A Happy Home

This cou­ple ditched the rules and fol­lowed their own mid­cen­tury muse— restor­ing orig­i­nal de­tails while cre­at­ing a Palm Springs par­adise.

Atomic Ranch - - Contents - By Jade Boren Pho­tog­ra­phy by Bret Gum Styling by Sarah Jane Stone

With a keen sense of style and a de­sire for a cheer­ful home re­flec­tive of their per­son­al­i­ties, these home­own­ers pre­served, re­stored and painted their way to their dream home.

filled with an­tiques and marked by a rich, deep color pal­ette, home­own­ers Michael Dejong and Richard Haymes might not seem likely can­di­dates for a cross-coun­try move to a mid mod home. Nev­er­the­less, in 2012, the cou­ple did just that—set­tling into a clas­sic Palm Springs abode.

“When we con­ceived [of] the house, we wanted things to be mostly white and light be­cause back East our house was from 1833,” says Richard, a re­tired art di­rec­tor and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New York City Gay and Les­bian Anti-vi­o­lence Pro­ject. Their for­mer home was “very dark, so we were ready for a 180-de­gree change.”


Michael and Richard soon found them­selves with a West Coast home that needed bright­en­ing—and not just for aes­thetic rea­sons. With a dis­mal brown paint job and what Michael, an artist, au­thor and photo stylist, called “hor­ri­ble drapes” and “re­ally bad wall­pa­per,” Michael and Richard wanted to bring the house back to its glory days. Their home is the work of Hugh Kap­tur, a beloved lo­cal desert mod­ernist ar­chi­tect who de­signed the 1959 house set amid the his­toric Ranch Club Es­tates neigh­bor­hood.

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously owned a Jersey City row house

Michael and Richard wanted Kap­tur’s de­sign to truly sing through­out the home. The cou­ple went so far as to have Kap­tur—who, at 85 years old, is still work­ing— sign their closet dur­ing the film­ing for the doc­u­men­tary Quiet El­e­gance: The Ar­chi­tec­ture of Hugh M. Kap­tur in 2012. The bright or­ange sig­na­ture only marked the be­gin­ning of a process to re­store the home to its orig­i­nal pu­rity.


To re­turn to the mid­cen­tury essence that Kap­tur in­tended, Michael, the handy­man of the house, set out to re­store—not to remodel. “The house was in re­mark­ably orig­i­nal con­di­tion,” he says. Pomona pink and yel­low tile in the bath­rooms as well as mint tiles and slid­ing peg­board cab­i­nets in the kitchen made the house a mid­cen­tury dream.

Michael re­moved any mid­cen­tury-de­fi­ant fea­tures that had been im­ple­mented by previous own­ers like non-pe­riod wall­pa­per, drapes and mold­ings. He then skim coated, plas­tered, sanded and primed the house. All of these restora­tion moves, in ad­di­tion to bring­ing the floor­ing down to raw con­crete and in­stalling wall-to-wall “kinder­garten” vinyl tiles through­out, aimed to cre­ate a clean slate.

Paint­ing a ma­jor­ity of the home’s in­te­rior white also helped to this end—but it also ful­filled the cou­ple’s non-mid­cen­tury in­ter­ests. “We like houses that look like art gal­leries, and art gal­leries are white, so we painted ours white,” Michael says.

Kap­tur— who at 85 years old, is still work­ing— signed their closet dur­ing the film­ing for the doc­u­men­tary Quiet El­e­gance:thearchi­tec­ture of Hugh M.kap­tur in 2012.

The only wall with any “color” is in the din­ing area and is a cream-on-white in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Andy Warhol’s very color­ful 1964 Flow­ers se­ries that Michael hand-painted.

Michael and Richard’s at­ti­tude to­ward the walls also trans­lates to the items they en­close. Retro pieces from the ’50s and ’60s oc­cupy a ma­jor­ity of the home, but Michael and Richard do not ad­here to a Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern rule­book. Just like the cou­ple, their home is happy-golucky. If they like some­thing, they go with it. “We de­cided we’d col­lect things that just make us happy, not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause of their mid­cen­tury pedi­gree,” Richard says.


Their care­free ap­proach in se­lect­ing the home’s fur­nish­ings also car­ries into how they pre­serve them. Michael of­ten fresh­ens up their dé­cor with a can of spray paint, a move many

“We de­cided we’d col­lect things that just make us HAPPY, not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause of their mid­cen­tury pedi­gree,” Richard says.

mid­cen­tury purists avoid. Michael ac­knowl­edges the mid mod com­mu­nity’s dis­ap­proval over his choice to paint—but his itch to craft and fix up is too strong not to sat­isfy. His pas­sion for per­son­al­iz­ing is re­flected in the paint jobs on some of the home’s nu­mer­ous pieces, from the per­fectly white Noguchi cof­fee ta­ble to the pal­ette-per­fect pep­per mill on the kitchen counter. “Michael thinks he can cure lep­rosy with spray paint,” Richard jokes.

Michael and Richard don’t limit color to the home’s in­te­rior. Out­side, buttercream walls and cheery turquoise ac­cents ex­ude the same peppy mood. The cou­ple’s gen­uine ap­proach turned their home into the “girl next door” ver­sion of liv­ing spaces: A home whose vi­brant Palm Springs or­ange door you would not be afraid to knock on.

“We didn’t want the house to look valu­able,” Michael says. “We wanted it to look ap­proach­able, and we wanted it to look fun.”


Michael and Richard’s home now boasts an easy­go­ing vibe, which is an in­ten­tional tribute to its his­tory. In 1959, the ba­sic house cost $12,500: A price tag just af­ford­able enough for a buyer to snag so they could hap­pily re­treat to a sec­ond home in the get­away town. Low main­te­nance fea­tures like wood pan­el­ing, Formica, plas­tic and vinyl am­pli­fied the home’s va­ca­tion mood.

Hav­ing lov­ingly dubbed their home the “Hol­i­day Inn,” the cou­ple sought to con­sider their guests when de­sign­ing the more prac­ti­cal el­e­ments of the home. Case in point: When you’re on va­ca­tion, you don’t worry about ru­in­ing fur­ni­ture— Michael and Richard’s choice of easy to clean fur­nish­ings, in­clud­ing plas­tic fur­ni­ture, eases this con­cern. Michael even hand­made the floor-to-ceil­ing cur­tains out of swim­suit lin­ing material so as to with­stand the desert sun. “So you have a wet bathing suit, sit on the couch,” Michael says. Tak­ing a light­hearted, joy­ful ap­proach to their home’s de­sign has worked well for Michael and Richard. Fam­ily and friends now travel the al­most 3,000 miles from New York to va­ca­tion in the Palm Spring res­i­dence’s guest rooms.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.