Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance knew the property in Old Las Palmas could be updated and still reflect the spirit of the legendary interior designer, Arthur Elrod.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LANCE GERBER
Instinct, experience, and a passion for design give Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance the power to see what others might miss. In 2015, they knew the property in Old Las Palmas was special even though it had been sitting on the market for some time. For starters, Arthur Elrod designed it circa 1970. With the right sensitive interventions, they figured, it could be updated and still reflect the spirit of the legendary interior designer.
“We walked in and I [said], ‘This is an amazing floor plan. The volumes are beautiful,’” Sadeghian recalls, pointing to the 14-foot living room ceiling. She could “see what it used to be” and started thinking about “bringing in the glamour.”
Underneath an inappropriate overlay of midcentury modern décor and mismatched renovations, Vance adds, “It had the integrity and the soul.”
For L.A.-based Sadeghian and Vance, the design-build team behind the firm iDGroup, reimagining the home over a year-long construction timeline became an immersion in all things Elrod. After all, they relish major projects. In 2018, they bought the 1952 Cuyama Buckhorn roadside restaurant and 21-room inn on State Route 166 in Santa Barbara County; it has been an exercise in interpreting a very different strain of midcentury California design heritage.
Vance visited Palm Springs often while growing up in L.A. “Even as a kid,” he says, “I was gravitating toward these cool houses.”
Without historic documentation available, Sadeghian and Vance initially followed cues from the house and the era. Soon, they began “falling in love with Elrod and his ways of going about things,” Vance says. They even named the vintage ceramic Afghan hound sculpture, which sits in the entrance like a spiritual sentinel, Arthur.
According to Adele Cygelman, author of Arthur Elrod: Desert Modern Design, the home was the fourth project Elrod completed for clients Edwin and Georgia Heimer.
Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance channeled Elrod to give the house another moment of glory.
It was originally constructed in the 1950s; previous owners W. Conan and Maggie Thornton added an extension, as well as a mosaic by artists Vie and O.E.L. Graves in 1957 that was subsequently removed.
While Sadeghian was smitten with the house’s arrangement, she says, “A lot of the alignments were missing.” In the renovation, they widened doorways to visually connect the private wing and the dining areas. They also opened and brightened the already-altered kitchen, although its discrete physical placement relative to the other public rooms remains quintessentially Elrod.
Generously sized interiors with expanses of glass that face the rebuilt pool and backyard and, most importantly, the sunken bar balance comfort and elegance. The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home is equally suited to daytime pool lounging and evening socializing. Guests wearing dressy attire would feel at home stepping through the dramatic double doors finished with V-patterned wood panels and adorned with Elrod-designed oversized stacked stone and bronze hardware. Proposal for a Monument for Huey Newton, artist Sam Durant’s 2004 bronze homage to the Black Panther Party co-founder, commands a niche by the foyer and offers a powerful conversation piece
“The bar, of course, is the center of attention,” Sadeghian says. “Somehow, we all wind up there.” It functions like the hearth of the house — which makes sense, considering Vance’s family has deep roots in California hospitality. His great-grandfather founded a San Francisco speakeasy that became the Coffee Dan’s restaurant chain, and his grandfather held union leadership roles in the industry.
Glass expanses allow for natural light and dreamy views of the pool.
In the master bedroom and the entry , design elements punctuate a variety of structural textures, including wood panels and concrete block.
“It told us what to do,” Vance says of reviving this particular feature. They removed “oddball walls” and a passage into the kitchen, installing mirrors and proper shelving in their place, along with new lighting and a polished black stone bar top with inlaid brass details. Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin Roxy Would tan leather swivel chairs add to its attraction. (The fully stocked shelves and top-notch barware help, too.)
Sadeghian and Vance selected a chic, if almost comically impractical, off-white pile carpet with a sexy sheen to replace a charcoal gray swath. The material itself wasn’t original, but Elrod’s move to integrate soft floor covering into the living room seating area was his touch. A long curved vintage sofa of unknown provenance echoes the look of the Prentice Company piece in the nearby Elrod Escape. The appropriately scaled cascading brass chandelier from A La Mod illuminates other furnishings, which include a set of Adrian Pearsall chairs and blue velvet tufted poufs. Two moody original paintings by French artist Régis Bouvier de Cachard mark the transition from the foyer into the living room; a third de Cachard work that once hung in Frank Sinatra’s office hangs above the sofa.
A long vintage sofa, Adrian Pearsall chairs, blue velvet tufted poufs, and moody paintings by Régis Bouvier de Cachard recall the Elrod era.
Other notable art includes photographs by conceptual artist Mike Kelley in the corridor leading to the main suite. Located off this hallway is the guest powder room, where Sadeghian had fun taking creative license to channel Elrod. A chinoiserie floral wallpaper print from Astec in Van Nuys and cylindrical shaped cut crystal and bronze chandeliers from Antique Galleries of Palm Springs distill Elrodian maximalism in the compact space. The den, a product of the 1950s addition, was reconfigured as a luxurious bedroom-bathroom-office suite with an original Elrod chair.
Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance named the vintage Afghan hound sculpture Arthur, after Elrod.
The house is well suited for lounging by the pool by day and night.
All the while, the architecture and interiors continuously reveal their intrinsic artistry. The internal light wells and planters Elrod designed between the west-facing exterior breeze-block walls and the house creates stunning shadow play, especially in the afternoons. It’s during this time that Sadeghian pulls out her phone to snap a pic before asking herself, “Why am I taking a picture?” It’s because this home isn’t only perfect for entertaining. It dazzles on its own.
They made the bar the center of attention.
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