Like much of America, Palm Springs experienced rapid growth during the post-WWII era, with suburban subdivisions popping up like wildflowers across the desert landscape. The once-sleepy town became a regular stomping ground for Las Vegas high rollers and Hollywood moguls looking to get away from the big-city lights and enjoy a more serene lifestyle. Such was also the modern-day case with Chris Bond, who, after building a thriving career as a visual effects supervisor in the film industry, longed for a home in Palm Springs as a place to decompress.
His search eventually led to a 1958 house with a butterfly roofline, nestled in the city’s historic Twin Palms neighborhood. Although awkwardly remodeled and more than a little run down, the Modernist house fit his vision, and he purchased the property in 2008. When his new bride Merah moved in the following year, Chris had already completed the structural renovations, much to her delight.
“His intention was to take the house back to what it originally should be, but update it to make it more comfortable for modern times,” says Merah. Designed by William Krisel A.I.A., the house was built by the Alexander Construction Company as the second phase of a tract housing subdivision once known as the El Camino Estates. The previous owners added two rooms off the kitchen, which Chris promptly tore down to restore the home’s original 40’x40’ footprint. He also removed an interior wall separating the kitchen and dining room to create an open living space.
Other renovations included stripping the linoleum tile to reveal the concrete slab underneath, and updating the bathrooms and kitchen with modern fixtures that retain a 1950s air. “He kept the [kitchen] cabinets, but he replaced all the countertops with Caesarstone,” Merah says of her husband’s handiwork, adding that the cabinets are from Ikea.
With a meticulous attention to detail, Chris designed the waterfall counter to match the thickness of the ceiling beams and chose a period blue Porcelanosa ceramic tile for the kitchen and master bath. He also used Caesarstone on the living room wet bar, which is original to the house, and for the custom-built outdoor bar on the back patio.
The floor-to-ceiling windows and high tongue-and-groove ceilings were left untouched, both preserving the home’s light and airy feeling and maximizing the views of the San Jacinto Mountains.
But the exterior is a thing of beauty in and of itself—particularly the surrounding neighborhood and landscaping.
Each of the homes in the subdivision is angled to highlight the landscape and create a seamless transition between the interior and the natural surroundings, Merah notes. The different rooflines also give the impression that each residence was a custom home, even though they all share the same floor plan, part of Krisel’s ingenious design scheme. In addition, the architect avoided the use of soffits, but instead ran all electrical and plumbing under the concrete pad. “That allows for the walls to go straight up to the ceiling with the butterfly roof. You don’t have to have anything in the way—you can have just walls of glass,” she says.
Merah helped Chris choose interior furnishings that mirror the home’s midcentury roots and played an integral role in upgrades to the home’s exterior. “The landscaping when he bought the house was pretty much a pile of gray rocks,” she says. The couple removed the rubble and several palm trees, placing large circular pavers across the lawn and barrel cacti leading to the entryway. They also added slats to accentuate the white beams running between the house and the carport and installed a sunshade that offers a sneak peek of the swimming pool and deluxe outdoor kitchen in the backyard.
With the remodel complete, the couple is now enjoying their dream home—and the relaxed lifestyle they envisioned. Merah says, “It’s only a 1,600-square-foot house but it feels so much bigger, because of all the glass. It has such a nice flow.”