Book Your Stay at This Geodome in Palm Desert

The outlier architecture of the Perch rental is more High Desert than Palm Desert, adding another layer of appeal.

June 15, 2024
Perch rental in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY STAYTRAVLR.COM, PHOTO BY DANE DEANER

Golf balls are a common sight in Palm Desert, but not atop the rocks and peaks of Cahuilla Hills.

For years, a geodesic home had fascinated current owners Jen and Spencer Wampole, founders of Travlr Vacation Homes. “It used to be painted white, so it looked like this little golf ball up in the hills,” Jen says. “We manage a handful of other properties in the neighborhood, and we always had our eye on this one because it was so unique.”

Built in 1977, the house had been renovated prior to their ownership, “but we tried to re-imagine it a bit more,” she says. They spent three years implementing a plan to turn the open-concept studio home once used by an artist into a five-bedroom, four-bathroom getaway designed for fun and chilling out in hillside privacy.

Geodesic homes, or “geodomes,” are known for their strength and stability amid high winds and earthquakes. Some also boast supreme energy efficiency. The aesthetics mean more to guests, and Perch is a classic example of an intriguing shapely exterior giving way to a naturally bright, sun-washed interior.

The rental home features triangular skylights.
PHOTO BY AIM MEDIA GROUP

The couple painted their golf ball black — using Thermo-Shield paint to reduce solar heat gain — yet the home remains an anomaly. “The views drew us in and the rock formations that completely surround one side,” Jen says. “You feel so isolated, and you get that Joshua Tree vibe, almost like you’re camping, and then you’re 5 minutes to El Paseo and all the shopping and dining of Palm Desert at your fingertips.”

Beyond the black façade, these elements round out the geodome experience.

OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS

In its sophisticated black cloak, the dome’s geodesic shape makes a strong contrast against the untamed setting. Scattered around the dome, alfresco amenities positioned for supersize views across the property’s acre of rocky landscape offer vast “lifestyle space” if not living space. Guests can spread out on the pickleball court, play pingpong while they catch a few rays on their shoulders, watch the sun slip behind the mountains from the hammock garden, and light the fire pit before sitting down for a meal under the outdoor dining pavilion complete with two swing chairs and seating for 10. Dips in the 40-foot-long swimming pool and the adjoining spa, set to a custom soundtrack on the indoor-outdoor sound system, make Perch a nest with 24/7 possibilities.

TRIANGULAR SKYLIGHTS

Inside the dome, the architecture instills a striking awareness of its unusual shape, but not at the expense of shutting out the world. “One of my favorite things about the triangle windows is that they perfectly frame the palm trees that are right outside,” Jen says. “You never forget where you are, because when you look up and see those Washingtonia palms, you know you’re in the desert.”

DETACHED MINI DOME

Who uses a cute, mini-me dome for storage? The previous owner did, but the new owners pictured vacationing guests ducking into this special bonus space for cloud-watching, napping, daydreaming, or counting shooting stars after dark. They insulated it and cut in a gigantic window to encompass one side. “At night, you see the cars along Highway 74 and they look like little twinkle lights going up the mountain.”

Detached mini dome.

Detached mini dome.
PHOTO BY AIM MEDIA GROUP

PHOTO BY DANE DEANER

SOFT, NEUTRAL INTERIORS

The interior of a geodesic structure should establish order and infuse calm, easing the continuous triangle motif that composes its enveloping shell. Designer Paula Oblen collaborated with the owners to maximize space with organic style, bathing the rooms in cloudy whites, sandy tans, desert terra cottas, and just enough swipes of modern black to keep it interesting. Natural fibers like cotton and linen ground each environment and stitch the spaces together.

YOGA-MEDITATION LOFT

In reconfiguring the former open studio floor plan to incorporate a series of bedrooms, another idea took shape: a loft that floats above them. The dedicated yoga zone features a subtle mural of the mountains by a local artist and a set of ethereal sound bowls. “The property itself has such a Zen feel. You cannot help but feel relaxed and one with your surroundings when you’re there,” she says. “You can sit up in the loft and do your sound meditation, and it carries over the whole dome in this gorgeous sound that just keeps ringing.”

PHOTO BY AIM MEDIA GROUP