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Palm Springs Architecture Is What Keeps the Rich and Famous Coming Back | Architectural Digest


Palm Springs architecture has long made the town a favored destination of midcentury-modern design lovers, and the biggest names of that era (say, Walt Disney or Frank Sinatra) enjoyed the desert oasis plenty. A-lister home design standards have changed quite a bit since those days—you wouldn’t expect to find a Richard Neutra home equipped with smart home technology—and yet the appeal of the San Jacinto Mountain–surrounding region remains strong for big names and design lovers alike.

Take Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance. The Academy Award–winning actor supports a number of noble causes, and the preservation of Palm Springs’ distinct place in the history of modern architecture happens to be among them. In 2014, the actor purchased a gorgeous home designed by Donald Wexler, one of the key figures in Palm Springs’ midcentury architectural scene, right as superstars began flocking to the desert locale that’s just two hours from Los Angeles by car.

Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs home, which appeared in the December 1998 issue of AD.

Photo: Mary E. Nichols

The home was built in 1964 for Dinah Shore, a Big Band era singer, and has been gorgeously preserved and furnished to honor that legacy. Now, under DiCaprio’s watch, the six-bedroom, seven-and-a-half bathroom home operates as a hotel where visitors can leisurely soak in the design of the era for $3,750 a night. Rock clad walls, wood-paneled ceilings, and a Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant light fixture in the dining room are among the many details that quietly maintain the midcentury atmosphere within the one-story home. To ensure a comfortable stay, the kitchen and other key elements have been updated to meet modern standards, though these elements are understated by design to avoid clashing with the rest of the home.

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DiCaprio’s Dinah Shore home is located in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood, a favorite of many celebrities of the midcentury period—from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis Presley. Indeed, each neighborhood in Palm Springs tells a distinct story. La Quinta, an area in Greater Palm Springs which predominately features Hacienda- or Spanish-style homes that lack the same architectural allure as older builds in the area, is particularly en vogue with the reality television royalty of today, who seem to be injecting some architectural style into the neighborhood. Kourtney Kardashian and Kris Jenner own ultra-modern mansions in La Quinta, and Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian recently bought plots of land there. Kim in particular has big plans for her parcel—she shared in her recent Vogue cover story that Tadao Ando is designing a house for it.

Ando has designed memorable buildings across the globe (including a Malibu home that now belongs to Kanye West), and though his signature style is not quite desert modern, his emphasis on seamlessly integrating his homes in their natural surroundings is perfectly suited for the area and will become a valuable addition to the rich architectural legacy of Palm Springs. Other famous La Quinta residents include Lori Loughlin and Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber.


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