There's a home improvement project taking place on a midcentury modern dwelling every day: A Rummer in Southwest Portland's Garden Home neighborhood or Beaverton's Oak Hills. A ranch-style house in Hillsdale or another version of the low-profile, high-style design in Milwaukie or Lake Oswego.
But nowhere in the world is restoring midcentury architecture taking place on a grander scale than in the Southern California's Coachella Valley, inarguable the greatest depository of 1960s swank.
From October through mid-April, members of the Palm Springs Historical Society escort visitors on walking tours of "Mad Men"-era architecture.
Oregonians attending Palm Springs Modernism Week, Feb. 16-26, will be able to go inside some of the rehabbed homes once owned by celebrities, tennis pros and golfers.
A decade ago, Howard Hawkes and his partner Kevin Kemper combined their diverse backgrounds, expertise, and talents to launch H3K Design, a Palm Springs-based design consultation and project management firm. Ten years later, the duo are at the top of their game, offering everything from large-scale renovations to whole-house remodels to upscale residential and commercial clients. By offering high-caliber designs and prioritizing form, function, and style, Hawkes and Kemper deliver every time. Learn more about the designers in our Q&A below.
On Sunday night, Modernism Week will take center stage in Rancho Mirage for the Swan House — a roomy, newly remodeled Thunderbird Heights estate with mysterious provenance. The estate features clean lines and clerestory windows in the international style, and inside, it’s riddled with accent wallpaper and tile.
Just three years ago, however, appraisers suggested tearing it down.
“I really think we saved this house,” said Howard Hawkes, one of the co-owners of H3K Design, which bought the house out of foreclosure in 2012 and started restoring it this spring. “When we were getting our financing, one of the appraisers who came here told us that the house wasn’t worth saving... But we saw its potential.”
New York couple Kermit E. Ferrer and John A. Criscuolo were excited to bring their 1958 William Krisel-designed vacation home in Palm Springs, California, back to its midcentury roots while also infusing it with the charms of their other favorite vacation destination: Guatemala. Criscuolo, with family ties to the Central American country, and his partner tasked the designers at H3K Design to incorporate the colors, textures and spirit of Guatemala within the midcentury lines of this classic Palm Springs home.
A la pareja neoyorquina formada por Kermit Ferrer y John Criscuolo le fascinaba la idea de devolver su magnífica residencia de vacaciones, diseñada por William Krisel en 1958 y ubicada en Palm Strings (California), a sus orígenes de mediados del siglo XX. Asimismo, querían impregnarla del encanto que tiene su destino de vacaciones por excelencia: Guatemala. Kermit, cuyos vínculos familiares se extienden hasta América Central, y su pareja encomendaron a los diseñadores de H3K Design la tarea de inspirarse en los colores, las texturas y el espíritu de Guatemala para su reforma, manteniendo a su vez las líneas clásicas de esta residencia de verano.
Everyone within a 50-mile radius talks about — and strives for — indoor-outdoor living. But this 1958 home that underwent a deep, top-to-bottom renovation by H3K Design takes it to an awesome extreme.
Beyond the zero-level fire pit that welcomes a bar to slide over the top when not in use and the new track lighting tucked into the original tongue-and-groove ceiling, the home’s designers employed an irresistible decorating approach.
H3K got some outstanding attention from Housely.com recently. Here's what they had to say about our work:
"Have you ever seen a home design so fabulous that you wondered who did it and how? Probably. Sure, there are plenty of people who would love to redecorate and redesign their homes, but they often find themselves stuck deciding where to start and what to do. Like any other form of art, designing a home requires a lot of thought, attention to detail, time, and dedication. In fact, many people view their homes as canvases waiting to be touched. Even for people who are able to come up with lots of amazing ideas, it can still be difficult to put them into action. Also, in many cases, there are budget, space, and other constraints that keep people from bringing their ideas to life.
The first edition of Dish Creative Cuisine, in Cathedral City, had nine tables. If the dining room was classified as tiny, the kitchen was downright cramped. It worked for a couple years as the restaurant built up a following, but eventually, Chef Joane Garcia-Colson and her partner, Michelle Heinrich, felt like the "uber small kitchen" was limiting their creativity.
From the Desert Sun:
"Sunset Towers on Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs keeps getting sparked with more life, and now — light.
The three torches standing high above the classic mid-century modern roofline will be re-lighted Sunday, Oct. 12, during the Modernism Week Fall Preview weekend.
The relighting will be part of the Uptown Lights Up The Night event at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of 140 W. Via Lola and N. Palm Canyon Drive. The event is open to the public.
In the past two years, the Sunset Towers complex has been transformed from disrepair back to its 1950s glory when dining spots like Don the Beachcomber was frequented by singer/actor Bing Crosby; film director/producer Mervyn LeRoy — he became head of production at MGM in 1938 and was nominated for an Academy Award as producer of "The Wizard of Oz"; Col. Winthrop Rockefeller, who would become the 37th governor of Arkansas in 1967; and radio comedian Freeman Gosden, who voiced Amos in the "Amos 'n' Andy" show.
Today, the complex is home to Ernest Coffee Co., Bootlegger Tiki, Archangel Gallery and Woodman Shimko Gallery. The restaurant Dish will relocate from Cathedral City to the site in mid-October. The building — renamed The Twist by owners Tim Brinkman and Paul Warrin — also houses 140 Via Lola Apartments with 38 units.
'We are thrilled that the renovation of the building's famed torches was completed in time to be part of the Uptown Design District event," Hawkes said in a statement. "It also provides us with an excellent opportunity to show how we've re-imagined a faded mid-century gem and updated it for the 21st century. With so many people likely to be out and about for the Uptown event, it's the perfect time to re-light the flame.'"
The sprawling, mid-century modern complex at 140 Via Lola in Palm Springs is in the throes of a renaissance.
The property includes a long, rectangular, glass-facade building that faces Palm Canyon Drive and houses four — soon to be five — businesses and a handful of vacation rental apartments on the second floor, above the retail/restaurant level.
Behind the building, extending west on Via Lola, is a sparkling swimming pool and more apartment units — 38 in all.
The street-facing building — former home of Don the Beachcomber, one of the many Polynesian-style dining establishments opened by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, known as the founding father of tiki restaurants, bars and nightclubs — is being re-imagined by the owners of Palm Springs-based H3K Design.
H3K Design was once again featured on Houzz.com in a great piece about our recent project, Laverne 2, in a piece called "Pools and Martinis Inspire a Palm Springs Remodel".
Here's an excerpt from the article:
"What lures people to Palm Springs, California, a desert where temperatures can top 116 degrees? Oh, probably a cool pool, Frank Sinatra and a few martinis. That’s what designers Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper had in mind when they rehabilitated this dilapidated midcentury home. “We really tried to give off the sense that this was an ultimate Palm Springs getaway,” Kemper says.
The mid-century home boasts signature Palm Springs style in a total (H3K Design) remodel of a structure built by the original Alexander Construction Company. All-white interiors complemented by pops of color reflect the modernized update of the renovation. Extra details such as a kitchen countertop that appears to be floating in space and a globe-shaped vent over the stove add character to the house. Original details of the 1958 home, including exposed beams, tongue and groove joints and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, pay homage to its historical connection to old Palm Springs architecture.
by Dominique Fong, The Desert Sun
July 17, 2014
Duo give makeover to house formerly owned by Alexanders' interior designer Dean Reynolds
We tend to believe that interior designers don’t live like the rest of us—and there’s probably some truth to that notion.
But, like everyone else, their homes may also reach the point where they’ve seen better days.
Dean Reynolds was one of the interior designers for the original Alexander model homes. He designed the interior of the Alexanders’ personal residence, better known today as the honeymoon home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. His own house was a 1959, three-bedroom Alexander in the Twin Palms neighborhood.
Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper of H3K Design, who used to live next door to Reynolds, noticed his home had fallen into disrepair over the years as Reynolds spent less time in the desert.
Hawkes and Kemper, who founded H3K in 2006, began focusing their business on restoration of midcentury modern homes in Palm Springs after working on a number of projects in Santa Barbara. Their firm’s name is an ode to Hawkes’ parents, Howard Sr. and Helga, who helped the two start their business (Howard, Howard, Helga + Kevin = H3K).
Their gut remodel of Reynolds’ home has restored it back to its original midcentury splendor, but in a very 21st-century fashion.
“We really wanted a house that’s an oasis,” says Kemper. “That’s what Palm Springs is all about. People just want to get away and have a little oasis. So this house, especially for us, was a culmination of a bunch of remodels we’ve been doing over the years.”
Exterior: “We kept the front yard very minimal,” says Hawkes. “We didn’t want to give too much away on the street. Yet once you come through the door you hear the sound of water, see a pop of color and the midcentury block, and it starts to come alive.”
He also notes they oriented the concrete in the front yard to lead guests to the door to the breezeway.
Reynolds had converted the breezeway to living space, but Hawkes and Kemper decided to return it to its original look.
“I like it now because it’s sort of a trick,” says Hawkes. “You’re coming up to the house, which is really very unassuming to the street, and then you come to the door and assume you’re going to step inside but you actually step back outside and then into the house. So it’s kind of a neat little progression.”
“We always call it the rabbit hole effect,” adds Kemper. “You come out of a rabbit hole and all of the sudden you open the door and you’re in this huge breezeway and you have a fountain.”
Kitchen: “We really loved the idea of having a floating peninsula with no supports,” says Kemper. They also found an amazing range hood at a Las Vegas design show that looks like an oversized light fixture.
“It’s one kitchen appliance that’s always been left to be the ugly canopy over a hood,” says Kemper. “Why not make it a piece of art?”
“We kind of used a little bit more of an Old-World tile,” adds Hawkes. “Traditional if you will, but it has different gradations of gray and then we did a more modern line up of it. We sort of juxtaposed a few different things.”
The kitchen was their biggest challenge, adds Hawkes. “Only because we wanted it to feel substantial, feel like you could have a party in there, but not clutter it with too much cabinetry. But there’s lot of storage and functionality.”
Stove/oven: Bertazzoni Master Series; Dishwasher: Bosch Ascenta Series in stainless steel; Refrigerator: Fisher & Paykel; Pendant lights: Bronx Pendant by Eurofase;Barstools: Darwen Counter Stool by Zuo Mod; Counters: Silestone Chrome; Tile: Triton Tile; Range hood: information available upon request.
Living room: The living room previously had a large L-shaped built-in black sofa, the walls were black, and the floors a dark gray. “When they redid it in the early 1980s, it was probably very popular, the black-on-black look,” says Hawkes.
The duo added the clerestory windows on the west wall to bring in the mountain views and removed the sun flap that extended down from the roof along the backside of the house.
While the tongue and groove ceiling is original, all of the windows throughout the house are now dual pane and the new porcelain flooring from Triton Tile has a nice sheen without being too glossy.
Sofa: Nova Steel Linen Sofa by Sackville; Chair: Xert Modular Chair by Zuo Mod;Ottoman: Varr Cow Hide Ottoman, Plummers; Rug: Indochine Rug in Peacock, Z Gallerie;Coffee table: Oyster Coffee Table by Pangea; Credenza: Eldridge Media Center by Modloft; Bar cart: Ernest Bar Cart, CB2; Sculpture: Raindrops, Design 849. Dining table:Wetherby Dining table by Zuo Mod; Chairs: Criss Cross Dining Chair in Black by Zuo Mod;Painting: Quetra I Oil Painting, Plummers.
Master bedroom: Reynolds had combined the home’s middle bedroom and the master, but Hawkes and Kemper converted the floor plan back to the Alexander three bedroom.
“We put the wall back in the identical spot because you could actually see the concrete where the old walls were,” says Hawkes. “The room was so super-sized that even after adding a closet and bumping out the bathroom, you still have a good-size room with a seating area, dressers, and views.”
Bed: Verona King Bed in Grey by Casabianca; Dressers: Zen Dresser by Casabianca;Bedside tables: Collins End Table by Casabianca; Midcentury table lamp on dresser:West Elm; Bedside lamps: Steel Spiral Table Lamp, Wayfair.com; Poufs: Windward Stool by Zuo Mod.
Master bathroom: The old master bath had really big closets, two sinks, and a Roman tub in the center.
“All Alexanders had really small bathrooms, so we pushed it out not just to make it bigger but we think it makes the house feel more substantial because now you can’t see from the front door into the master,” says Hawkes.
The new design features a large double shower, glass tile, a linear drain, and a rainfall showerhead. An elongated window was added in place of a louvered “pool” door.
“The theme of the house is sort of an elongated rectangle and you’ll see that pattern repeated in the niches, the shape of the windows, and the elongated bathroom niches,” says Hawkes.
Vanity: Savio Modern Bathroom Vanity Set, theinteriorgallery.com; Shower fixtures:Hansgrohe S Collection; Shower tile: Triton Tile; Faucets: Modern Polished Chrome Lever by PoP; Sconces: Mila Wall Sconce by Murray Feiss.
Casita: The casita is a new build that adds 500 square feet of living space. It has an outdoor shower and sliding doors that open to the pool area
“We made it very flexible for buyers,” says Kemper. “They could use it as a big party room, a bedroom, or you could just fling open the sliders and put a bunch of sofas in here and use it as a big indoor/outdoor space.”
While the casita has a slightly tilted roof, elements like the tongue and groove ceiling make it feel like it could have been an extension of the original house.
Bed: Zack King Bed in Grey by Casabianca; Chairs: A-832 Accent Chair from Blueprint LA;Rug: Alonso Rug, Joss and Main; Small white table: White Acrylic Coffee Table, Design 849; "Love" lettering: Ammable Lettering, Design 849; Bedside tables: Ludlow Nightstand by Modloft; Lamps: Century Table Lamp from Z Gallerie; Dresser: II Vetro Dresser by Casabianca.