Even when Jillian and Tim Sassone lived in Brooklyn, the city of Palm Springs, California had a special place in their hearts. They loved the mix of desert, mountains and modern mid-century design and celebrated their wedding there in 2010.
When they moved to the San Diego area about a year later, they continued to make regular visits. "We go out into the desert four or five times a year," said Mr. Sassone, 40, who owns the Marrow Fine jewelry company, and Ms. Sassone, 41, the company's lead designer.
Finally, they looked for a Palm Springs weekend home to buy. But finding something they liked was difficult. "A lot of what we saw was so much work that we turned our attention to land," said Sassone, with the idea that it would be better to build a house from scratch.
They started talking to architects and were about to buy a vacant lot when their real estate agent mentioned a property that was about to be put up for sale: a 1957 house by famous modernist architect Donald Wexler in Rancho Mirage, a town for example 10 miles southeast of Palm Springs.
"He said," The floor plan is exactly the place you want to go, it's just pretty much done, "Sassone said." We loved the idea of a Wexler, "he added, as well as the possibility of a multi-year Avoid construction project.
Her agent got her to tour the house before the sales list went online. What they found was an immaculate three-bedroom, 3,340-square-foot home that had been renovated by a previous owner. Some elements did not match their personal style, but they decided to dramatically change the look of the primary living quarters and courtyard while leaving the kitchen, three bathrooms, and overall architecture largely intact.
The Sassones made a quick offer to secure the house before others saw it, closing for $ 1.379 million in August 2019. Then they called for help, Barbara Rourke and Jason St John, founders of the Los Angeles interior design firm Bells & Whistles.
Ms. Rourke and Mr. St. John had recently completed the colorful Marrow Fine store in San Diego – defined by arches, scallops, and shades of pink, blue, and green – and loved the opportunity.
"It was a beautiful wexler," said Mr. St John. "For us it was one of those dream projects."
Everyone involved tried to keep the original architecture, but neither the owners nor the designers were interested in recreating an interior from the 1950s, he said.
"When someone says 'modern' what does that mean?" Mr. St John asked. “It can mean so many different things. For us, what is cool, what is popular and what is trendy is modern and really goes to the edge. "
Knowing that the Sassones wanted to use the house not only for relaxing weekends, but also as a location for photo shoots and events for their company, the designers were interested in creating instagrammable details.
"We definitely got it this way:" What will look good in a photo and what will be an effective design? "Said Ms. Rourke." Most of what we did was just adding interior elements and trying to make a big wow with things that weren't permanent and didn't change structure. "
Repeating many of the shapes and colors found in Marrow Fine's store, the designers added a curvaceous coral-colored velvet sofa set on a shaggy flokati rug, and a custom bar cabinet with a fluted blue front in the living room. In the dining room they hung gilded pendants with green fringes over a long table surrounded by cylindrical pink chairs. They chose a graphic wallpaper for each of the bedrooms.
The Sassones also included their daughters Gemma  and August  in the design process. When the girls asked for a disco ball, Bells & Whistles installed one four feet in diameter in an atrium off the foyer and living room.
"The kids are getting dance parties and it just lights up the whole living room," said Mr Sassone.
The most striking feature, however, is the outside area, where Alex Proba was commissioned by New York studio Proba to paint the inside of the pool with large freeform shapes in a variety of colors.
When Bells & Whistles proposed the idea, "we were all there," said Ms. Sassone. "It's such a great idea and such a statement that is so much fun." It was also a hit on Instagram when Ms. Proba posted pictures of the newly completed work in early March.
When the pandemic broke out, the Sassones moved into the house for a month long, overseeing the finishing touches like the addition of an outdoor bocce court. They completed the renovation in May after spending about $ 350,000.
Although they couldn't predict the arrival of Covid-19 when they bought the house last summer, they are particularly excited about their decision not to build a home.
"It's a three-year abbreviation," said Ms. Sassone. "We actually had a place to go instead of a pile of rubble."
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