The ugly wood pergola on the right wasn’t permitted and it was a real eyesore. It would be the first thing to go.
Here’s what our mid-century modern home at Tamarisk Rancho looked like the day we saw it. And then below, here’s what it looks like now. We will repaint the house in a slightly darker color, and completely change the landscaping at the front. But it’s already an improvement, and getting rid of the ugly wood pergola not only gave us better views of the mountains and palm trees – it also made the neighbors happy. Bill and Mark, who live opposite, were overjoyed. Bill gave Jim a very big hug the first time they met, when we told him we were taking it down. It looks so much cleaner and sharper. Don’t you love those date palms that look like they sprout from our roof?!
Our mid-century modern home at Tamarisk Rancho now. We still have a lot to do to the landscaping, the front door detailing and painting, and some cool landscaping. But it already looks better, don’t you think?
I don’t know what it is about the 1980s, whether it was just the age of excess – remember all those shoulder pads? – but I find it really hard to like anything that was created then in terms of decor, fashion, hairstyles, or architectural styles. We think the last time anyone really did much to the house was in the late 1980s, and we were left with the legacy – gold carriage lamps are just one example. They are now thankfully consigned to the trash. The mirrored wall, now gone. The ornate pink and gold stained glass panel and front door – also gone. And the ceiling fans! OMG… white and gold, with flower shaped lamps in etched and frosted glass. They had to go. We’ll find a good home for them in a charity shop, they just can’t stay. Next up, the gold swans light fitting in the bathroom. I kid you not. Mind you, it’s so kitsch, it might almost be worth keeping. I’ll post about that one later. It’s hard to believe that one day maybe all that 80s stuff will be sought after, just like mid century is now – and like Art Deco was in the 70s. Maybe there are people out there hoarding gold carriage lamps and gold swan bathroom light fittings waiting for the day when they come back into fashion…
All the doorknobs in the house are original – except for one. The doorknob on the ‘hidden’ closet in the living room. This wall was once covered in mirrors – floor to ceiling. We had them all removed and replaced the mirrors with grasscloth wallpaper. Not only does it look great, but I noticed on ‘Mad Men’ that Don Draper’s gorgeous Manhattan apartment walls use the same paper. Score! So once the new wallcovering was up, the odd-one-out door knob was even more noticeable. The interior doorknobs and hinges throughout the house are a copper plated brass, and a really gorgeous color, something you don’t really see anymore. They were all dirty, the hinges were all covered in paint, glue, and worse, and so it was hard to see just how lovely they were. Jim thought we might be able to find the missing doorknob at LIz’s Antique Hardware, here in Hollywood. Score! They had just one for sale, the right color, the right model, and it came in its original box. Schlage, made in the USA.
See how nice this looks! It was like finding treasure. I loved the fact that the knob was untouched, wrapped up in the original instructions, in the original box. And now it looks gorgeous on the hidden closet in the living room.
My name is Melissa. My husband Jim and I recently bought a mid-century modern home in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, in southern California. We’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, subscribing to Atomic Ranch for several years, collecting 50s and 60s china, original books and magazines from the era – and now it’s real. We have a 3-bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2000 sq ft home, built in 1958. It’s one of 16 homes – each one different – on a small development called Tamarisk Rancho that was master-planned by famed architect William Krisel. Some of the houses in this community have butterfly roofs with clerestory windows, some have the apex roof line, and some have a flat roof line – which is what we have. Except that flat roof line is deceptive. Inside we have a beautiful open-beam sloped ceiling – and a stunning central wrap-around rock fireplace.
Our house suffered the ravages of a 1980s makeover, with some really unattractive gold and pink details: gold carriage lamps, curlicue pink stained glass panels, a wall of mirrors, an ugly kitchen as well as ceramic tile floors throughout. But the good news is that there are original features and details too and the house is in good condition, well insulated against 120F temperatures. We’re just getting started on making it mid-century again, and having a lot of fun. This blog will detail our journey as we make the house an awesome home and restore it to its mid century fabulousness.
Tamarisk Rancho inhabitants during the 60s and 70s were a cross section of local society at the time, and included Groucho Marx, Lawrence Weingarten – the famous Hollywood producer behind ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof’, and subsequently Barbara Marx (Zeppo’s ex-wife) who bought Groucho’s former house from his third wife. She was already seeing Frank Sinatra when she bought the house, and in her biography, Lady Blue Eyes, she explains that Frank bought the house for her. It sounds like she didn’t spend much time at home – only when Frank’s mom was staying with him before Frank married Barbara. JFK was a regular visitor to Palm Springs, so it’s not surprising that his close friend and advisor, Hy Raskin also had a house at Tamarisk Rancho. In fact both the Raskin and Marx mailboxes are still in place.
It’s a beautiful community, set among 88 mature date palms that were once part of the area’s original date palm grove. It looks much as it did when it was first completed. We’re looking forward to sharing our mid century makeover with you. And I’ll be posting photos really soon!