Poly­ne­sian Ren­o­va­tion

Meet the cou­ple who not only re­stored a mid mod dream home, but blended tiki touches with mod­ern lines for a whole new look.

Atomic Ranch - - Contents - Writ­ten and styled by Sarah Jane Stone Pho­tog­ra­phy by Bret Gum

A re­stored mid mod home is re­fresh­ing enough, but this one lay­ers in a fresh blend of tiki with mod­ern lines for a whole new look.

Ren­o­vat­ing with the in­ten­tion to sell may not be a new con­cept, but doing so with a de­sire to truly show­case Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern style as well as find a new take on tiki might be.

The hus­band and wife team of Mandy Lacher and Joseph “Joe” Vad­nay, a Cal­i­for­nia real es­tate agent, take on mid­cen­tury houses and care­fully re­vive them—blend­ing old with new, pre­serv­ing and ren­o­vat­ing. Once the long process is complete, the cou­ple lives in the home for a while be­fore re­turn­ing it to the mar­ket ready for an­other mid mod en­thu­si­ast.

“The Modernism move­ment was all about sim­ple and min­i­mal­is­tic liv­ing. When you re­move the or­nate el­e­ments of a pre-mod­ern era home, you have to fo­cus on the ba­sics: door, roof, win­dows, yard, garage/ car­port—and even just space,” Mandy says. “I think ar­chi­tects had fun with the ba­sics, such as de­sign­ing dra­matic roof lines or an­gled win­dows. Many mod­ern homes, such as the Alexan­der home we ren­o­vated, are re­ally works of art.”


Orig­i­nally built in 1959 through the part­ner­ship of Wil­liam Krisel A.I.A. and the Alexan­der Con­struc­tion Com­pany, this Palm Springs home is lo­cated in the iconic Rac­quet Club Es­tates neigh­bor­hood.

The cou­ple found the home while driv­ing through the neigh­bor­hood. A “com­ing soon” real es­tate sign caught their eye. Not long af­ter a tour, they made their of­fer, and it was ac­cepted. Mandy and Joe then got to work dream­ing up how to re­vive the 1959 gem—which they re­fer to as the “Starr house” due to its street name.

“One of the most ap­peal­ing as­pects of the Starr house is that it came with an orig­i­nal fourth room; most homes in the neigh­bor­hood are three bed­room, two bath­room,” she says. While the cou­ple doesn’t know why this par­tic­u­lar home re­ceived the ex­tra bed­room, they are con­fi­dent of its orig­i­nal­ity as they found the 1959 per­mit stamp on one of its walls.

Ac­cord­ing to Mandy, homes in the neigh­bor­hood are gen­er­ally about 1,225 square feet and most sit on about 10,000 square feet of land. Thanks to the Starr house’s fourth bed­room, it comes in a bit larger at 1,491 square feet. The pair­ing of large lots with an­gled ceil­ings make the homes, es­pe­cially the Starr's, feel even big­ger.


Balanc­ing ren­o­va­tion and preser­va­tion is a del­i­cate mat­ter every mid mod home­owner faces, and cer­tainly one with which Mandy and Joe are fa­mil­iar. “I love it when I see mid­cen­tury homes that have been well cared for in their au­then­tic state, but for me, I love the chal­lenge of blend­ing old with new,” Mandy says. While the sting of some­times need­ing to re­move an orig­i­nal el­e­ment is real for Mandy, she makes her de­ci­sions on a case-by-case ba­sis and al­ways with the over­all beauty of the home in mind.

Tex­tures, earth tones and touches of Bru­tal­ist fur­nish­ings bring tiki to the desert in a fresh, sub­tle man­ner.

“We had spent months work­ing on a de­sign, and some of it was bold, so there was a lot of angst won­der­ing if what looked good on pa­per would look good in real life,” Mandy says. With their de­sign in place, the cou­ple dove in head first with the ren­o­va­tion—ini­tially hav­ing to tackle the cleanup and re­moval of un­sal­vage­able or in­au­then­tic el­e­ments.

Over the course of a year, Mandy and Joe dili­gently re­paired, ren­o­vated and re­stored the Starr house. For­tu­nately, the house came with no ma­jor struc­tural or safety con­cerns—de­spite the many small is­sues that popped up along the way. “We’re not fix n’ flip types,” she says. “We re­ally want to get it right, and some­times that means tak­ing a break to plan and pre­pare the next step,” Mandy says.

De­spite their au­then­tic­ity, the bath­rooms and kitchen were each in des­per­ate need of restora­tion. To main­tain warmth and pe­riod charm, they chose wal­nut cab­i­nets for both spaces. In the kitchen, stain­less steel ap­pli­ances gleam against the wood tone while mod-in­spired tex­tured tiles add vin­tage ap­peal. To make the most of the available space with­out chang­ing the kitchen’s foot­print, they had a down­draft range in­stalled—elim­i­nat­ing the need for a bulky range hood.

Win­dows, of­ten a source of con­cern in terms of balanc­ing au­then­tic­ity with en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, were re­placed with dual panes. Given that many peo­ple now use these homes year-round, Mandy says the trade­off is a must. “I think the most im­por­tant thing is that we kept the orig­i­nal de­signs of the win­dows in the front of the house be­cause that was the ar­chi­tect’s vi­sion curb­side, and I wasn’t about to ruin some­thing per­fect,” she says. “I don’t think re­plac­ing the ac­tual win­dow glass dis­rupts the in­tegrity of the house.” Mandy and Joe did add win­dows to the liv­ing room to max­i­mize the view of the back­yard as well as let more nat­u­ral light into the oth­er­wise dim space.


De­spite the fact that most Alexan­der homes had fire­places, the Starr house lacked this el­e­ment, mak­ing Mandy and Joe won­der if it had been re­moved at some point. Rather than leave the main liv­ing space feeling lack­lus­ter, they seized the op­por­tu­nity to add a fire­place as well as an iconic accent—rock.

With a watch­ful eye on the in­stal­la­tion to en­sure the end re­sult con­veyed the same retro vibe as the Brady Bunch house, the ad­di­tion of a rock-clad fire­place now brings unique char­ac­ter and tex­ture to the home. “The point is don’t be afraid to bring in some of the au­then­tic el­e­ments of mid­cen­tury de­sign. There is a main­stream mid­cen­tury revival go­ing on ev­ery­where right now, but it’s a lit­tle safe, in my opin­ion. I’m not sug­gest­ing we start car­pet­ing our bath­rooms again, but have fun with it,” Mandy says.

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