DeeAnn cCoy and Jackie Thomas flipped Casa Estrella in 2017 but decided to move in rather than sell.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY-MASTERSON
Venture no further than the front door of DeeAnn McCoy and Jackie Thomas’ Indian Canyons home to glean a sense of the longtime couple’s delightful duality. While the interior of the portal is painted in a serious slate gray, its street face features a door lacquered in fuchsia, a lickable shade that entices hummingbirds and Palm Springs Door Tour–goers alike.
“Dee said, ‘There’s no way we’re painting that door pink,’” Thomas recalls of a tense moment during the 2017 renovation of their 5,600-square-foot home, Casa Estrella, a 1975 custom design by celebrated architect Hal Lacy and Hollywood set designer James McNaughton. “I guess some of us like pink — it’s called Pink Dahlia, actually — more than others.”
And, so the dichotomies go at Casa Estrella (so named for the street it sits on). Yet, even in the face of paint-color conflicts and clashes over cost, McCoy (a former advertising executive from Oregon who favors elegant restraint, a self-styled Bruce Wayne of DC Comics fame) and Thomas (a veteran of Nike global marketing and sworn “budget buster” with the fiendish laugh to prove it) manage a healthy equilibrium.
“As someone once said, ‘Behind every door, at every turn, there’s a surprise.’”
“It’s easier to talk about the characteristics of the house than it is to talk about us,” McCoy says. “But as someone once said about our place, ‘Behind every door, at every turn, there’s a surprise.’ I think we’re a surprise.” That quotable someone was Lisa Vossler Smith, executive director of Palm Springs Modernism Week, which featured Casa Estrella as a showcase house in 2018.
As partners in Thomboy Properties Inc. a firm specializing in desert-modern home restorations, the women had planned to flip Casa Estrella, treating it like any of the other 26 projects they’ve completed in Greater Palm Springs over the last decade.
While the stucco exterior of Casa Estrella is indeed painted white (the most practical choice for sunbaked locales), another surprise is the Montauk Black slate floor that the couple selected, which provides a sense of anchoring that befits — gulp — a forever home. “This house made us want to dig in, get comfortable, and stay put,” McCoy says.
Given the homeowners’ art sensibility, the dark base also grounds the colossal abstract canvases, where breathtaking swooshes meet eye-popping punch. “People have asked us, ‘Why is your art so big?’ The simple answer is, ‘Because we have the space,’” McCoy says. “At this scale, the art is so much more dynamic and impactful.”
“This house made us want to dig in, get comfortable, and stay put.”
“It’s like a car accident that you don’t want to look at, but you can’t help it,” Thomas says with a wide grin. “It’s that good.” During these hours, the television’s blue screen — accommodated, by way of some light carpentry, into the original 1970s casework — casts the hypnotic spell on the room, while Savage’s art recedes into the dark.
But that is the exception, not the rule. By and large, the art throughout Casa Estrella inspires passage from space to space, if only to see, as Vossler Smith suggested, what each has in store.
The bold black-and-white brushstrokes of a large-scale painting in the foyer by Balinese artist Suliyat Buamar seem to direct you, like an enthusiastic compass, to other parts of the house. Like the hallway, where a lone female nude by Michele Russo, a 40th birthday present from Thomas to McCoy, underscores the paradoxical nature of Casa Estrella. After all, one critic described the late Portland painter’s work as both “classical and abstract … reserved and confrontational.”
“This particular place had something special that captivated the real-estate mavens.”
The formal living room flaunts a second painting by Buamar. Its ochre tones are reflected in a trio of long-necked glassware and a pair of vintage Stiffel brass table lamps. (Dare we also mention the golden superhero belt on the oversize model of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego, Batman?) Two minimalist chandeliers twinkle above.
But the literal star of the space is the Curtis Jere wall sculpture. Were it not for McCoy and Thomas obligingly parting with another beloved Jere piece in order to ink a deal on one of their flips, this particularly cosmic work may never have taken its rightful place above the mantle. Now it catches the eye as an artistic interpretation of Casa Estrella’s patron celestial bodies.
“I promised Dee we’d find another Jere that we’d love, and we ended up finding the right one,” says Thomas of the fateful finishing touch. “Filling the house with beautiful pieces, art and objects that emote, makes living here such a personal and sensuous experience.” One with two distinctly influential sides.