H3K Design Restores Midcentury Splendor to Palm Springs Home

Duo give makeover to house formerly owned by Alexanders' interior designer Dean Reynolds

As you walk past the outdoor entrance, you're greeted by a pop of door color and the midcentury block.

Photo by Ketchum Photography


We tend to believe that interior designers don’t live like the rest of us—and there’s probably some truth to that notion.

But, like everyone else, their homes may also reach the point where they’ve seen better days.

Dean Reynolds was one of the interior designers for the original Alexander model homes. He designed the interior of the Alexanders’ personal residence, better known today as the honeymoon home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. His own house was a 1959, three-bedroom Alexander in the Twin Palms neighborhood.

Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper of H3K Design, who used to live next door to Reynolds, noticed his home had fallen into disrepair over the years as Reynolds spent less time in the desert.

Hawkes and Kemper, who founded H3K in 2006, began focusing their business on restoration of midcentury modern homes in Palm Springs after working on a number of projects in Santa Barbara. Their firm’s name is an ode to Hawkes’ parents, Howard Sr. and Helga, who helped the two start their business (Howard, Howard, Helga + Kevin = H3K).

Their gut remodel of Reynolds’ home has restored it back to its original midcentury splendor, but in a very 21st-century fashion.

“We really wanted a house that’s an oasis,” says Kemper. “That’s what Palm Springs is all about. People just want to get away and have a little oasis. So this house, especially for us, was a culmination of a bunch of remodels we’ve been doing over the years.”

Exterior: “We kept the front yard very minimal,” says Hawkes. “We didn’t want to give too much away on the street. Yet once you come through the door you hear the sound of water, see a pop of color and the midcentury block, and it starts to come alive.”

He also notes they oriented the concrete in the front yard to lead guests to the door to the breezeway.

Reynolds had converted the breezeway to living space, but Hawkes and Kemper decided to return it to its original look.

“I like it now because it’s sort of a trick,” says Hawkes. “You’re coming up to the house, which is really very unassuming to the street, and then you come to the door and assume you’re going to step inside but you actually step back outside and then into the house. So it’s kind of a neat little progression.”

“We always call it the rabbit hole effect,” adds Kemper. “You come out of a rabbit hole and all of the sudden you open the door and you’re in this huge breezeway and you have a fountain.”

Kitchen: “We really loved the idea of having a floating peninsula with no supports,” says Kemper. They also found an amazing range hood at a Las Vegas design show that looks like an oversized light fixture.

“It’s one kitchen appliance that’s always been left to be the ugly canopy over a hood,” says Kemper. “Why not make it a piece of art?”

“We kind of used a little bit more of an Old-World tile,” adds Hawkes. “Traditional if you will, but it has different gradations of gray and then we did a more modern line up of it. We sort of juxtaposed a few different things.”

The kitchen was their biggest challenge, adds Hawkes. “Only because we wanted it to feel substantial, feel like you could have a party in there, but not clutter it with too much cabinetry. But there’s lot of storage and functionality.”

Stove/oven: Bertazzoni Master Series; Dishwasher: Bosch Ascenta Series in stainless steel; Refrigerator: Fisher & Paykel; Pendant lights: Bronx Pendant by Eurofase; Barstools: Darwen Counter Stool by Zuo Mod; Counters: Silestone Chrome; Tile: Triton Tile; Range hood: information available upon request.

Living room: The living room previously had a large L-shaped built-in black sofa, the walls were black, and the floors a dark gray. “When they redid it in the early 1980s, it was probably very popular, the black-on-black look,” says Hawkes.

The duo added the clerestory windows on the west wall to bring in the mountain views and removed the sun flap that extended down from the roof along the backside of the house.

While the tongue and groove ceiling is original, all of the windows throughout the house are now dual pane and the new porcelain flooring from Triton Tile has a nice sheen without being too glossy.

Sofa: Nova Steel Linen Sofa by Sackville; Chair: Xert Modular Chair by Zuo Mod; Ottoman: Varr Cow Hide Ottoman, Plummers; Rug: Indochine Rug in Peacock, Z Gallerie; Coffee table: Oyster Coffee Table by Pangea; Credenza: Eldridge Media Center by Modloft; Bar cart: Ernest Bar Cart, CB2; Sculpture: Raindrops, Design 849. Dining table: Wetherby Dining table by Zuo Mod; Chairs: Criss Cross Dining Chair in Black by Zuo Mod; Painting: Quetra I Oil Painting, Plummers.

Master bedroom: Reynolds had combined the home’s middle bedroom and the master, but Hawkes and Kemper converted the floor plan back to the Alexander three bedroom.

“We put the wall back in the identical spot because you could actually see the concrete where the old walls were,” says Hawkes. “The room was so super-sized that even after adding a closet and bumping out the bathroom, you still have a good-size room with a seating area, dressers, and views.”

Bed: Verona King Bed in Grey by Casabianca; Dressers: Zen Dresser by Casabianca; Bedside tables: Collins End Table by Casabianca; Midcentury table lamp on dresser: West Elm; Bedside lamps: Steel Spiral Table Lamp, Wayfair.com; Poufs: Windward Stool by Zuo Mod.

Master bathroom: The old master bath had really big closets, two sinks, and a Roman tub in the center.

“All Alexanders had really small bathrooms, so we pushed it out not just to make it bigger but we think it makes the house feel more substantial because now you can’t see from the front door into the master,” says Hawkes.

The new design features a large double shower, glass tile, a linear drain, and a rainfall showerhead. An elongated window was added in place of a louvered “pool” door.

“The theme of the house is sort of an elongated rectangle and you’ll see that pattern repeated in the niches, the shape of the windows, and the elongated bathroom niches,” says Hawkes.

Vanity: Savio Modern Bathroom Vanity Set, theinteriorgallery.com; Shower fixtures: Hansgrohe S Collection; Shower tile: Triton Tile; Faucets: Modern Polished Chrome Lever by PoP; Sconces: Mila Wall Sconce by Murray Feiss.

Casita: The casita is a new build that adds 500 square feet of living space. It has an outdoor shower and sliding doors that open to the pool area

“We made it very flexible for buyers,” says Kemper. “They could use it as a big party room, a bedroom, or you could just fling open the sliders and put a bunch of sofas in here and use it as a big indoor/outdoor space.”

While the casita has a slightly tilted roof, elements like the tongue and groove ceiling make it feel like it could have been an extension of the original house.

Bed: Zack King Bed in Grey by Casabianca; Chairs: A-832 Accent Chair from Blueprint LA; Rug: Alonso Rug, Joss and Main; Small white table: White Acrylic Coffee Table, Design 849; "Love" lettering: Ammable Lettering, Design 849; Bedside tables: Ludlow Nightstand by Modloft; Lamps: Century Table Lamp from Z Gallerie; Dresser: II Vetro Dresser by Casabianca.

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