This Palm Springs Oasis Is a Design Paradise

Tour designer Matthew Lanphier's stunning desert getaway.

By: Jeanine Hays

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Photo By: Matthew Lanphier

Living Room Luxury

The allure of California homes is often the luxurious amount of space that they offer. But from the beginning there would be a lot of work to do to make that happen. "The house’s original layout had to be considerably manipulated," homeowner and designer Matthew Lanphier remembers of the Palm Springs home he was contemplating purchasing. "The living and dining area were much too small, so we had to lose a bedroom of the main house." The new living room is expansive, with and entire window wall to make it feel even bigger and take in all of that California sun. As a cool design note, Lamphier played with geometrics in the tiled floor, rug, fireplace mantle and window covers.

A Designer, a Desert and a Dream

For the longest time, Los Angeles-based interior designer Matthew Lanphier has had a dream. It started in 2005, just a year after starting his eponymous design firm. He was visiting Palm Springs when inspiration struck. In his mind he saw a home in California’s signature mid-century style that he could shape into the perfect desert getaway for himself and his family. The only problem was that there weren't any homes in that style available, and there wouldn’t be - not for ten more years. And so the dream would wait until 2015, when the designer came across the house that would be his. It wasn't the home of his dreams, but it was the one that he’d been waiting for. Completely renovated and dubbed "Fleetwood of the Desert," Lanphier’s desert escape is a reality, but the design is so good it might seem like a mirage.

A Bedroom Full of Shapes and Sizes

One of the major construction jobs of this project was making sense of a layout that seemed to have become more complicated over time. That made carving out enough bedrooms a challenge. The second bedroom, originally intended to be maid’s quarters, "was a labyrinth," Lanphier confesses. "One had to walk through a bathroom to get to the garage, and then through the laundry room, through a closed door, just to get from the car to the kitchen." Imposing order on this chaos meant creating new spaces. This bedroom improves on the original bedlam with a simple design in cool pastel colors. The designer’s love of shape is on display with a variety of art and accessories in a variety of sizes.

A Bedroom in Desert Colors

The second guest bedroom is set apart by its desert-themed color palette. Sandy browns on the bedding, pillow and side table are set against the dazzling sky-blue of the artwork. It’s a subtle, yet beautiful way to reference the outdoor environment, while reshaping the harsh climate for comfort.

Master Bedroom Suite

As with the guest bedrooms, this master suite is one of two that was renovated from what was previously a 2-car garage. Separated from the main house by the pool section, they show how this once challenging layout has now become the designer’s favorite feature of the house. "The transition area between the two wings is now the center of the house," the designer states. "Called the 'pool vestibule,' it features the most playful furniture of the entire property."

An Artful Journey

Lanphier's home is distinguished by its use of art. It’s not just on the walls, it’s everywhere. Paintings and wall hangings wait around every corner, while every flat surface is seen as an opportunity for placing a small statue or other shapely accessory. Even more impressive is the way that so much of the art relates to other pieces, whether works by the same artist, or works that touch on common themes of shape, color or size.

Relaxing in the Lounge

Every vacation home needs small corners specially designed for relaxation. This home offers a small library for that very purpose. Calm colors continue the feeling of serenity, accompanied by overwhelming coziness in the shape of the small side chair and pouf. With no extra room for distractions, it’s a wonderful moment of minimalism that promises long hours of reading, dozing and relaxing.

Desert Colors

The good news was that there was little debate on what to keep and what to get rid of when Lanphier revamped his Palm Springs dream home. As Matthew puts it, "it did indeed seem like the perfect home for an exhaustive redo." This redo included an whole new suite of appliances and cabinetry. The contrasting combination of wood paneling and stainless steel adds to the number of textures in the space, creating even more visual interest while keeping a consistent calm color scheme. More small art pieces at the very top of the room draw the eye upward, opening up the space.

Creative Kitchen Renovation

The dilapidation and design flaws that started in the living room also extended to the kitchen. "All of the home’s original character had been stripped," says Lanphier. "The kitchen had a 1980s drop ceiling and the flooring was beige tiles and carpet." An experienced designer with extensive architectural studies to his credit, Lanphier was quick to remedy the situation. The old-fashioned kitchen became a wonderfully serene cooking environment distinguished by a variety of textured surfaces blended together with a natural color palette. The unexpected shapes of the stools keep things interesting alongside a pop of bright color in the art.

Dining in Style

The bedroom that had to be sacrificed for the sake of a better living room found new life as a dining room. Extending the tiled floors of the living room, this space takes a dramatic twist with its large art piece and designer lighting. Meanwhile, the dining table and chairs add a splash of the classic Hollywood glam that inspired the designer at the start of his renovation.

An Outdoor Living Room

Lanphier admits that, "designing the landscaping and pool was the most fun (and educational) part of the process." That fact is made clear by the stunning outdoor lounge that borders the swim area. In addition to learning all about desert flora, Lanphier faced the challenge of reworking the 1950s idea of an outdoor pool to reflect modern sensibilities and include modern conveniences like a tanning shelf, hot tub and waterfall feature. It may have been work, but it was definitely worth it. "It’s one of the best backyards ever," the designer confides, "perfect for fun, leisure or obsessive selfie-taking."

Private Patios

A final favorite outdoor moment is the private patio that allows for sunbathing, privacy and relaxation away from the pool area. It’s clear that every inch of this home was a labor of love, something that the designer freely admits. "This home is simply my gift back to my mother’s love," he says. "I wanted the feeling inside to be one of instant relaxation, serenity and comfort. Being able to create a vacation home for my family that we could enjoy as we grow and being able to marry those attributes with Palm Springs-chic, and all in the memory of my mother, has been my life’s most rewarding project." The desert oasis is available for private stays in Palm Springs.

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