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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each unit has its own private patio with lounge chairs and miniature cactus garden.
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.
Trowbridge leads the way to the geometric fire pit with built-in benches, the ideal spot for an evening cocktail or s'mores roast.