Almost SoHo

A Rancho Mirage estate takes its kid-friendly cues from the big city.

Photography by Ethan Kaminsky

Simply put, Troy Zimmerman's design philosophy emphasizes giving clients what they want. To deliver the dream of these Mission Hills homeowners, he conceived a striking triptych of contemporary design that defies labeling — sort of metropolitan meets desert casual, with a measure of whimsy and utility for the family’s young ones.

At the front of the 5,000-square-foot house, a pivoting 6x10-foot steel and glass gate leads into a grassy courtyard, also accessible through sliding doors off the children’s wing and providing a spacious and secure play area. The front entry — a variation of the gate — opens to a lofty great room that combines living, dining, kitchen, bar, and game-table space. On the opposite wall, floor-to-ceiling glass offers breathtaking views of the golf course and Mount San Jacinto.

Zimmerman used subtle architectural variations in the gathering spaces with a primary color scheme of olive green and taupe. He also designed and built several custom pieces to complement the owner’s art and antique collection. A ceiling of planked wood with a taupe stain enhances the loft-like space, while flooring of durable tan porcelain, made to look like stained concrete, extends out to the pool and spa deck.

Zimmerman incorporated a casual yet refined sensibility throughout, selecting matte finishes and materials, punctuated with points of dramatic interest. In the kitchen, a flamed granite counter underscores riffed white oak cabinetry with a river-rock backsplash. For the adjacent breakfast table, metalsmith Lavern Carroll welded the owner’s silverware collection to create an unusual and exquisite base. For the bar, Carroll fabricated a blackened steel face with hand-hammered studs, an ideal complement to the owners’ favored set of olive green, ultrasuede Dakota Jackson chairs.

A concrete fireplace with black absolute flamed granite elevates the great room’s allure. Zimmerman added a bracketless shelf for a “floating” look, shattered glass in the custom elongated masonry firebox, and flanking cabinets with inlaid grain for visual impact. For the living and media area, he designed a large sectional in soft Glant chenille and a Zen-inspired sofa-back table. A massive Mimi London coffee table, A. Rudin chairs, petrified-wood side table, and media center of quartered walnut augment the casually chic setting.

In the dining room, William Wegman art and Zen-inspired window treatments surround a custom Berman Rosetti expandable table and antique Chinese credenza. A striking, rectangular suspended light fixture the owner acquired in Manhattan imbues a spectacular nighttime glow.

Thematic design elements characterize the five bedrooms. One guest room with adjoining bath offers a “contemporary take on hacienda style,” sporting a custom-woven rattan headboard, sycamore cabinetry, flamed and tumbled marble, antiques, and walls covered in sienna-hued, handmade paper.

Bed and bath design elements include travertine flooring, exotic Wenge wood cabinetry, tumbled and flamed marble, mosaic accents, and, in the master bath, a cork ceiling with metallic glaze to minimize sound from hard surfaces.

The one area where Zimmerman and his client deviated from the overall subtle approach is the children’s wing, designed to cater to four active grandchildren. A combination of whimsy and function, the bathroom features a spunky red-and-white dot theme that even extends to the colorful Fantini faucets. Replaceable Flor tiles line the playroom, bunk beds have individual reading lights, and oversized closets accommodate cribs and diaper-changing stations.

“All in all, what I’ve heard from my clients,” Zimmerman says, “is that every area in the home is a hit."

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