6 Dream Houses

THE $10-MILLION VIEW - Working with an elevated site on almost two acres in the middle of Bighorn Golf Club, architect Kristi Hanson created a design that takes advantage of 360-degree views of its Palm Desert surrounding.

As the housing market started to rebound in the past year, the Coachella Valley saw rising prices and declining inventory — from small starter houses to multimillion-dollar estates. At the top of the market, buyers who sat out the past few years regained their appetite for sun and the panache of having a home in the desert.

With this in mind, Palm Springs Life asked the Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors to help us identify sales of residences that would rise to the top in any market. From that extensive list, we chose those that merit the distinction of being “superlative” in one of six categories. Each of them is in a private community, and their architecture ranges from traditional to cutting-edge contemporary. Their common denominator is the level of excellence.

Working with an elevated site on almost two acres in the middle of Bighorn Golf Club, architect Kristi Hanson created a design that takes advantage of 360-degree views of its Palm Desert surrounding. Native landscaping, quartzite embedded with fossils, a floor plan that positions the main living area to look out on an outdoor living room with a fireplace, and an infinity pool all propel to the “wow” factor. “Some places make a strong architectural statement, but are more showpieces than livable homes. This is both,” says listing agent Jacquie Burns. “The buyers wanted strong architecture in a home that is warm and livable, and they looked at several properties in the valley. When they walked in here, they knew at once that they were home. They said the view would become their own personal ‘artwork.’ Now, they seldom leave the club. When they aren’t enjoying cocktails on the patio, they’re dining at the restaurant here, playing golf, or hanging out with friends.”
$10 million
8,361 square feet
5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

When this Old World-style mansion in Bighorn Golf Club first sold, it set a price record in the Coachella Valley. Last year, it sold in one month and became the highest-priced sale of 2012. Architect Juan Carlos Ochoa designed it with a nod to old European monasteries, where gates or passages separate living spaces, each with a different feeling and use. The master suite has its own wing, and a two-level guest wing is at the opposite end of the home. In the middle are a kitchen, family room, and a lower level — with an elevator and stairs — that opens to the pool and its waterfalls. It also contains a movie theater, lounge, and wine cellar. A separate guesthouse beyond the waterfall offers another private space. Red tiled roofs, tumbling bougainvillea, boulder-strewn landscaping, and knockout views complete the picture.
$12.3 million
12,248 square feet
7 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms

A second home for a couple whose primary residence is in Hillsborough, California, this custom Madison Club residence was built in 2010. Its luxurious country vibe features an expansive, stone-tiled entry that leads to an almost-seamless indoor-outdoor living space. Inside, the great room’s electronic walls glide open to a stylized stream and two patios: the front with fire pits, several seating areas, and a big-screen TV and the rear with a barbecue area, fireplace, another TV, lounging and dining areas, and outdoor heating. Venetian plaster walls, wood and stone floors, beamed and carved wood ceilings, and more stone on accent walls and fireplaces echo the colors and textures of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Stone walls enclose a wine room adjacent to the dining room. A two-tiered theater with plush seating, projection screen, and surround-sound, as well as a large office and three bedrooms can open or close to create multiple configurations.
$7.375 million
7,237 square feet
5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms

Dramatically angled rooflines and an interior that uses skylights, clerestory windows, and varied ceiling heights to create strong contrasts make this Mirada residence a top exemplar of Guy Dreier design. Dreier is known for creating homes that appeal to buyers who want arresting, unconventional structures and interiors that live up to the exterior promise. His signature entry boasts stone, rock, water features, and walls of glass. A living room, family room, dining room, and kitchen cluster around a towering four-way fireplace, and more walls of glass open to two outdoor living areas — one with a stone terrace overlooking the negative-edge pool and another with a fire pit. Listing agent Valery Neuman says the buyers “fell in love” with the architecture and the cohesive feeling created by Dreier’s master design of interior and exterior finishes and furnishings. “They were looking for a beautiful contemporary home, and this fit their wish list perfectly.”
$3.295 million
6,782 square feet
3 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms

Calgary residents who spent the past five winters at Toscana Country Club, the owners chose the largest home in the community and opted for a detached guesthouse to accommodate visits from their adult children. Taking its style cues from the California mission era, the home wraps around a large courtyard and a side yard with a pool and spa, waterfalls, a barbecue area, and entertainment spaces. Traditional touches include stone fireplaces, wood and stone floors, crown moldings, beamed ceilings, and liberal use of granite and tile. The elevated home site provides clear views of the San Jacinto Mountains to the west. The owners love to entertain, hosting frequent dinner parties and celebrations, and say, “For us, the big ‘wow’ factors were the great views and the expansive outdoor entertainment area. Plus, the self-contained casita is roomy enough for visiting family and friends. They can enjoy space and privacy and also be a part of the household.”
$2.9 million
5,433 square feet
4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

A slick, contemporary House with a low profile and a high regard for sustainability, this Mirada residence is just waiting for interior designer John Wooden’s custom furnishings to bring it to completion. A “net-zero home,” it minimizes power use and maximizes a location overlooking the Coachella Valley and backed by the Santa Rosa Mountains wilderness. The goal of net zero, which includes solar power, is to reduce or eliminate the use of traditional energy sources without compromising amenities. Sun-tracking architecture maximizes the solar system. High R-value insulation and low-E glass, LED lighting, and next-generation HVAC controlled by NEST thermostats support efficiency so that solar can generate almost all power required. “The homeowner is thrilled with the views of the city lights and the mountains,” says listing agent Brenda Scott. “The fact that the home was built to net-zero standards and used environmentally responsible materials was a deciding factor in their purchase.”
$3.2 million
5,684 square feet
5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms

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