In his 15+ years in the Coachella Valley, Christopher Kennedy and his Showcase Home events have created quite a stir during Modernism Week, attracting large crowds and raising significant money to the event’s education and preservation efforts.
Among the thousands who have toured his renovation successes with the help of many talented designers was a Santa Monica couple in 2019 who inherited a Palm Springs home in the Indian Canyons neighborhood. Kennedy is quite familiar with the area having lived there and tackled several home renovation projects of those post-1950s midcentury modern residences.
The couple expressed an interest in giving the home a makeover, and Kennedy has turned the project into a YouTube video series that allows the viewer to see firsthand the restoration work, the behind-the-scenes discussions, and Kennedy’s choices for cabinetry, tile, fabrics, furniture and much more. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and not knowing if there will be an opportunity for people to see the finished home in person, a video series made sense.
He’s coined the project, The Divine Du Bois, after the home’s architect, Charles Du Bois, who may be best known for the A-frame roofline houses in Palm Springs, also called “Swiss Misses”, and the tract homes he designed for the Alexander Construction Co.
Kennedy chatted with Palm Springs Life about this new endeavor that coincides with an upgrade to his website in light of more people shopping online during the pandemic.
What is it about the Indian Canyons neighborhood that intrigues you?
It's my favorite neighborhood to live in. I think what is appealing about it is that the houses are larger, more gracious. So the average person buying a second home or retiring, and buying a main home in Palm Springs, they need a bit more space. So I think the size is popular, I think the golf course and the views are popular. Of course the front doors are popular as you know, it's very photogenic, it's very walkable. Yeah, it's just a nice neighborhood.
Why a video series?
We already had some sponsors brought on, and I just thought with the new COVID world, let's just bring this to the people. We're going to take people into my studio and show us making decisions, show us presenting to the client and then, of course, we'll do a walk through at the end. And probably each room will get its own episode and then I'll follow up on them in a blog with our beautiful photography. And on my Instagram with our gorgeous after photos that we're known for. I think we’re going to do at least a dozen episodes.
"So I think he (Charles Du Bois) just did some wonderful signature elements that you didn't see with the other architects who we do love and know in Palm Springs."
— Christopher Kennedy
In the initial video, you make a point of saying that the midcentury homes were not necessarily designed for year-round living. Why is that important to the viewer?
The video is being viewed nationally and internationally, so that point may not be obvious to them compared to those who live here. I want the average viewer to know that these homes were designed as second homes and so that some of the views of function perhaps weren't considered 50 or 60 years ago. And as we're doing it for today, we're making adaptations for either someone using the home full-time or using the home more frequently than it was designed for back in the mid-century.
Have you worked on a Charles Du Bois home before? What should we appreciate about his designs?
This is my third time working with a Charles Du Bois. Just last year, we did a wonderful Charles Du Bois condo in Canyon Estates. Du Bois, I think, is finally getting his day in the sun and the fact that he was just working perhaps 10 years later than Donald Wexler and William Krisel, the homes are a bit more gracious and had a double-door entry. I love the integration of the stone inside and out, that's a common feature. So I think he just did some wonderful signature elements that you didn't see with the other architects who we do love and know in Palm Springs.
What kind of timeline do you have for the house?
Construction was shut down because remodeling in Palm Springs, with a few exceptions, was shut down for April and May. Now that it's allowed again, we’re moving forward over the summer. So, cabinetry is going in and we're going to be picking countertops. Construction should finish probably within six to eight weeks. So we'll be installing our furniture, I would say in September.
Christopher Kennedy caught on camera during filming of his first episode.
So the home will finish with the homeowners to come and enjoy for the fall season. And that's what we'll be filming. So we expect to debut the big reveal in the video this fall.
How have you handled the pandemic?
We've had a little extra time to think about the big picture, to improve processes. My website has been completely redone to give us robust online shopping. I think we have improved our already good client communication processes. And now, all we can do is pivot and evolve so I'm thrilled for my evolution.
For more on Christopher Kennedy, visit christopherkennedy.com.
VIDEO: View the first episode of The Divine Du Bois.