With the help of an enthusiastic design team, a retired couple creates their forever home in this tiki- themed unit at a famed Palm Springs complex.
Inside a Polynesian- themed complex, rich colors and textures create a tropical getaway right at home.
When Carlos Cardoza and his team at H3K Design began work on Darryl and Michele Burns’ Palm Springs home, they had a blank slate. “It was essentially an empty space with just a little wallpaper on a few of the walls,” Carlos says. With the full support of the Burnses, Carlos was able to transform the space into a tropical paradise befitting its locale— a unit within the Royal Hawaiian Estates, designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison. Built between 1959 and 1960, the complex is made up of 12 buildings with 40 units across five acres in the Southern California desert. Now a historically designated property, Royal Hawaiian Estates features a blending of tropical and modern styles, with elements including peaked rooflines, clerestory windows, triangular apexes and bright pops of color. The couple— former Los Angeles residents— retired to Palm Springs two years ago after many years of vacationing in the city. Drawn to the desert community by its serenity, beauty, feel and midcentury architecture, the Burnses knew they wanted to
reside in a historic property. Their first Palm Springs home was contemporary, not at all what they were looking for. When this unit became available in the Royal Hawaiian Estates, they knew it was the one. “We viewed a unit that was available for sale, and it was truly love at first sight,” Michele shares. “We had finally found what we’d been looking for! We immediately purchased it and have been having fun with it ever since.”
In Carlos, the couple found a designer as excited about their new home and its aesthetic as they were. “When Michele first came into our H3K Design office to inquire about our decorating services, she told me that she and her husband Darryl had just purchased a unit at The Royal Hawaiian Estates,” Carlos remembers. “I immediately said, ‘ I would love to decorate your place if you let me do it in full tiki style,’ to which she replied with an enthusiastic ‘ Yes!’”
Carlos and team set to work delivering on this vision. The Burnses use just one of the home’s three bedrooms, which gave H3K the space to create a private media room and lounge/ bar area for the couple. The homeowners’ favorite colors of turquoise and pink informed the palette and various design choices. “I used complementary colors of cool blues and greens in the living area and incorporated the owners’ favorite color and pink flamingos- theme in the kitchen and dining rooms,” says Carlos.
Wall coverings played an important role in giving the home just the right feel. “[ Michele] wanted to have a rock wall in the lounge/ bar area, which would have been extremely expensive,” Carlos explains. “I was able to give her a lounge/ bar area with the feel that she wanted by using a photorealistic rock paper mural. Some of the old wallpaper was removed and replaced with more updated tiki prints to tie everything together.”
H3K also worked its magic on the home’s exterior, giving the lanai space some special tropical touches. The home’s previous owners get credit for a standout feature. “The tiki head on the wall out in the lanai was a tiki that the previous owner had left on the floor,” Carlos explains. “I created the round wooden frame and hung it on the wall. The tiki is called ‘ Suffering Bastard’ after a tiki drink that is the best cure for hangovers; that’s why the tiki is holding his forehead from the headache of too much drinking.”
Like the piece on the lanai, décor and furnishings throughout the home are a blend of vintage and contemporary, with many items refreshed or reimagined by Carlos and H3K. Once- beige chair cushions, for example, were re- covered in floral fabrics much more befitting the tropical theme. The tiki torches found in the home’s indoor and outdoor spaces offer a warm glow from LED flame light bulbs that replaced the original gas canisters.
The completed design has far exceeded the expectations of Carlos and his clients. “They have received a lot of attention and many great compliments,” he says. ( For more about H3K Design, visit h3kdesign. com.) “As an interior designer, it fulfills my soul to see how very happy they are living in their new space.”
TOP LEFT: WHEN DECORATING, DESIGNER CARLOS CARDOZA RECOMMENDS STARTING OUT WITH A MAJOR PIECE OF FURNITURE AND BUILDING THE LOOK AROUND THAT. ACCENTED WITH COMPLEMENTARY DÉCOR, THIS STRIKING RICH- TONED MAKATI CABINET HELPS DRAW ATTENTION TO ONE WALL IN THE LIVING ROOM. TOP RIGHT: THE DESIGN TEAM AT H3K USED WALL COVERINGS THROUGHOUT THE HOME TO HELP ACHIEVE THE DESIRED AESTHETIC.
THE BAR SPACE IN THE KITCHEN HAS A WARM TROPICAL FEELING THANKS TO ITS GRASSCLOTH- LIKE WALL COVERING.
BOTTOM LEFT THIS TIKI HEAD WAS LEFT BEHIND BY THE HOME’S PREVIOUS OWNERS. DESIGNER CARLOS CARDOZA CREATED THE ROUND FRAME AND HUNG THE VINTAGE PIECE ON THE WALL. BOTTOM RIGHT: THE HOMEOWNERS ARE ABLE TO USE THE OUTDOOR LANAI SPACE FOR LIVING AND DINING THROUGHOUT MUCH OF THE YEAR.