Two friends find a second home and business opportunity in a turnkey Palm Springs getaway.
The first post on the @theretropalmsprings Instagram account comprises a series of videos that friends Nathan Wilson and Matt Garbauskas took as they walked through their new home. It’s a single-story Palmer & Krisel design built by the Alexander Construction Company in 1959.
The three-bedroom, two-bath home with a one-bed, one-bath casita makes an incredible first impression—and second and third—with its brilliantly designed interiors that feature a mix of pristine vintage finds and period-accurate selections chosen by the home’s previous owners and now meticulously cared for by Nathan and Matt.
“Finding someplace furnished wasn’t at the top of the list, but when you find someplace as perfectly put together as this one, it’s hard to pass up,” Nathan says. “In many cases, finding a home that’s absolutely turnkey is rare, but this one definitely was.”
Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Nathan and Matt started looking for a home in Palm Springs during the pandemic, aiming to find a warm, sunny retreat in a home with plenty of outdoor space.
“Escaping some of the grayest times of the year to a place with so much sunshine is so nice,” Nathan says of Palm Springs. “Beyond that, it’s just a beautiful, fun, vibrant small city with a ton of amazing art, architecture and restaurants.”
The friends began the search for their Palm Springs home from Washington and were immediately taken with the 1960s and ’70s feel of this particular place.
“It’s interesting: We actually put our first offer on the house without seeing it in person,” Nathan explains. “Thankfully, we had our great realtor and friends in Palm Springs take a tour and show it off over FaceTime to make sure it really was as amazing as the photos—and it was. It was very exciting to finally see it in person and realize it was exactly what we hoped it would be.”
Let it Shine
In decorating the home, the former owners had decided on a look that was more “Valley of the Dolls” than “Rat Pack”; it seemed like a departure from the classic Palm Springs take on mid-century style that Nathan appreciates.
“In my opinion, some of the mid-century homes around Palm Springs can tend to start looking very much alike—the same doors, the same interior layout and often, the same furniture,” he says. “I like that our house is much more unique and allows each room to present a visual feast for the eyes, often in ways our guests don’t expect.”
The main home is decorated in a palette of shimmering metallics and mellow earth tones used in geometric designs on wallpapers, artwork, throw rugs, furnishings and even shower tiles for a hip and elegant effect. The styling for the casita is more electric and psychedelic, welcoming in guests with a shocking-orange wallpaper in the living room.
“Every room has its own unique character, from the wallpaper to the furniture,” Nathan points out. “It’s so fun to walk through the house and enjoy all the different vintage vibes. There are quite a few rare pieces and actual vintage wallpapers you probably won’t see anywhere else.”
One rare piece featured in the casita is the headboard in the bedroom.
“The former owners actually bought it from a vintage shop in Los Angeles,” Nathan says. “The story is that you could custom-order this bed from the Playboy catalog. It was in pretty rough shape but was reupholstered with black Naugahyde vinyl, and the side tables were restored. There’s even a working eight-track player in the headboard.”
Palm Springs Getaway, Personality Plus
While the home was in move-in condition when they purchased it, Nathan and Matt have added some of their own touches since taking ownership last year. However, they are careful to uphold the former owners’ aesthetic.
“The furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, but all have a similar stylistic feel,” Nathan explains. “It’s important that any additional pieces we bring into the home fit into that mix. For example, when looking for additional seating in the casita’s living room, we opted for a Pierre Paulin chair that was originally designed for the airport waiting area for the French Concorde flights in the 1960s.”
Because the home isn’t their primary residence, Nathan and Matt don’t mind taking styling cues from someone else.
“I think when you’re shopping for a second home, it’s a little less important to make sure that every inch reflects your personality. Sure, it should be functional and meet all your needs, but the second home also gives you the chance to have a little more fun and try a different vibe that feels like more of a getaway spot,” Nathan says.
The friends, who list the home as a short-term rental when they’re not using it, have plans to mimic this home’s vibes in future investment properties.
“While I love the house, it has such a unique and vibrant look that it’s become a very attractive rental property,” Nathan says. “Groups looking to have a fun, Palm Springs ‘retro’ experience have been keeping it booked up over the last several months, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t taken advantage of staying there ourselves for periods of time. Owning this house has definitely made us start looking at other homes in the area that we can design in a similar way.”
There are more than 300 listings on short-term rental sites of homes that are available for vacationers looking for a Palm Springs getaway. Nathan Wilson and Matt Garbauska’s home is one of those properties.
“The home is built for entertaining; and, without us living there full-time, it would feel terrible to leave such a work of art just sitting there with no one to appreciate it,” Nathan says. “I think it’s the kind of house that just makes sense to rent out.”
For any homeowner, welcoming guests can be a stressful proposition. But, if those guests are strangers—and the house is a mid-century showplace with many vintage and one-of-a-kind elements—that’s something else entirely.
Nathan and Matt are happy to share their meticulously styled mid-century gem … as long as guests follow the rules. They have found ways to address those concerns (such as strict no-smoking, no-pets and no-parties policies) when welcoming guests.
“Of course, there are concerns about potential damage to the vintage furniture and wallpaper, but we’ve been very fortunate that all our guests have appreciated the unique design and have been very respectful not to damage anything,” Nathan says. “When it comes to rentals, I’d encourage other mid-century homeowners to do what makes them most comfortable. Palm Springs is an amazing place to visit, and I’m thrilled to get to share the city with new people from around the country through our home.”
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