Retro Inspired Details Transform a Palm Springs Condo Into a Sunny Getaway

Today’s interior design aesthetic has been trending toward more modern looks with clean lines, neutral hues and lots of open space. You could browse Pinterest for hours and feel like you’ve been looking at the same white kitchen the entire time. While that look is appealing to some designers, others choose to celebrate the unique style and character of the past. California-based interior designers Ossie Saguil and Craig Mann remodeled an iconic residence at Park Imperial South in Palm Springs to do just that.

When Saguil, a partner in Mr. Mann’s Design, first came across the two-bedroom residence, he was intrigued by the possibilities. The historically significant mid-century modern condo was built in the 1960s by modernist architect Barry Berkus and featured distinctive features such as an accordion-style plate roofline and terrazzo tile floors. However, alterations had been made to the interior that disrupted the flow of the living space.

“The previous owner had built a wall to partition a small bonus room from the main living room, but the bonus room was not practical and ended up being used for storage,” says Saguil. “The kitchen was also small and separated from a tiny lanai that the owner had turned into a breakfast nook. But it was too cramped to be an enjoyable space.”

Saguil and his team demolished the wall and made it part of the living room, converting it into an entertainment area. To open up the flow of the kitchen, they also removed part of the counter that separated the kitchen from the lanai. This created an island that was a practical and functional space for food preparation, along with a small counter area for eating and relaxing for two people.

Eclectic Does It

From the start, Saguil wanted to pay homage to the home’s pedigree while also making it functional for modern living. He chose furniture and appliances with a distinctive nod to the 1960s, but also included items reminiscent of other decades.

“There are pieces from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and the millennia, which brings a lot of character to the home,” adds Saguil. “I collect furniture from local consignment stores and yard sales, and also have pieces from Joybird and Blu Dot. I support my artist friends by displaying their work in the condo, including two pieces that were inspired by the home.”

An Unexpected Element Sets the Design Tone

One of the defining features in the original Park Imperial South condos was the oven hood in the kitchen, which was a Robin’s Egg Blue color.

Comments Saguil, “The oven hood was very unique in a space-age or Cadillac fin way. In fact, the architect, Barry Berkus, only designed it for this project at Park Imperial South and another development in Palm Springs called Merito Manor.”

When Mr. Mann’s Design took on the renovation project, the hood was missing from the kitchen.

According to Saguil, “By serendipity, a friend of a friend of a friend knew someone at Merito Manor who was getting rid of theirs. So, we procured that hood.”

The hood was painted an unattractive brown and left a lot to be desired when it came to aesthetics. Saguil found an auto body shop that powder coated the hood to the original Robin’s Egg Blue. The hood formed the basis of the color choices throughout the condo, which is awash in vibrant, cheerful yellows and blues.

A Kitchen With the Perfect Pop of Color

For the kitchen, Saguil selected Northstar retro-inspired appliances from Elmira Stove Works – including an electric stove, fridge, microwave and dishwasher panel. He had purchased a Northstar stove and dishwasher panel for another renovation a decade earlier and remembered that Elmira offered appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue, which perfectly matched the color of the oven hood.

Says Saguil, “Retro appliances, although not necessarily 1960’s period pieces, matched the look and feel of the condo perfectly. Plus, I was pleased with the functionality and modern operability of Northstar appliances.”

In the kitchen, tall, angular windows flood the space with light, immediately bestowing a sunny disposition on anyone who enters.

Notes Saguil, “There is great flow to the kitchen. It naturally draws you in because the oven hood is so eye-catching. The appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue are also unique and make a statement. There is a lot of visual interest and uniformity, which really ties together the space.”

The retro redesign created a free-flowing, functional and unique residence while enhancing the modern kitchen area and making it a main feature of the home. Visitors love the space as soon as they enter.

“The kitchen is iconic, yet modern, and always happy. The first thing people do when they see it is smile,” says Saguil.

Read more about the condo.

Check out retro-inspired appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue and eight other not-so-standard colors.

All images courtesy of Ruben Vargas Jr.

Mid-Century Modern – Back to the Present

Style trends come full circle, and mid-century modern design is currently doing exactly that. The use of sleek lines, interesting colors and a mix of both traditional and non-traditional materials is the essence of mid-century modern style that harkens back to the mid-1930’s to mid-1960’s. So, what has sparked the current resurgence of this design trend?

Shows such as Mad Men have no doubt helped this style gain new popularity. In addition, today’s homeowners – busier than ever – appreciate the timeless look and minimal effort required to maintain mid-century modern style. And, then there is the added bonus of infusing our dwellings with a little nostalgia from a bygone era.

Breath of Fresh Air

Mid-century modern style is understated and uncluttered – providing a sense of stability in a chaotic world. This versatile aesthetic blends clean lines and gentle, organic curves with geometric forms and fun shapes to provide a minimalist look that’s both functional and stylish. There’s no unnecessary ornamentation collecting dust and dirt here. A simple wipe down will keep things looking crisp and new.

Bridging the Generation Gap

Millennials are the largest demographic purchasing new items for the home, and many are opting to furnish their homes with mid-century inspired items, including kitchen appliances. Mid-century modern is fresh to them and a welcome departure from the dusty pastels and beige overstuffed sofas that they likely grew up with.

Their parents, Gen Xer’s and retiring Baby Boomers – a growing number of whom are looking to downsize – are embracing mid-century modern as well. They too are looking for the perfect mix of “stylish, easy to clean (a.k.a. time-saving) and doesn’t take up too much space.”

But, there’s more to it than that. Age tends to make us more reflective, and memories are powerful. We all long for tangible bits of our past, and movies, music, and even furniture – in this case, brass tipped feet on an end table, an Eames-esque chair, or a barrel lampshade – can (re)connect us with the magic of another time.

Get the Look

So, how can you incorporate a touch of the mid-century modern design trend into your home?

Start by finding pieces that reflect the distinguishing features of the style. If there is a specific era you’d like to emulate, you can buy vintage furniture or an iconic piece that has been made new to suit your needs and budget. Try visiting antique markets or an online site that sells vintage and refurbished furniture.

Another way to get the look without breaking the bank is to build around current pieces. Just make sure to avoid using too many patterns, and stay within a designated color range.

Whichever direction you choose, don’t feel overwhelmed – the goal is to have fun and incorporate small elements that ultimately tie the look together and give the perfect mid-century vibes!