Alameda Mid-Century Modern: Before + After (Part 1)

Last year, I got a received a thoughtful inquiry from potential clients. Here is an excerpt:

I'm Nathan, and my dear husband is Gabin (copied). We are in the process of purchasing a fabulous 1962 single story residence ... in Alameda. The house has not been renovated since 1979, and for the time, it was a glamorous renovation (turquoise shag rug insets).

The home layout is spacious, elegant, and full of light. It's 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, with 3,200 square feet of living space. (Now you know where all of our $ has gone.)

We are looking to start a relationship with a savvy designer that can collaborate with us on an overall vision for the home, and support us in bringing this vision to life. There is plenty of work to be done, and we'll need to take a staged approach due to magnitude of the project.

I hadn't even met them yet, nor seen the home, but of course, my brain was thinking "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

We scheduled a consultation shortly thereafter (while the sellers were still in the home), and I was soon gaga over the house and for the opportunity to help the new homeowners fulfill their vision to make this mid-century modern home their "Forever Home."

Many of you have already been following along, as I started posting photos from the first time I stepped foot on this amazing waterfront/Lagoon property. The home was built in 1962 and the exterior overlooks the Lagoon, a shared water way with the neighboring homes. Just a few blocks away is Alameda's Crown Beach, and less than a few miles away are lots of great local shopping, restaurants and businesses. Alameda is so cool! (My sister lives there too, so we know how great it is!)

BEFORE

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BEFORE

Beautiful terrazzo tile floors in the main Living Room. Most of the original brick walls were covered in mirrors. (Note the mirrors flanking the Fireplace and lots more mirror around the house.)

Beautiful terrazzo tile floors in the main Living Room. Most of the original brick walls were covered in mirrors. (Note the mirrors flanking the Fireplace and lots more mirror around the house.)

AFTER

We kept the original terrazzo flooring (naturally!!!) and had new carpet installed in the original inset area, to replace the old (though that blue color was pretty fab!) Once the mirrors were removed, the home's original brick work walls were revealed. I love all the original in-floor electrical outlets!

We kept the original terrazzo flooring (naturally!!!) and had new carpet installed in the original inset area, to replace the old (though that blue color was pretty fab!) Once the mirrors were removed, the home's original brick work walls were revealed. I love all the original in-floor electrical outlets!

BEFORE

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AFTER

The original Kitchen footprint was already very expansive and offered a lot of storage. We kept to mostly the same layout, adding a center Island for prep and dining; the clients were also super smart to add a secondary sink and install dual dishwashers. (Dreamy!) 

The original Kitchen footprint was already very expansive and offered a lot of storage. We kept to mostly the same layout, adding a center Island for prep and dining; the clients were also super smart to add a secondary sink and install dual dishwashers. (Dreamy!) 

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BEFORE

The original house floor plan is quite expansive and includes great features such as a separate laundry room and additional storage area or Butler's Panty. I loooove Butler's Pantries!

The original house floor plan is quite expansive and includes great features such as a separate laundry room and additional storage area or Butler's Panty. I loooove Butler's Pantries!

AFTER

We incorporated old closet space on the left, to provide two full sides of storage; one with counter area and the other with floor-to-ceiling pantry storage. 

We incorporated old closet space on the left, to provide two full sides of storage; one with counter area and the other with floor-to-ceiling pantry storage. 

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BEFORE

Lots of mirror and brass. And carpet. This wasn't the original 1960s bathroom design.

Lots of mirror and brass. And carpet. This wasn't the original 1960s bathroom design.

This cool gold motif tile was hiding underneath all that.... plastic and other stuff.  I wish we could have salvaged somehow, but we had a plan for the new space...

This cool gold motif tile was hiding underneath all that.... plastic and other stuff.  I wish we could have salvaged somehow, but we had a plan for the new space...

AFTER

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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Inspired by Palm Springs Modern and the glam of the 1960s, we went for a fresh, airy new space, highlighted by beautiful stone chosen by my clients.  A cement tile accent wall by our friends at Cle Tile gives a pop of graphic design and color. 

I was amazed that after posting a photo of the Cle "Point" Tile to Instagram, someone sent me a photo of his original mid-century modern ceramic pot, which had the exact same "Point" design! So we were able to bring back an element of mid-century modern design back into the space after all.

BEFORE

This was the back deck. Our clients had a clear vision for the back patio area, bringing in a new slate walkway, ridding of LOTS of old shrubs and clearing way for a much more functional and modern area to enjoy the amazing water views.

This was the back deck. Our clients had a clear vision for the back patio area, bringing in a new slate walkway, ridding of LOTS of old shrubs and clearing way for a much more functional and modern area to enjoy the amazing water views.

AFTER

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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There's still many details of this home to capture and share, but after photographing for four hours, we all needed a break, plus our clients' adorable babies needed to continue their snuggling and nap times without us flashing cameras and lights everywhere. 

We hope to continue with a "Part II, Before + After," once the rest of the landscaping is completed and the family has settled in more. 

We are so happy to have played a part in helping these clients transform a mid-century modern diamond in the rough, into their Forever Home! Kudos to their vision to preserve the integrity of this home and see through a major renovation, (while simultaneously preparing for the arrival of their daughters) to make a home that they can enjoy for years to come. Congrats Gabin and Nathan! 

How To Recoat Your Eichler Foam Roof in a Weekend: DIY Foam Roof Recoating

We inherited a foam roof that was leaking even before we purchased the home, but didn't find out until we took down a wall (that shouldn't have been there) to find molded wood. We also discovered puddles of water underneath ceramic tile which was also removed during our kitchen renovation. (Imagine smashing tile and getting splashed with water, wondering - WTH is going on here?!!) During a 3-day rainstorm, we noticed a soaking wet vintage chair and I immediately blamed the kids ;) The following rainstorm after that, we saw where the leak was coming from and only then we had our AH-HA moment. Sorry kiddos! The roof was hardly seven years old, and the fly-by-night roofing company was long gone. We found Yelp reviews with consumers all up in arms, but oh well - that's another story.  

Researching DIY Foam Roof Recoating

There wasn't too much information about recoating a spray polyurethane foam-based (SPF) roof system, so I figured I would share why I tried. Quotes were rumored in our 'hood to go for anywhere between $5,000-$10,000, so this was one of those projects I wanted to figure out. Another Eichler owner, Barry Brisco of San Mateo CA, shared his experience recoating on the boards at Eichler Network, which gave me some hope and guidance with this project. I tried to locate the Apoc 252 elastomeric product he referenced, but Pacific Supply in Oakland no longer carried it, so I then got tips from our awesome neighbor located conveniently across the street, Brian Maher, who recently DIY'd his recoat over the past month.

Materials and Tools Used for the DIY Foam Roof Recoating on Our Eichler

I went with the Lowe's sourced BLACK JACK Ultra Roof 1000 White Siliconized Elastomeric Reflective Roof Coating (10-Year Limited Warranty) and decided to spray using the Graco Magnum X7 Airless Paint Sprayer, loaned to me by a fellow DIY junkie Johannes Sjoeberg @sagamadison - thanks a ton!

At Lowe's, there were two other main options, a BLACK JACK 700 which had a 7 year warranty, and a BLACK JACK Premium Silicone Waterproofing Coating which had a 50 year warranty ($200/bucket) which seemed a bit overkill, and I wasn't all that familiar with silicone products. The 10 yr product seemed to fit the bill at $83/bucket and was acrylic based, so I knew cleanup would be manageable.

Steps for the DIY Foam Roof Recoating on Our Eichler

  1. Blow all the debris off the roof.
  2. Power wash all the dirt and grime.
  3. Patch cracks, joints, seams, then spray coating

DIY Foam Roof Recoating Step 1: Blowing Off Loose Debris

DIY Foam Roof Recoating Step 2: Power Washing Surface

I borrowed a power washer, also from Johannes @sagamadison which was a 2000 psi unit that I hauled up the ladder to the roof. It worked wonders and took me a few hours to complete the cleaning. The difficult part was dealing with ponding on the flat part of our roof, where the dirty water just sat there begging to be left alone. Spraying the puddles of water around seemed, at times, counterintuitive because I was just adding more water to the pool, but in the end it worked. I tried the leaf blower, but as you blew, water would evaporate and leave muddy streaks. A better system was to blast it with the power washer all the way to the gutters or off the edge, while someone also helped to push-broom it. I thought about wet-vac'ing but I wasn't in the mood to haul up yet another piece of equipment onto the roof, and dig around for a 3-way outlet extender.

DIY Foam Roof Recoating Step 3:  Spraying the Coating

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The coating needs to be applied to a dry surface (although a competing brand mentioned to spray a mist of water that could allow for a slower drying time if needed in high temps), so this isn't one of these projects you can start at the crack of dawn because the condensation first needs to evaporate. (Yes - I can sleep it!)

I had prepared six 5-gallon buckets of coating, but planned on only using five. I was a little nervous that the sprayer wouldn't handle it because the specs on the competing product (Apoc 252) required a 0.2-0.3 tip using 3000-4000 psi at 4 gpm, and mine had a 0.17 tip (max suggested) and put out 3000 psi but it worked just fine.

I had a long 70' hose which made it convenient because that way I wouldn't have to haul up 5 gallon buckets onto the roof (I had already almost killed myself bringing down the pressure washer). 

Total Cost of One Coat of Roof Coating:

One full coat took about 5 buckets, so $85 x 5 = $425

Paint sprayer: $500-700

Power Washer: $200-400

All in you could be looking at $2,000 for two full coats and buying the tools.

Two coats should be applied. I managed to spend a few hours on Saturday cleaning the roof, and Sunday spraying, so you could tackle it in a single weekend, but I probably only put in eight hours in total for a single coat.

Good luck if you are going to tackle this project!

Installation of an IKEA Closet Using Sektion

After fabricating retro grasscloth closet doors in other parts of the house, we still needed to tackle the kids hallway closets. This time we sought out additional functionality and turned to the trusty 'ol Swedish retailer, IKEA, for a sleek custom closet. By using the Sektion system of cabinets, typically used for kitchens, we were able to customize cabinet sizes, source modular components and modern finishes to fit our 60" wide closet space.

Steps to Install IKEA Sektion Cabinets

  1. Planned out our closet system using the [frustratingly buggy] IKEA software.
  2. Ordered the cabinets at IKEA.
  3. Assembled and installed the cabinet frames.
  4. Mounted the cabinet ledger and bottom cabinet bases using 2x4s.
  5. Installed the drawers, hinges, doors and faces.
  6. Installed trim piece at the top (repurposed the toe kicks)
Here's where we started. It used to be a closet, then previous owners closed it up, then we opened it back up.

Here's where we started. It used to be a closet, then previous owners closed it up, then we opened it back up.

Installed our twin 2x4 ledger into studs so the cabinet frames could anchor anywhere along the horizontal plane. Placed 2x4s on the floor instead of using the supplied plastic feet that were an inch too high.

Installed our twin 2x4 ledger into studs so the cabinet frames could anchor anywhere along the horizontal plane. Placed 2x4s on the floor instead of using the supplied plastic feet that were an inch too high.

Test fitting a frame with a single drawer to make sure we had clearance and to see how much shimming against the back wall was required. We ended up needing to sister up another 2x4 ledger to make up the extra space in order to have the cabinet faces flush with the wall.

Test fitting a frame with a single drawer to make sure we had clearance and to see how much shimming against the back wall was required. We ended up needing to sister up another 2x4 ledger to make up the extra space in order to have the cabinet faces flush with the wall.

All the IKEA Sektion cabinets were finally installed after having to quickly mud up a new corner bead.

All the IKEA Sektion cabinets were finally installed after having to quickly mud up a new corner bead.

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We ran an outlet for our charging station.

We ran an outlet for our charging station.

What's Next For Our Eichler Custom Closet

  • T-molding for the flooring
  • Finish skimming and painting the walls
  • Find the strength to do the other side ;)

A Flooded Kitchen Gets a Fresh Start

If you have been following us awhile, you probably know that one our biggest passions is mid-century modern design. We do however love and appreciate different styles of architecture, and in particular, we have a soft spot for homes built in the early 1900s, since our first home together (which was our first big DIY project as a couple) was a four-square built in 1907 in Brighton, MA. Will have to dig up a photo sometime and post it, (but that would require taking a photo of a photo... since it was pre-iPhone and digital media days....)

Anyway, here in Northern California, we are lucky to have many gorgeous original Craftsman homes in picturesque neighborhoods, with their classic front porches and detailed woodwork, to neat floor plans, with little special nooks and built-in cabinets.

Last year, I was approached to help a homeowner re-envision her kitchen in her classic Berkeley 1907 built home. There had been a bad flood in the house a few years back and her kitchen took the brunt of the damage. 

It looked like this when I first visited.

BEFORE:

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After working through tedious insurance claims and related items (headaches), plus living in a very limited capability kitchen, the homeowner was excited and ready to get started on the design and planning process. I was thrilled to be her partner in re-imagining the space and helping to bring a functioning kitchen back into her life. She has a background in fashion design, and it was really fun to work with her ideas and bring in her love for British-inspired design, which was perfect for this era home.

AFTER:

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BEFORE:

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AFTER:

In the far corner, we created a built-in china hutch, utilizing Ikea and Semihandmade Doors, with brass hardware.

In the far corner, we created a built-in china hutch, utilizing Ikea and Semihandmade Doors, with brass hardware.

BEFORE: This was the view to the old laundry room:

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Which we turned into a petite Butler's Pantry!

The Butler's Pantry features leather pulls from Rejuvenation.

The Butler's Pantry features leather pulls from Rejuvenation.

We still wanted to keep the charm of original style materials, so we sourced this unlacquered brass gooseneck faucet, paired with a slightly modern take on a classic Farmhouse sink.

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My client found these original brass taps all the way from the UK!

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We included a bit of swankiness, with brass hardware and the integrated fridge. There is actually a fireplace on the other side, but the brick wasn't in great shape to be exposed, so we built in a new "old" brick wall with brick facing.

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These pendants hail from the UK from the company Bert Frank. They can be moved up or down to adjust the light, balanced by a (very heavy!) solid brass weight.

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New French Doors:

You can spy John in the reflection. I am so lucky to have an amazing photographer-husband-partner!

You can spy John in the reflection. I am so lucky to have an amazing photographer-husband-partner!

And for fun, one our two "helpers" on Photo Shoot day, taste testing the cookies for staging. 

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Thanks to our amazing client C, for allowing the whole family to come see and photograph the finished space. We are thrilled that we could help you create a new kitchen space to enjoy. 

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Sources:

Kitchen Cabinets: IKEA
Door Fronts: Semihandmade Doors
Blanco Cerana Farmhouse Fireclay Sink & Granite Undermount Sink: Build.com
Rohl Perrin High-Arc Bridge Kitchet Faucet: Build.com
Island Lighting: Revolve Rise & Fall Pendant, Bert Frank
Hardware: Top Knob, from Belmont Hardware
Butler's Pantry Leather Drawer Pulls: Rejuvenation
Appliances: Miele
Exterior Light: YLighting.com

Destination Eichler Featured in Atomic Ranch Special Issue Renovation Guide

We were honored to be featured in the Atomic Ranch Special Renovation Guide. Thank you Sarah Jane Stone from Atomic Ranch for the feature! It is such an honor and thrilled to be in such fantastic company, alongside the beautiful home from KUD Properties. It was a fun shoot day shot by Daniel Blue Photography, and styled by Christina Yan 

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Espirit Park Warehouse Loft Project

Our clients have been settled into their newly renovated Loft home for quite sometime now, but we finally got the opportunity to check out the fully completed space and snap a few photographs. 

Here is some neat history about their warehouse condo building, provided by one of the homeowners when they initially contacted me:

"The building was originally a wine warehouse built in 1906 before becoming the Esprit clothing company headquarters in the 1970’s, and finally converted to lofts/condos in early 2000s."

There are still many great original architectural details in the condo unit from the warehouse days, such as oversized wooden columns, concrete interior walls, and a fantastic original brick facade. 

I had such a fun experience working with my clients, integrating many of their clever ideas, such as the cats' out-of-sight litter box area under the stairs, to the mobile, yet multi-purpose kitchen island. The homeowners also wanted to integrate their mid-century modern heirloom furniture (from Paul McCobb to Eames) and eclectic art collection from their travels around the world. Some of my (many!) favorite design elements include:

I designed a custom painted mural to bring together the under-the-stairs storage area doors, which had been installed by previous owners. We had a hole cut in the smallest door, which gives the cats access to the hidden litter box. The colors in the mural were inspired by a restored family painting that hangs on the opposite living room wall.

I designed a custom painted mural to bring together the under-the-stairs storage area doors, which had been installed by previous owners. We had a hole cut in the smallest door, which gives the cats access to the hidden litter box. The colors in the mural were inspired by a restored family painting that hangs on the opposite living room wall.

Fireclay Tile subway tile paired with Semihandmade Doors in Eco Douglas Fir. 

Fireclay Tile subway tile paired with Semihandmade Doors in Eco Douglas Fir. 

Central island, which is on castors and can be moved, if desired.

Central island, which is on castors and can be moved, if desired.

Waterfall edges finishes off the bar height counter area, designed to perch over a multi-functional workspace/mobile kitchen island.

Waterfall edges finishes off the bar height counter area, designed to perch over a multi-functional workspace/mobile kitchen island.

Plenty of room for entertaining or cooking prep. Note our boys enjoying themselves on their patio, which overlooks a peaceful water feature and courtyard.

Plenty of room for entertaining or cooking prep. Note our boys enjoying themselves on their patio, which overlooks a peaceful water feature and courtyard.

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It is always so special to see design work come to life and of course working with amazing clients with fantastic ideas! With our clients' eclectic artwork, furniture and accessories in their newly renovated space, this loft is now ready for entertaining and relaxation, for both people and kitties! 

Eichler Mid-Century Modern Home Featured in WIFI Commercial

Sometimes production companies use our house for commercial shoots. Recently, our friends at Near Future, used our space to shoot video for a mesh WIFI product called eero. (And, yes, it may have been inspired by Eero Saarinen.)

At 00:30 you'll find our lovely blue Fireclay backsplash! Cool product, too. We could use some wi-fi improvement at our house! 

DIY Eichler Grasscloth Closet Doors

One of the (many) unfortunate things that happened to our house before we became its owners is that each and every closet had been altered in some (bad) way. And by altered, I mean: one closet (the hallway one, which is seen from the entryway) never had doors to begin with, nor any shelves or rods for storage. The bedroom closets were converted into these odd triangular shaped closets, by (trying) to connect two closets into one, and a swing door entry into each closet. (Yeah... still trying to figure that one out.)  We once had a huge awkward master closet that was built from our master bedroom, eating up space into the family room. That closet had a nice arched entryway. 

Eichler Guest Bed Closet

But I digress! ... We eventually "fixed" one of the triangular closets in the guest bedroom first, by knocking out the fake angled wall that had been put up in between two closets. Then once we had a "normal" sized closet opening, realized we would need closet doors. We really liked the look of the closet doors that were included in original Eichler homes, which was a shoji-like panel (zolotone trim) with grasscloth panels. 

It seemed kind of crazy to build them from scratch, so at first, we jumped on a Craigslist post for someone getting rid of their original closet doors. What seemed like a great idea turned out to be a dud, as they didn't fit our model at all (they came from another Eichler neighborhood) and plus the doors were kind of old (and musty), so ended up in the trash. D'oh.

Eichler Hallway Closet

For the hallway closet, I wanted a specific "drop-station" area for the whole family. The kids seem to do fine hanging up their backpacks every day on the same hook at school, so I figured I would try to apply this habit at home. We only have two kids, but what seems like 2.5 backpacks per kid! The hook system seems to be working (we have two rows), and then we made some wood shelves, where we keep craft and school supplies. 

We look at the corner where the closet is every day from the kitchen. And what used to be a huge clutter mess, now has someplace for everyone to hang their hat (and packs), and then we can close the doors for a zen-like look. 

Eichler Master Closet

Three-panel system on an off-the-shelf dual rail track.

Three-panel system on an off-the-shelf dual rail track.

Finishing The Closet Doors

Once each door was completed, we decided to oil the door frames, to keep them natural looking. We added grasscloth wallpaper to the masonite panels, for an "old-school" kind of look, adding the cross bar trim detail, similar to the originals. John mounted a standard sliding door track available from the big box stores. We are thrilled to have doors that fit in the original style of the house, and fit perfectly in the openings. 

Behind The Scenes DIY Closet Doors

John was pretty determined to build them, and lucky for us, we have many industrious Eichler friends who tackled the project themselves, so we could learn from them! We used Karolina's post as a guide, building out frames, with Masonite backing. This posts consists of photos from two separate door building sessions.

Angled closet wall had to go, as was a good hiding spot for the kids.

Angled closet wall had to go, as was a good hiding spot for the kids.

The lavender trim was fun.

The lavender trim was fun.

Put up Zipwalls and break out the sledge hammer!

Put up Zipwalls and break out the sledge hammer!

Demolition complete.

Demolition complete.

We had to extend the cork flooring.

We had to extend the cork flooring.

The Kregs pocket screw jig made things pretty simple. Pocket screw joints aren't exactly a fine woodworking joinery technique, but for my level of time and ability, it fit the bill.

The first time around, I routed out some space to drop in the Masonite fiberboard, but I've also constructed the doors without this additional step.

The first time around, I routed out some space to drop in the Masonite fiberboard, but I've also constructed the doors without this additional step.

Douglas Fir from Lowes - FYI these didn't exactly match original specs for wooden Eichler doors, but the closest thing I could find off the shelf without cutting.

Douglas Fir from Lowes - FYI these didn't exactly match original specs for wooden Eichler doors, but the closest thing I could find off the shelf without cutting.

Oiled with Watco natural finish oil.

Oiled with Watco natural finish oil.

Grasscloth wallpaper applied to Masonite backer.

Grasscloth wallpaper applied to Masonite backer.

Test fitting.

Test fitting.

The Master Bedroom Eichler Closet Doors

This was the behind the scenes from the second set of doors we made. Instead of routing out a channel for the Masonite backing, it was placed directly on top. The wood we got wasn't quite thick enough to staple the backing without going through, and also required the cross trim pieces to be half as thin by carefully ripping them down, which also made stapling difficult. 

 

 

Modernism Week 2017 Palm Springs

The Kennedy Compound

Social media guide, @KellyGoLightly, offered up her 6,500 sq. ft. home as a partner/client for this year's annual Christopher Kennedy Compound, which celebrates and fosters appreciation of mid-century architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in Palm Springs.

The Racquet Club Estates

 

The Signature Home Tour