50’s Facelift

The Story Behind the Pictures


Every inch of this 8,000 foot house was in dire need of renovation. But rather than tear down and build new, as most do in this exclusive desert community, the clients decided to revive their 50’s ranch style home by giving it a facelift to bring it into the new century. Beginning with the kitchen, they never imagined that it would take almost three years to work their way through the public spaces to the eight bedrooms and nine bathrooms. For them, the process of cleaning up, clearing out, and renovating was as significant as the aesthetic changes that were made.

Sitting on five acres, with Mummy Mountain in the backyard, our aim was to make the boxy, low ceiling rooms architecturally interesting as well as open them up to the view without altering the structure itself. Being unable to raise ceilings or add on was a major challenge that we met by designing a variety of built-in cabinets, compelling lighting features, and visually provocative surface materials that give the spaces structure and impact.

Transforming the entry with an artistic fountain, we set the stage for a theme used throughout the home: bursts of color set against a backdrop of neutral grays and taupe’s. Commissioned art is everywhere, leading you through the sprawling home from one dramatic space to the next. Hand crafted mosaic tiles, bold glass fixtures, tone on tone wall finishes, and geometric patterned rugs set off the dozens of wood and metal finishes used in the furnishings and fixtures. Blues, warm greys and blacks dominate, enhanced with vivid reds, plums, and greens. The long cave-like hallway, reminiscent of a bowling alley, now serves as a dramatic transition between the guest and public wings as well as a showcase for family photographs and art.

This project is an extraordinary example of preservation in an era of tear-it-down mentality.