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Ranch home at the base of a mountain

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Chino Canyon House sits at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountain range in Palm Springs, California

The home at night

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Architect: Hundred Mile House
Photographer: Lance Gerber

About the project: This project is a renovation and addition to a custom-built home built in 1954 at the base of San Jacinto Mountain in Palm Springs, California. The original layout, post-and-beam construction, wall of custom wooden windows and unique architectural detailing are reminiscent of Cliff May’s iconic Rancho homes, yet the original architect is unknown.

The primary goal with the program was to maintain the unique character of the original structure while upgrading the home to be more energy efficient, spacious and functional. Square footage was more than doubled, but the street presence was kept minimal. The new L-shaped footprint wraps around an entry courtyard and was inspired by classic ranch homes of the Southwest. A new pool and patio off the main living area as well as private outdoor spaces off each bedroom create a uniquely Californian experience.

The original siting of the house fully considered the desert sun, keeping the main living area and window wall in shade for most of the day with deep eaves and a Northwest exposure. The addition extrapolates on the thoughtful siting and fully considers the home’s desert location.

The material palette is inspired by the desert – raw, harsh, but minimal. Rusted steel fencing and courtyard walls complement a crisp sand-coloured stucco, while the dark wood windows mirror the rust and add warmth and sophistication.

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What are some notable architectural features?

The original Douglas Fir post-and-beam construction and exposed T&G ceiling was common in that period. We restored and mimicked this in the addition to blend the new with the old. The original three-panel window design is unique for that period and in this area; it’s reminiscent of Cliff May’s designs, but has not been found elsewhere in Palm Springs.

The windows also have a unique angled face on the external structure which adds a unique mid-century character. We’ve maintained these details and again mimicked them in the new windows to blend the new with the old. Our goal was to celebrate all of the features that drew us to the home in the first place and not to necessarily make a significant new design statement of our own.

First published date: 12 September 2017

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