When a creative couple seeks a vacation from life and work on the East Coast, Palm Springs is the place to go. And when looking for the perfect modernist architecture in Palm Springs, a William Krisel ranch is the hot ticket.
Homeowners Tom Dolle, creative director for Destination PSP and graduate Communications Design adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, and George Waffle, business manager for garden writer and photographer Ken Druse, had long known that they wanted Palm Springs to be their second home. In October 2014, the couple found their ideal West Coast vacation home nestled in the Canyon View Estates neighborhood.
“The minute we walked in [the living room] when we saw the place, that was it. We loved it,” Tom says.
The home was designed by architects Dan Palmer and William Krisel and built in 1963 by the Alexander Construction Company. As part of the fourth phase of the Canyon View Estates development, Tom and George’s home is the larger of two available floor plans—offering two bedrooms as well as a den and two full bathrooms.
The unit retains the original floor plan, save one detail. An open carport sits just to the left of the front courtyard, while a stone façade—which just so happens to be original—creates a storage space for otherwise unsightly trashcans and utilities. Just off of the kitchen is an open service area. Beyond it all, the living room opens up to a large patio where a dining table and ample seating makes it an ideal location for entertaining or lounging in the summer sun.
The one detail changed? A previous owner removed a wall that divided the den from the main living room, opening the spaces up to one another and improving the flow of the entryway; They also converted the den’s closet into an entertaining-ready wet bar.
Stepping into Tom and George’s home is like stepping into an entirely new world. After the heat of the desert, the inside of the house comes to life; the environment transforms into a paradise, filled with vibrant color. The house is an escape from the heat, but still invites the sun to illuminate the entire space.
Perhaps the most dramatic element of the home is not its excellently laid-out floor plan or even the countless original details, but the umbrella roofline. In the main living room, the roofline is anything but ordinary, with triangular clerestory windows offering light and views of palm treetops as well as the nearby San Jacinto Mountains. Tom and George’s favorite element of the home is that it is light, bright and open—all things to which the roofline windows contribute. Their presence at the apex of the wall and roofline opens the home up to the outdoors in a uniquely captivating way, without compromising on privacy.
When Tom and George purchased the home, renovations had already been completed. Previous owners David and Arianne Keens focused their work on returning the home to its original glory. The Keens completed full renovations on the kitchen—installing colorful Ikea cabinets with a custom panel—and master bath, as well as updated the flooring throughout the house. The white porcelain tile mimics the home’s white exterior and further lightens the house’s interior—celebrating its sunny location and openness.
Tom and George had already fallen in love with their new home, but they wanted to furnish it with their favorite furniture and accessories so it could truly belong to them.
Despite purchasing a turnkey home, Tom and George have not missed any opportunity to bring their own personalities into the space. Many of the home’s furnishings—both vintage and new—were purchased locally, while art, books and accessories were shipped over from their East coast home. Destination PSP, Hedge, JP Denmark and Just Modern were a few of their favorite spots for styling the house.
“We’re not purists,” Tom says. “We like things that we like—if they happen to be vintage that’s great, and if they happen to be new, that’s okay too.” Tom and George look for their collected pieces to have a purity of form, whether that manifests itself in vintage or modern.
“Really good design comes from all different periods. A lot of the things in the house are vintage, as we were able to find a lot of good vintage things locally, but we supplemented it with a lot of new things because they fit in too,” Tom says.
We won’t forget comfort,” George says. “It has to be comfortable because we’re living and enjoying it here.” Tom agrees, adding, “Yes, everything has to be comfortable, it can’t be precious.”
Not only did Tom and George inherit a well renovated home from the previous owners, they were also able to purchase a couple key pieces of furniture. The walnut and glass dining table, as well as the sofa, were already in the home and perfectly suited Tom and George’s tastes.
As Tom explains, “This has been the opportunity for us to have the midcentury dream that we’ve always wanted—by having a place in Palm Springs, the furniture that matches it, being able to put our artwork here, and all of the things we’ve collected over the years.”