Here Are 20 of the Best Midcentury Renovations in Palm Springs
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Here Are 20 of the Best Midcentury Renovations in Palm Springs

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By Kate Reggev
We’ve gathered 20 of our favorite homes that maintain their midcentury flavor without sacrificing 21st-century modernizations and updates.


Initially known for its hot springs, golf courses, spas, and celebrity sightings, Palm Springs today beckons people to the Sonoran Desert with glamorous examples of top-tier midcentury residential design. But in order to keep up with the demands of homeowners and design enthusiasts, much of its housing stock has been updated, renovated, or restored—almost always using materials and designs that preserve these homes' essential character. Take a look below as we tour some of the homes that have done an ideal job balancing the needs of today with the details, materiality, indoor/outdoor living, and aesthetics of midcentury Palm Springs.

1. "The Forgotten Frey" Home Is Meticulously Restored  Down To The Shower Doors

Painted a Brittlebush green—the color of desert flowers—the 1,124-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home sits on an 8.2-acre hillside. Architect Albert Frey, a protégé of Le Corbusier, designed the modest home for a local school superintendent in 1955. The single-story residence is supported by thin steel columns, and it appears to float over the rocky terrain. A spacious 600-square-foot deck is wrapped with bold yellow fiberglass siding. The home recently underwent a total renovation that meticulously restored all of the original building materials to nearly their original condition. This includes the exterior and interior wall panels, fluted fiberglass deck pieces, kitchen appliances, cabinetry, and even the original glass shower door.

Years of regrettable remodels had obscured the Guthrie House’s origins, but Marina and Avalon Rossi uncovered its roots and decided to restore the architect’s vision. After years of research, the Avi Ross Group initiated a 2019 renovation that would bring the house back to Frey’s original design intent and also instill standards of modern living. "We wanted it to look like a house dropped in the middle of the desert, which it was originally," says Avalon Rossi.

Seen today, it’s hard to imagine that Jessy Moss and Steve Jocz’s glistening white home in Indian Wells, California, was marketed as a teardown only two years ago. Sparing it the wrecking ball, Jessy, an interior designer who used to be a singer/songwriter, and Steve, a realtor who was once a member of the band Sum 41, embarked on a restoration. During the project, they uncovered evidence that the home might be an unrecognized work by iconic architect William F. Cody. The circular pavers in the driveway, replicas of originals, are strikingly similar to those Cody used for another midcentury motor court.

The Thunderbird Heights house is set on a plateau above Coachella Valley and backs up to the Santa Rosa mountains to the south and west. The home, originally built in the 1960s and later renovated in the 1980s, was given a fresh, midcentury-inspired revamp by Stuart Silk Architects. 

The former home of interior designer and renowned blogger Sarah Sherman Samuel, this 1961 A-frame in Palm Springs received a thorough renovation and a new lease on life. According to her blog, when Samuel first toured the house she encountered "cloud murals, a scary dungeon-esque bathroom, and stanky old carpet." Much of the 784-square-foot space felt cramped and dated. However, she knew the home had good bones, so she decided to start renovating.

Originally built in 1940, this 3,260-square-foot home has undergone a complete redesign, reimagining the property as a midcentury-inspired, contemporary estate. The renovation of the four-bedroom, five-bath residence also included the addition of an entirely new wing and landscaping including cacti and palm trees . Highlights of the home include an open indoor/outdoor floor plan, a vaulted tongue-and-groove ceiling in the great room, expansive glazing, and gorgeous desert landscaping across the 16,000-square-foot lot. The iconic home also comes with a bit of local history, as it was previously owned by Florian Boyd, the former Mayor of Palm Springs from 1953 to 1957.

Built in 1962, Steel House #4 is one of seven iconic, steel-and-glass prefab homes designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison as part of an affordable solution for the masses. Yet while an entire tract of nearly 40 homes was planned, only seven models were erected before the soaring costs of steel rendered the project impractical. Of the seven, house #4 was restored and renovated by the new owners who sought the input from Wexler himself. With the home boasting Class 1 Historic Site status and a footprint designed by one of the great masters of desert modern architecture, the owners wanted to maintain the integrity of the original design while "[modernizing] the layout to give the rooms the most light and air," they said. James Butchart

Does a home in Palm Springs need to conform to midcentury design? London transplant and homeowner of a renovated midcentury modern house Jade Spalding knew how she felt: "I wanted to stay true to the midcentury modern vibe, of course, but also make it my own. I think sometimes, especially in Palm Springs, people can be a bit serious about midcentury design and so they stick to a very in-the-box approach when renovating. I really wanted to have a bit of fun with it and break a few rules! Who says midcentury can't branch out a bit!?"

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This four-bedroom, three-bath home was built in 1961 and designed by iconic architect Donald Wexler. The modest midcentury home features clean lines, modern updates, and all of its original character and charm. The open-plan living room has a wall of glass sliding doors and clerestory windows that trace the iconic angled roofline, leading out to the patio and pool area beyond.

Built in 1955, the Koerner House was designed by renowned architect E. Stewart Williams, whose distinct midcentury modern style significantly shaped the Coachella Valley’s architectural landscape. Interiors feature Williams’ iconic architectural details, including natural teak wood paneling; built-in cabinetry, credenzas, and vanities; wood ceilings; slump stone walls and fireplace; clerestory windows; board-and-batten redwood siding; and original fixtures. The kitchen has been updated and renovated with modern appliances and stone countertops, but retains its original cabinetry.

Designed in 1966 by modernist architect Howard Lapham, 650 East Tachevah Drive is a sprawling, one-level residence with 10 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and two half-baths located in Palm Springs’ historic Movie Colony neighborhood. The grand residence comes in at just under 10,000 square feet and is also rumored to be the largest midcentury modern home in town. Long and low with classic midcentury lines, the home features capacious rooms, high ceilings, walls of glass, cantilevered roofs, poured terrazzo floors, and brightly colored interiors. While it retains many of its original features, the majority of the windows have been replaced for more energy-efficient models, among other elements that have also been renovated, updated, or replaced.

Originally built in 1957, this home was designed by William Krisel as a long, gabled home with many of Krisel's signature touches, like a rugged facade of desert stone. Recently, the home was renovated with an updated kitchen that remains true to the home’s midcentury character, as do updated bathrooms.

Wexler and Harrison's original plan was to create affordable vacation homes for a growing middle class. When this home first went on the market with the others in 1962, it was competitively priced between $13,000 and $17,000. Today, the kitchen has been restored following guidelines from its original configuration, and the landscaping was updated in 2001 with Wexler's oversight.

In Rancho Mirage, California, a tired 1960s house is completely transformed with new features and materials that blend midcentury charm with contemporary taste. Despite a 1984 remodel, the desert midcentury that a couple recently purchased as their vacation home near Palm Springs had long suffered signs of aging with outdated finishes, deferred maintenance, and ill-proportioned rooms. Eager to breathe new life into the 1960s dwelling, the homeowners looked to Seattle–based Stuart Silk Architects for a gut renovation to bring their holiday home to modern standards.

Originally built in 1962 as one of seven of the iconic Wexler Steel Houses, this home has been renovated so that it has a fully renovated, modern kitchen with a gas range and refrigerated drawers. At the same time, though, it has retained the classic floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, geometric pool, and sun-filled interior.

Pioneering architect William Krisel's Tipper-Grundt Residence is a futuristic formation of five connected pods. The entry showcases the interior pod-like design, hand-forged stone walls, and original white terrazzo and brass inlaid flooring featured throughout the home. The updated, state-of-the-art kitchen and bathrooms have clean, white cabinetry that contrasts with the rough stone of the masonry walls.

This chalet-style, A-frame roof extends straight into the ground. A band of stone wraps around the residence and visually integrates the home with its natural surroundings. Set against a stunning mountain backdrop, the home originally designed in 1958 has been completely reimagined and updated by its current owners. The owners enjoyed the process of renovating the architecturally significant property, which included a fun, tropical-themed wet bar, a stylish and updated kitchen with a waterfall countertop, and a well-concealed Murphy bed in the living room.

Located in the heart of Vista Las Palmas, this home was originally constructed by the acclaimed Alexander Construction Company, who built over 2,200 houses throughout California's Coachella Valley between 1955 and 1965. These homes, collectively called Alexanders, celebrated modernist style and innovative construction geared towards middle-class buyers. This 2,098 square foot home has been updated for modern sensibilities, like a punchy yellow exterior, eye-catching graphic wallpapers on the interiors, and an open kitchen with a generous island.

Like many other "Alexander" homes, this residence in south Palm Springs is one of about 84 homes that was designed by Krisel and Palmer and built by Alexander and Dunas. The midcentury home sits long and wide on its lot, with a standard Alexander curved pool in the backyard and an open carport. This renovated home has been updated with a detached casita, refreshed kitchen that maintains its original intended layout, and redone bathrooms.

Originally constructed in the late 1940s and then remodeled in the 1960s by famed Palm Springs interior designer Arthur Elrod, this residence served as the home of Malcom Clarke, part owner of the Las Vegas Sands hotel. Elrod's thoughtful updates included an enlarged kitchen, a new front entry with breezeblocks, and special details in the bathrooms. In recent years, the homeowners have sought to retain the home's original 1947 and 1961 details while updating its systems and infrastructure, like air conditioning.

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