Palm Springs is a destination that offers above and beyond what you would expect. Naturally, there are the gorgeous resorts and spas, championship golf courses and tennis courts, spectacular art museums, popular restaurants and one of a kind shopping. What else does one possibly need you ask? For architectural buffs, contemporary design enthusiasts and just curious home aficionados, Palm Springs boasts the largest number of mid-century modern architecture in the country and is viewed as a “must see” for those that appreciate this unique, still popular and sought after home style.
Known as “Desert Modernism,” notable architects, such as Albert Frey, Donald Wexler and John Lautner were attracted to the area due to its unique and inspiring environment. Jan Horn, Executive Director of the Architectural Division for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, notes that these contemporary homes were designed between 1945 – 1960.
“The California lifestyle fostered these informal houses and the Palm Springs area was always considered a favorite home destination for celebrities in Los Angeles as well as desert seeking people from across the nation,” says Horn. The look became synonymous with the Palm Springs lifestyle, where country clubs, martinis, and pool parties captured the “cool” getaway vibe.
Once referred to as “Hollywood’s playground,” celebrities including, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope, owned modern homes that were regarded as sophisticated and hip as the stars themselves. In fact, one architect credits Sinatra for helping popularize the desert’s mid-century modern look. According to Palm Springs Life, in 1947 Sinatra headed to Palm Springs and walked into the architecture firm of William, Williams, and Williams and asked them to design a Georgian style mansion. One of the Williams, E. Stewart, showed him a drawing of a perfectly Palm Springs mid-century home, in vogue all over the desert offering glass, steel, simplicity. The singer fell in love with the concept and approved the plans. While he later sold the home and built another property elsewhere in the desert, Twin Palms, as the property is referred to, is still associated with Frank Sinatra and is available today for events, weddings, photo shoots, and vacation rentals.
“Characteristics of mid-century architecture include a flat roof, horizontality emphasized, open floor plan, walls of glass, clerestory windows and built-in appliances and or furniture,” says Horn. He also adds that most homes are commonly one story, infused with light, tend to be informal and still today extremely popular with buyers.
“Mid century modern architecture is as popular today as it was when introduced in the 1940’s,” says Horn. These simply designed contemporary houses feature a combination of indoor-outdoor living as well as a legacy of design integrity. “ Horn believes this contemporary style will continue to be in great demand in Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles and Palm Springs area.
Palm Springs offers several guided tours year round of the desert’s most notable architecture. You may also pick up a map of modern landmarks at the Palm Springs Official Visitor Center.
Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty has several mid-century modern homes on the market today in Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. Here are just a few:
Thunderbird Country Club. E. Stewart Williams Design, Noted Mid-Century Modern Architect who designed Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs home (read above) and many others. Live the best desert lifestyle. Exposed sandblasted post and beam construction, large rock-wall fireplace, entire south wall of glass offering big fairway, mountain and pool views overlooking the Thunderbird Country Club and offering indoor-outdoor lifestyle living at its best. Built in 1952 and feels like new. $989,000. Click here to see more.
This renovated quintessential mid-century home is located in the heart of Twin Palms, a well-known worldwide neighborhood especially by the famous William Krisel’s significant modernist homes. Twin Palms was the first mid-century modern neighborhood built by the Alexanders in the South Palm Springs. This beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,600 square foot home embodies some of the great mid-century elements: walls of glass, clerestory windows, pitched roof, exposed brick walls, open breezeway, great indoor-outdoor living, stone fireplace and gorgeous landscape. $774,999. Click here to see more.
Classic, light and airy mid-century Meiselman home with desirable Butterfly Roof in historic Sunmor, a Central Palm Springs neighborhood known for its Alexander and Meiselman homes. The home’s original open concept floor plan highlights the period post and beam architecture, tongue-and-groove ceilings and sloped roof. This MCM sits on a spacious 11,7000 square foot lot with swimming pool and gorgeous west facing mountain views. Originally built in 1960, this home with an eye catching exterior color is within close proximity to many Palm Springs amenities. Won’t last long. $725,000. Click here to see more.
Striking 4 bedroom, 3 bath mid-century pool and spa home featuring walls of glass onto a large sparkling pool with clerestory windows, raw polished concrete floors throughout, new outside paint and a fabulous porte cochere. Original well maintained bath tiles adding pops of period colors this home is a decorator’s dream with its clean palette, allowing maximum design flexibility. $674,000. Click here to see more.
This thoughtfully renovated Alexander home exudes style and is reminiscent of the era with modern day convenience. Double pane windows, copper plumbing, a foam insulated roof are just a few of the upgrades. The visual is apparent when you step into the William Krisel designed home located on a prime street in the Racquet Club Estates. High tongue and groove ceilings are key to the architectural interest as well as the original fireplace and original floor plan Beautiful pool and spa. Also a successful vacation rental with perfect reviews if desired. All furnishings are also available outside of escrow. $665,000. Click here to see more.
This impeccably timeless South Palm Springs Canyon Estates home was designed by mid-century architect, Charles DuBois, with clerestory windows and mountain views. The open floor plan with a wall of glass opening to the private covered patio, and the classic wet-bar give it the truly mid-century modern touch. The stone-walled and geometric exterior are the focal points of the home’s mid-century modern architecture. $479,000. Click here to see more.