When La Jolla residents Patsy and David Marino decided to slip a second home into their family’s active lifestyle, they fell instantly for a Charles Du Bois-designed estate in Vista Las Palmas.
The owners finessed most of the interior design for the 2,800-square-foot home themselves with some collaborative help in executing their vision from Sharon Kiss, ASID, of Ambiance Interiors. Contemporary art collectors and supporters for two decades, the Marinos are partial to color — and lots of it. Their spacious, family-minded spaces introduce pattern to print, wallpaper to tile. Both of them are native to Southern California and the influence feels genuine, as does their devotion to decorating per the era.
Palm Springs may not have been an obvious choice for a couple with kids. But their two teens have grown to appreciate their home away from the beach. How does Patsy know? “Teenagers never humor their parents,” she says. The affection is real. Here, she explains the couple’s decisions inside and out.
The living room, where vintage furnishings were sourced largely on 1stdibs.com, looks out the pool. An Edward Wormley for Dunbar sofa the couple recovered in contemporary fabric faces a Vladimir Kagan Snail Table and an Eames lounge chair sits atop a zebra rug. Custom fireplace screen from Modernway.
What brought you to Palm Springs?
We both spent a lot of time in the desert growing up. We were out visiting family and we started having a conversation that went, “Why aren’t we buying a house out here?” We had been anti second home; we knew people who had them, but we didn’t want the maintenance and responsibility. Somehow, owning one we could reach in two hours door-to-door felt different.
What were your non-negotiables?
We wanted a corner lot, a view, and a large outdoor entertaining space. We started looking in neighborhoods we had liked on home tours. Choosing a home designed by an important architect was definitely a factor. We own a historic home in La Jolla, architected by Edgar Ulrich from 1929. So, we are connected to the importance and responsibility of maintaining these types of homes. This was the first of six homes we saw. We knew when we walked in that we were going to buy it.
FroArtwork features prominently around a 1960 dining table by George Nakashima. Gold wall sculpture by artist Thomas Glassford; blown glass by artist Joe Cariati; chandelier made with glass callalilies by artist John Pomp.
The remodeled kitchen by H3K Design complements pottery by La Jolla artist Joe Skoby
What stood out about it?
First, it had three bedrooms in the main house and a casita with a full bath plus one “bonus room,” which we turned into a home gym. The interior had been remodeled by H3K Design with custom applications a couple years prior. We knew we could fine-tune the exterior and landscape into something we loved.
Where did you begin adding your own touch?
By shopping in our own house. In 20 years, you collect a lot of stuff. We have a collection of over 100 artworks, so we started looking at which pieces we wanted to come back into our everyday lives. The home also gave us the opportunity to buy a few pieces we hadn’t had the capacity for. Our next stop was 1stdibs.com because we wanted to buy period pieces by important designers of the time — such as Vladimir Kagan, Isamu Noguchi — that had been maintained or recovered. We didn’t want to put today’s furniture in a house from 1958. We wanted it to feel consistent with the home, as well as the scale. With few exceptions, they are all late 1950s and early ’60s. We love color and pattern, so that was another important aspect. And we have embraced out inner wallpaper friend.
Was there much to do on the exterior?
Landscape designer William Kopelk had worked with the previous owner. We took the best of what he created that worked for us and took it in a new direction. One of the things he did well was build this poolside raised deck, where we have added a fire pit and conversation area. It has a magnificent view of the mountains, which makes it a glorious place to have coffee in the morning or to sit in the evening with an adult beverage when the sky is changing. He situated it beautifully; it is my favorite place on the property. We worked with Sean Lockyer (of Studio AR&D Architects) on the landscape to remodel both soft and hardscape. I love his work, and I think he is doing wonderful things in the region.
What makes your home family-friendly?
We activated the outdoor space. Being active and playing games is a big part of our lives. Originally, a lengthy concrete area was a shuffle ball court. We’re big bocce ball players at the beach in San Diego, and we thought about building a court at our place in La Jolla. This happened to be the exact dimensions for a regulation court. We built a space for outdoor dining and a kitchen, put a foosball table in the breezeway, and stacked our linen closet to the rafters with games and puzzles. The pool was already a main feature of the house. These are the things that give your life so much quality.
How do you use the home?
We find ourselves out there at least twice as much as we anticipated. We expected we would visit an average of once a month and use it primarily as a family escape. We not only love the house but also the natural environment, the architecture, and the people we have met. So we yearn to get out here on a regular basis.
Do the kids enjoy Palm Springs?
Our daughter is a senior, and she has realized that it would be a cool place to bring friends. This will be the first year she attends Coachella, so, all of a sudden, it’s more interesting to her. Our son loves it as a quiet place to read and get off the hamster wheel of teenage life. It’s a place to sleep in and to rest or ride his bike. They have each embraced it.
The Marinos collect photography by artist Lee Materazzi, and found the perfect place for one of her framed works in this cozy, pattern-happy corner of the master bedroom. Period furnishings, including the Selig Danish bentwood rosewood and chrome chair, lamp, side table, and gentleman’s cabinet are all from 1stdibs.com.
Custom pillows and the mural in son Tate’s room are by local artist Marie Jenkinson, who was referred by designer Sharon Kiss. Tate became attached to an identical chair originally in the home when they toured it. The Marinos spent six months sourcing another to surprise him. Multiple patterns of tile by Clé cover every inch of the powder room.
How has the area adapted to your lifestyle?
When we started to regularly come to Palm Springs, our kids were quite young. Sometimes you’re in wave-pool-and-waterslide time and sometimes you’re in the art-and-architecture-and-cocktails time. As our kids became teenagers, we left that first chapter behind. We ride our bikes together through the neighborhoods to appreciate the various styles of architecture, and we visit the Palm Springs Art Museum, Desert X, High Desert Test Sites, etc. It’s a different stage of life now; we can expose them to the ever-burgeoning culture of the desert.
And you are involved with the community?
Our interest is in contemporary art. I’m on the selection committee for Murals of La Jolla, and we’ve been collecting together for 20 years while supporting museums and public art. Part of what drew us here was the art. We’re drawn to supporting the art community both in the Coachella Valley and the High Desert. I’ve gotten involved with a small group of collectors in putting together a foundation to support early- and mid-career artists who are making their studios in the High Desert. We’ve met some fabulous and interesting people in Palm Springs, which is one of the things that has been fantastic. It’s a place people choose in a very intentional way. It draws people from all parts of county and the world who have shared values and interests and are doing fascinating things.
Enveloped by layers of landscape for ambiance and privacy, the backyard provides various areas to lounge or socialize. From left, the oversized pair of outdoor egg chairs are from Target, the custom umbrella is by Santa Barbara Umbrella Company, and the custom fire pit and furniture on the patio platform are by Studio AR&D Architects.
Drawn to the local and regional art community, Patsy and David Marino didn’t miss the chance to add a prominent piece on their property.
Set in one corner, this colorful work by artist Marco Ramirez resembles a directional street sign. The couple’s art adviser Linda Forsha helped commission it, as well as purchase several other meaningful works for the home.
“The artist has done a number of signs, most in public museum collections, and he allows the commissioner to choose the general subject,” Patsy explains. “David and
I gave it to each other as an anniversary gift, so our theme was love.”
Once they provided three love-inspired locales, Ramirez chose quotes from well-known figures with a connection to those places, all of which pertain to love.
“We intended for everyone to enjoy it,” Patsy adds. “It is clearly an artwork, not to be confused with city signs.”