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!