islands).

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Hotel Lautner bedroom

This is Unit 1, the most private of the four units. It's got a cool Milo Baughman sofa, a polished chrome coffee table by J. Wade Beam, a pair of Bertoia barstools, and a Thonet-inspired chair.

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Unit 3 in Hotel Lautner

In Unit 3, the first room to be renovated, Trowbridge demonstrates a James Bond-esque element: a hidden television secreted behind a hinged framed painting.

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Hotel Lautner bathroom with tiled wall

All the bathrooms are tiled with Heath Ceramics seconds in rich hues. Opting for an approach of adaptive reuse over strict preservation, Beckmann and Trowbridge ripped out the dated pedestal sinks and cast-iron tubs and replaced them with modern wall-mounted sinks and spacious walk-in showers.

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Kitchen of Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs

In the kitchens, the pair replaced layers of stucco with smooth concrete and new redwood, and installed sleek metal cabinets from Ikea, which Trowbridge cut to fit the undulating, angular walls.

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Hotel Lautner private patio with lounge chairs

Each unit has its own private patio with lounge chairs and miniature cactus garden.

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The duo installed a small pool in a corner of the property, taking care not to disturb any of the existing architecture. As Beckmann demonstrates, they left space between the original building and the new day-glo yellow walls.

The duo installed a small pool in a corner of the property, taking care not to disturb any of the existing architecture. As Beckmann demonstrates, they left space between the original building and the new day-glo yellow walls.

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Outdoor firepit with built-in benches

Trowbridge leads the way to the geometric fire pit with built-in benches, the ideal spot for an evening cocktail or s'mores roast.

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Facade of Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot Springs, California

From the street, 67710 San Antonio Street in Desert Hot Springs, California, doesn't look all that exciting—though the streamlined wooden fence and jet-cut steel signage do give a hint of the modern style inside.

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