Christopher Gaona, Inc.
His grandfather was a designer who built furniture in Mexico. His father imported patio furniture, and his uncle was an architect. “At heart, I’ve always been a designer,” says Christopher Gaona. “I was an only child and not a particularly social one. But I found plenty to do. I was 10 or 11 when I completely built out my own closets. I used to rearrange my parents’ furniture, but they supported it. That energy was always around me, and creativity was encouraged.”
Gaona maintains a Los Angeles office, but often works in the area. Something happens on the drive in from the city, over the mountains, and into Palm Springs, where he is attracted to the colors and the ambiance as inspiration. “In the desert, there is the same sense that I always try to bring to a room: a sense of relaxation that these days is hard to find,” he says. “Time moves a little slower. Maybe it’s the heat, but I love that.”
Marrakesh Country Club in Palm Desert is the site of the Kyle and Renee Grasso residence shown here. While the exterior is a Bermuda-sand pink like all of its neighbors, the inside is toned down in ivory, golds, tans, peach, and the occasional shot of burnt orange. “I love color, but I think it needs to be appropriate. I use a lot of sheers. I like rooms that are relaxed but still elegant — rooms where you are as comfortable entertaining 20 people as you are home alone in your jammies.”
The owners of this home trusted Gaona even when he approached them with the idea for an orange, paneled-suede headboard in the guest room. The vibrant color choice was a gamble, but this home is the fourth he has done for the couple and they gave the nod. To add depth to his overall design, Gaona took the liberty of swapping elements around. “Culled from different rooms in their different houses, the home becomes organic. It holds things that have evolved and grown with them. I like each home to remind them of their other favorite places.” A mirror in one bathroom of this Palm Desert home is encrusted in creamy white seashells, an ode to their home at the beach in Santa Monica.
That mirror happens to be an older piece — a treasured find like the pair of 1940s estate chandeliers that were split up to hang in the kitchen and dining room. Its reflection is darkened in spots and almost foggy. (Why look polished on vacation?) Admiring its imperfections, Gaona says people are emerging from the “Pottery Barning of America” and turning toward a look that is a bit more old-fashioned. Homeowners once again want to showcase select vintage pieces and display things they have collected. “Pieces can come from anywhere, from any level of the design world. That’s what gives a room its charm,” Gaona says. His clients are moving away from elements that come off as too stark and are gravitating toward the warmth of hardwoods and carpeting. Back in the guest room (see page 2), Gaona stained the vintage desk to match the blond oak floors.
In a house so full of beautiful contrasts — from the oak floors to marble and terrazzo tile — it makes sense that the master bath is a jewel box of new mirrors from floor to ceiling. Along one wall, Gaona custom designed a bathroom cabinet with 18th century touches to give the feel of furniture while providing solid storage. A medicine cabinet disappears into the mirrored wall. Gaona welcomes the chance to make these custom pieces for his clients, but also admits, “I love to shop — everywhere,” he says. He hits up flea markets, garage sales, and auctions while he’s making the rounds to designer showrooms. “The hunt — that’s what gets me going.”
“I’d like to do a yacht, or, the interior of a plane,” Gaona says. “On a ship, you could get totally offbeat. On the plane, I would be into using wonderful finishes and things you want to touch.”
Christopher Gaona, Inc.
155 W. Washington Blvd., Suite 1102
Los Angeles, CA 90015
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