New Yorkers Philip Heckman and Rex Bonomelli were in Palm Springs for the 2015 Modernism Week. While on a home tour, they discovered El Rancho Vista Estates. It was a neighborhood Wexler and Harrison designed and Roy Fey developed in the early 1960s. A Donald Wexler home in the development was for sale, and it would soon be theirs.
“We were drawn to the potential of this home, because of the huge, empty backyard with mountain views,” says Philip. “It was essentially a blank canvas with the exception of the original kidney-shaped swimming pool with original coping. Also, the Capri model was our favorite layout after seeing the other models during the tour.”
The three-bedroom, two-bath home features an open layout and plenty of outdoor spaces where Philip and Rex can flex their design skills. It showcases their growing collection of vintage pieces and celebrates the things they love most about the mid century aesthetic.
“As a costume designer, the futuristic Space Age 1960s fashions of Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne and André Courrèges have always inspired me,” Philip says. Form, function and style perfectly describe our Donald Wexler home. They are the three concepts I keep in mind when choosing pieces for the house.”
Patience Is a Virtue
The couple, who use the home to get a break from the snowy New York winters, followed the wise advice to take their time in selecting pieces for the space. It’s important not to furnish the whole thing at once—advice they pass on to other mid century home homeowners.
“We ate meals at a folding table for a long time until we found our Tulip table and chairs,” Rex says. “We collected our Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set piece by piece from different states on eBay. Our walls were mostly bare for years because we really wanted to wait to find the right artwork. It wasn’t until we stumbled on a Charles Levier painting in a vintage store two years ago that we knew what we wanted on the walls.”
A Creative Palette
They took that same care and patience in selecting the fabrics that would establish the color palette for their Donald Wexler home. And with two designers in the family, they easily found creative and inventive solutions to issues as they arose. For instance, the 1960s fabric they wanted to use for their outdoor furnishings posed a problem.
“The print was a mod geometric design in yellow, orange and green,” Philip says. “These colors started to become the anchor for our accent colors inside the home. Ultimately, that fabric inspired the restoration of our Homecrest patio furniture. We had a gut feeling that the vintage fabric would not withstand the summer sun, so Rex recreated the print in Illustrator. We then printed the new-and-improved mod geometric design on an appropriate outdoor fabric.”
That yellow, orange and green in the vintage fabric, and a complementary blue, are now found throughout the home. The paint on the front door, the furnishings on the guest patio and the Cathrineholm enamelware in the kitchen and living room complement one another. All the aspects flow together beautifully to create a vibrant Mid Century Modern showplace that’s also inviting and livable.
Want to learn more about this iconic mid century architect? Brush up on Donald Wexler’s architectural history.
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