Frey House II

Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernI’ll say it again: what an incredible treat to tour the Frey House II during our recent Palm Springs visit. Visiting Edris was enough for a lifetime, so this pushed things over the top for this crazy architecture lover. I have a thing for rock in homes so obviously this house blows my mind in every way. Albert Frey isn’t called the Father of Desert Modernism for nothing. He designed some of the most iconic structures and homes in Palm Springs. Mix that design genius with the purity and creative explosion that occurs when architects are their own clients, and you’ve got a masterpiece personal residence. Frey meticulously custom built this beauty literally into the mountain site. At the time, it was the highest home in the city. Though it comes in at only 800 sq ft and utilizes humble materials (plywood, corrugated aluminum, concrete and found giant rocks), the house is the opposite of modest. More like spectacular and breathtaking. Impeccably designed.

Frey lived here from its completion in ’64 until his death in ’98. At that point, the Palm Springs Art Museum acquired it, opening the home up to public tours. During my visit, the docent encouraged us to take the full sensory tour with only napping on the bed off limits. I touched the dimmer switch in the rock and all! The house is highly photogenic, warm, and full of angles and colors, but again, my gazillion crappy iphone photos don’t begin to do this justice. This is definitely one you have to see through the lens of actual architectural photographers…or better yet, in person!
Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern corrugated aluminum Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architectureFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architectureFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern Frey House II clock built in thermometer barometer Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modernFrey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture Palm Springs mid century modern Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture mid century Palm Springs Frey House II 2 Albert Frey architecture mid century Palm SpringsA few things I’d like to add: One, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I “grew up” thinking of this home in black and white and neutrals. My mind never considered the possibility of colors in the historical black and white photos of this place, my only reference (besides snooping on a mountainside from yards away). I incorrectly assumed that the colors of the mountain, meaning brown rocks, drove the assumed neutral palette. The mountain indeed did, but it was the wildflowers and the sky and the trees. I was way off. This is a house of color. Bright cheerful color, quite different from the Edris palette, and quite delightfully unexpected to me.

Second, and I say this in the most endearing way, but all the aluminum and warm wood, hidden storage, and size (color scheme too!) remind me of our old Shasta trailer. But the thing that sets it apart from shabby trailer is the spaciousness, light, and site. It has a presence. The home is a true testament to the power of great design. That luxury doesn’t come from size or expensive materials, but from inventive solutions and creative problem solving. Or in other words, thoughtfulness. I would say this house lives very, very large even though it is relatively tiny and it makes me wonder why this type of practical sophistication (I’m talking cantilevered pool practical sophistication) is still out of reach, or want, to the masses?

Lastly, if you don’t already know, this is the second home Frey built for himself in Palm Springs, hence the II. Frey House I sat on the desert floor and is sadly is no longer standing, but is absolutely worth a study (highly recommend this video! No clue what they are saying, but the animated models of the house and its subsequent additions provide fantastic visuals! My kids and I can’t stop watching it.) Some common themes are small living, standard materials, but exceptional design. And built in concrete pool loungers too. What a mind.

OK, I promise to put a lid on the Palm Springs talk for a while. Back to our regularly scheduled humble house updates next time!

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Edris House

Edris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert ModernI am beyond grateful for the opportunity to tour the Edris House during Modernism Week last month. Perfect is the only correct word to describe this dwelling. Utter architectural perfection. Built in 1954 by architect E. Stewart Williams, the house was meticulously custom built for his friends, the Edrises, who gave Williams free rein in design and budget. He obviously went to town and the result is, in my opinion, incredible and perfect. It’s a pleasure from top to bottom. Elegant, restrained but playful, organic, textural and impressively at home on the boulder covered hill where it sits. The epitome of desert modern. When it comes to houses, there is simply none better. I totally teared up inside and am only slightly embarrassed to admit it. Good architecture is moving and, man, did this house move! Did I mention P.E.R.F.E.C.T.I.O.N.?

(Note: This house deserves better than my crappy iphone photos…I thought about lugging my good camera along with me, but then thought why? A slew of extremely talented photographers with the correct equipment, Julius Schulman being one of them, have expertly captured this house many times so definitely check out their work! And I didn’t get a good shot of the kitchen space or the bar and those are must see features!)
Edris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert ModernEdris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert Modern Edris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert Modern landscape designEdris House front door sconce light entry porchEdris House Entry sconce mid century indoor planter Edris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert Modern fireplace rock mid century sconcesEdris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert Modern fireplace rock mid century Edris House built inEdris House Planter Indoor mid century Edris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert ModernEdris House Bedroom Nelson lamp mid century sconce woodEdris House Bathroom mid century floating vanity cone sconce mirrorEdris House Bathroom BathEdris House Bathroom Shower Edris House lighting mid century original sconceEdris House E Stewart Williams Palm Springs Desert Modern pool palm treesSo, just some details I want to make sure you didn’t miss: First, that mega floating vanity/dresser/mirror in the master suite. It’s double-sided and sits between a wall of closets and the bathtub. The side pictured is a floating dresser and the opposite side features a floating vanity with a sink. The light switch is under the mirror frame! Second, all the original beautiful sconces, inside and out. I think one of my favorite things about this house is how cohesive it is. Every room, wall, corner looks like it belongs to each other because only a few consistent, though interesting and sculptural, materials are used throughout, the lighting being a great example. Lastly, that indoor-outdoor flow! Nearly every room has a wall that extends seamlessly passed a wall of glass. In the master it is the Douglas fir wall, the living and second bedroom have a rock wall, and even the master bath’s tiled shower wall extends into a private patio, where original towel hooks hang on the exterior side of the sliding glass door. Woooo-weeeee!

I can’t give a big enough thanks to the owner of the home for opening it up to strangers (and their cameras!), not to mention for being an excellent steward of this amazing property (as far as I know, it’s still for sale and absolutely worth the millions asked!!!), and to the Palm Springs Modernism Committee for putting the tour together. You made this weirdo’s dream come true for $30. The best 30 bucks a weirdo ever spent.

Modernism Week Recap

Hey all! I’m a little behind recapping Modernism Week, but we left, as always, with so much momentum that would be stupid to not act on asap. Major floor work getting done over here! The week was so great though! Such a packed, but fun visit. While I wasn’t particularly jazzed about the increased Palm Springs crowds – I think we tend to travel in off season/ghost town times so the traffic jams and restaurant lines were unexpected and annoying – there were many upsides to all the people. For starters, house creeps blend in with all the other house creeps, making us all super legit. Crazy ladies are given a pass to gawk this one special week of the year.

Of course, the obvious bonus to the madness was all the events and house tours. I only ended up doing two official house tours, the Edris House and the Frey House II (which I’ll share next time because they each deserve their own space), because most everything was sold out by the time we decided to go. I know I missed out on some incredible houses (like the Frank Sinatra estate and the Morse Residence), but I have ZERO complaints because Edris and Frey have been my top two favorite houses for like ever. Like, I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with them. I never ever expected to see the interiors of one, let alone both, and they were both FAR beyond expectations, leaving me feeling incredibly fortunate.

Additionally, I got to see the West Elm House and another really cool home for sale in the Royal Hawaiian Estates, both of which I’m sharing today (all iphoners). Lots of take aways!First up: I’ve had my eye on this listing in the Royal Hawaiian Estates for a few months and was so happy to see it in person. I love mid-century Polynesian madness, and this whole 60’s complex is top notch. Fun facts, Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison designed the estates (which, in this case, is a fancy name for condos) and they were originally for the 55 and older Jewish crowd. The place has an odd restoration story. The place was way run down by the 90’s and decisions by the board to remove, not restore, certain architectural details only intensified the downward spiral. But recently residents have taken big steps, including becoming the first Historic Residential District in the city, to restore the place to its former magnificence. This particular unit, in glorious original condition, was obviously decorated by someone who ran with the Polynesian theme, and who should be my best friend. Sadly, it won’t be our future vacation home, not that we’re looking, but not that I’m not looking, because I’m always looking. EEK!
Royal Hawaiian Estates Palm Springs mid century bedroom wallpaper polynesianRoyal Hawaiian Estates Palm Springs mid century bedroom wallpaper polynesianLook, they have a dressing room too!Royal Hawaiian Estates Palm Springs mid century closet wallpaper polynesian Royal Hawaiian Estates Palm Springs mid century yellow bathroom wallpaper polynesianShould I paint my kitchen yellow? I should paint my kitchen yellow.  I didn’t snap a photo of their iconic flying sevens or their colorful front doors, so you must get googling if you’re not familiar!

Next up, the West Elm house. This house is actually owned and was renovated by Acme House Co., a vacation rental company, meaning you can rent it! West Elm furnished it. The furnishings were fine and all, basically like a cool West Elm location complete with pulsating shopping music. But I was there for the architecture and renovation of the Alexander home, which had so many good ideas with universal (if you are me) appeal! Breezeblock, not original to the house, was incorporated successfully inside and out into exterior walls, outdoor bars, mailboxes, firepits, and a bathroom vanity wall. I was really inspired by all of it and am still trying to figure out how I can replicate the bathroom wall situation. The entire bathroom will serve as inspiration for our abandoned bathroom project if we ever decided to do a full renovation. The layout is perfect for our space and the shower flanked by a sliding door to the backyard is a dream. (The sliding door has a pull down screen on the exterior for privacy!)
I also loved the outdoor spaces. They turned a front yard dominated by a large U shape driveway into a few private patio spaces, one for every front-facing bedroom. The front door is a giant sliding door within the first patio.
West Elm House Palm Springs Modernism Week 2017 mailbox breeze blocks breezeblock

As if all the houses weren’t enough, the best bonus to Modernism Week was having so many Instagram friends in town! Meeting in real life was so much fun! I had the privilege of hanging with the good folks from Destination Eichler, Fogmodern, Ma and Pa Modern, and Dear House I Love You – all Eichler people (or Eichler painters…see @aaroneskridge for his awesome I Like Eich paintings that I’m sure you’ve seen all over) so you know they are great! I also got to spend a wonderful afternoon walking neighborhoods, drooling over houses, and just talking life with Audrey from @wildwoodmodern. She is the sweetest! The internet is pretty incredible, allowing you to connect with people you might actually really like. I put the intro in introvert and generally don’t like socializing or small talk or really any social conventions/norms (picture Larry David in lady form and you’ve got me), but get me at a table full of house nerds and I could hang all night. My kind of people! I definitely recommend you check out all of their houses and renovations if you don’t already follow them! Every one of them is doing incredible work!

I’ll be back next time with my favorite houses, while saying the word perfection far too many times. Thanks for reading :)