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palm springs

How to create your own Palm Springs-style house

March 30, 2021 10:00 am by Upside

With our sunny locales and our penchant for blending the indoors and outdoors, it’s no wonder that the architecture design style that originated in Palm Springs is seeing a boom among Aussie homeowners.

Somehow the glamorous yet relaxed mid-century modern look that found its start in the Californian desert lends well to Australia’s coastal areas with its chic, clean lines, and dry weather-friendly landscaping.

And if you want to bring that same Palm Springs design to your own home, here are some must-haves in recreating the iconic look Down Under.

Stay single storey

Palm Springs homes are typically one storey. This is a deliberate design choice to ensure that the beautiful mountains in the Californian desert aren’t covered up. Building a home and want to emulate the look? Stick to a one-floor home!

Integrate breeze blocks in your design

Breeze blocks are a key feature of the home
Breeze blocks are a key feature of the home. Source:

These stacked cinder blocks, sometimes called ‘screen blocks’, are ubiquitous in Palm Springs design since they were ideal for letting the breeze in and offering protection from the sun whilst allowing the homeowner some privacy. These made breeze blocks perfect for hot places like the California desert, and of course, Australia.

Mind you, breeze blocks aren’t ordinary cinder blocks. Aside from their purpose of letting air flow in, they’re also quite decorative.

Keep the roof low

butterfly roof The Palm Springs style is inextricably linked to flat or broad butterfly rooves. The way these roofs were constructed gave the houses a more modern look and meant that the gorgeous desert backdrop remained unobscured. But they also served the purpose of making the houses more energy efficient in terms of lighting, heating, and ventilation.

And if you’re particularly environmentally conscious, it should delight you to know that the butterfly roof is excellent for water collection systems and for rooftop solar panel installations.

Recreate Palm Springs through landscape design

The Palm Springs look is incomplete without the presence of hardy, hot climate-ready flora. There are a variety of plants to choose from; palms like the Bismarckia nobilis and a nearly endless list of easy-to-maintain succulents and cacti like the Peruvian apple cactus and golden barrel cactus will be perfect in your “desert oasis” garden.

Remember that since the style you’re taking inspiration from is a desert, and not a forest, it’s best to keep things minimal with some pebbles and rocks rounding out the design.

RELATED: Our top tips for outdoor decorating

Water features and pools are a big part of Palm Springs design

palm springs pool Given that the Palm Springs look gained popularity in desert retreats, it’s not surprising that a must-have for property inspired by the aesthetic should have a man-made water feature or pool – how else would one cool off?

Given our hot summers here, a luxurious and relaxing pool with a few lounge chairs and umbrellas isn’t entirely unwelcome either (Plastic flamingos optional!)

RELATED: Does having a pool increase property value

Not into pools? Small ponds or modern fountains can work as well.

Let the outside in with windows

A classic facet of Palm Springs homes is the use of windows. Typically, a home that follows this design will use clerestory windows or smaller, above eye-level windows in the front of the house and floor-to-ceiling ones at the rear, towards the yard or pool area.

Doing this makes the indoor-outdoor flow seamless. Additionally, the windows are great for supporting both active and passive cooling and ventilation as well as for letting natural light inside the house.

Minimalist with a pop of colour

You’ll find that Palm Springs style leans towards the minimal. Clean lines, white or neutral walls, and mostly symmetrical facades are typical among houses in the area but you’ll also vibrant pops of colour, usually on the front doors.

You’ll also find stacked stone and timber integrated in Palm Springs design but used in a much more subdued manner compared to say, a river cottage or hunting lodge. Palm Springs design is light, breezy, and chic.

Timber, metal, and concrete make the look

timber metal When it comes to interiors, the Palm Springs home showcases a lot of timber, metal, and concrete. The look eschews busy decorative flourishes to highlight the natural characteristics of the materials. Spaces are open and spacious, especially the kitchen and living room, yet somehow cosy.

Furniture and decor-wise, think Eames lounge chair and ottoman, pendant lighting, velvet sofas, and area rugs.

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