About two hours east of Los Angeles, the city of Indian Wells sits in the desert Coachella Valley, where the clear blue of an intensely bright sky is reflected on the terra-cotta landscape. The stark, sharp contrast between the city’s skylines set architects on the path of desert modernism. It was a style that was midcentury that was defined by its minimal contours and glass walls that slid out of sliding doors. Their aim was lofty to remove any barrier between them and the landscape’s natural beauty.
The San city-based ELLE decor A-Listdesigner Nicole Hollis recently completed a design located in Indian Wells, where the home, constructed from scratch in Napa Valley by Kroeger Janev Architects, has all the hallmarks of modernist desert architecture at a considerable size. It covers 14,450 square feet. The house features 14-foot ceilings and sprawling glass walls that offer views from Eisenhower Mountain. Instead of modern amenities or lavish interiors, Hollis says, “the clients’ focus was on the views and sight lines and the connection to the desert around them.”
Their approach was to use pure minimalism to preserve these vast views that the designers had in mind. In place of patterns vibrant colors, patterns, and plain texture, Hollis’s style emphasized the unavoidable qualities of balance, proportion, and light. She says A precise approach was also essential: “We worked with so few pieces that everything we did put in had to be very considered.” The space’s airy splendor is accentuated by a monochromatic palette of bleached oak flooring, ceilings made of limestone, and plain wall travertine. In the 100-degree heat of The deserts, the limestone helps to cool the rooms, and its rectangular shapes cut straight lines into the rough terrain.
The main wall of the entranceway is a stunning cover for the main room, an open-plan living area, and a dining space where the glass walls fold entirely down. Even though it’s a gated community residence is designed to create an illusion of peace. One side of the house is an expansive courtyard, while the other is endless mountains. Hollis has arranged the entertainment area in a calculated but invisible discipline, carving separate spaces that do not require the separating of walls. The formal living room is defined by the silk and wool of a circular area rug, whose curvature accentuates the structure’s sharp edges. The plush Vladimir Kagan sofas are made of mohair and velvet form in contrast to the enormous fireplace, a thin horizontal slit cut into a striking stone wall with travertine slabs. “We didn’t really want to have too many variations and materials throughout the house,” says Hollis, who chose the palette to be a solitary mix of cool grays and blues and hints of brass and gold. In another room, the wool boucle club chairs are surrounded by a small table set at the lowest point, the perfect level for cocktails.
To prevent visual monotony, a few dramatic elements are placed all over the place, similar in appearance to “little pieces of jewelry,” Hollis states. While the customers’ preference is minimalistic, they like the occasional glimmer. A striking example is the custom-designed lighting fixture created by Jeff Zimmerman- an elegant brass vine with handblown glass extending from the ceiling where entertaining takes place. An alternative is the cantilevered shelves positioned at a knee-high height in the entranceway, drawing visitors’ attention.