The owners of the Slayman Residence have maintained its Late Moderne style.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN CHAVKIN
Design by Steven Keylon and John De La Rosa
The Slayman Residence (named for first owners, Mitchell and Joyce Slayman) was designed by architectural designer Herbert W. Burns and built in 1950. The house is in the Late Moderne style, as are most of Burns’ Palm Springs designs. The exterior is all original, including the steel casement windows. Inside, the master bathroom and kitchen were replaced in the 2000s. When we purchased the house in 2016, we sourced original cabinetry, fixtures, and hardware to restore those spaces.
Our house is the very reason we moved to Palm Springs. We had always loved the work of Herbert Burns, and when we were in town from L.A. and stopped at an open house, we were hooked. His Late Moderne style goes so well with the Late Moderne furniture we have collected since the 1990s, designed by Gilbert Rohde for Herman Miller. It’s a 1940s iteration of modernism, versus the usual post-and-beam modern found in Palm Springs. Rohde’s showrooms for Herman Miller looked very much like Herbert Burns’ interiors, so it’s a perfect fit. Nearly everything is from the Paldao Collection of 1941. So, while the home has a 1950 build date, the interiors lean 1940s.
Late Moderne was popular mostly in the 1940s and is a different type of modernism than post-and-beam style or International style. Some Late Moderne influences were surrealist art and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian work. Burns’ designs are almost instantly recognizable. Bold Arizona sandstone pylons and piers, which organize the architecture. Flat-roofed horizontality. Cantilevered secondary rooflines. Inside, up-lit soffits bathed the interiors with warm, glamorous light.
The home was in livable condition, but we did a faithful restoration. Every detail was considered, starting with matching paint chips to the original paint palette. Our General Electric steel kitchen cabinets came from a house in Beverly Hills. We reconfigured the modular units to fit, paired with a restored 1948 Tappan DeLuxe stove and 1951 Hotpoint refrigerator. Charcoal boomerang Skylark Formica, designed by Raymond Loewy and Associates, dates to the same year as our house and is still made by Formica. For our primary bathroom, we used new old stock fixtures, valves, handles, and Italian tile. The vanity is from Lawrence Welk’s Palm Springs house, where Burns completed the interior architecture. It took years to find the pink American Standard fixtures that the cabinet was built around. Our aluminum-framed, vertical reeded glass shower enclosure was created by the last company still producing them, just as they did in 1950.
While Keylon researched Herbert Burns, he reached out to the architectural designer’s three grandchildren, who had archival material that helped him write a book on Burns. They eventually gifted Keylon with Herbert and Gayle Burns’ portable radio. It had likely been played poolside at their grandfather’s Town and Desert Apartment Hotel (now the Hideaway hotel) in the late 1940s.
Not offered this year (the homeowners are rehabilitating the landscape), the home was on tour in 2019. It was also open for Palm Springs Preservation Foundation’s Herbert Burns Weekend in 2018, timed with the release of Keylon’s book, The Design of Herbert W. Burns (Palm Springs Preservation Society, 2018). As vice president of the foundation, Keylon will participate in two lectures this year.