Designer Patrick Dragonette Discusses Marrakesh Home Makeover

The owner of Dragonette Limited fashions a color-soaked, richly layered lair for clients at Marrakesh Country Club.

November 13, 2023
Story by Jessica Ritz
Dragonette selected welded steel chairs by John Risley from the sculptor’s People series to create a welcoming, whimsical outdoor patio along with patterned tiles, large planters, and a trio of mirrors. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN ARNOLD

“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” Patrick Dragonette says with a laugh, recalling the moment he learned a new client’s favorite color was orange. “That just opened the door.”

This gave the interior designer license to be exuberantly creative and playful when creating a winter retreat for a retired couple at Marrakesh Country Club in Palm Desert. Given that Dragonette himself is a Marrakesh resident, he was perfectly positioned to understand the spaces within the club.

Armando’s Bar

From a patio refresh to textured vignettes in saturated hues.

When two customers of Dragonette’s eponymous El Paseo showroom were considering purchasing a home at Marrakesh, they asked for his take on the community. “I call it the democracy of the pink house,” he says. From the exterior, “everybody’s house ostensibly looks the same, and they’re all about the same size. There’s no bragging rights about the biggest lot.” These factors make for a self-selecting group that’s passionate about the heritage and history of the club, which was developed by Johnny Dawson and designed by the legendary John Elgin Woolf, known for pioneering the Hollywood Regency style.

Dragonette made a convincing case to the showroom visitors. In the process, he was also unwittingly pitching his own services and expertise. When the couple purchased a recently renovated two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath residence, they tapped the designer to infuse the décor with color-forward spirit. “Patrick is very gracious, and he loves Marrakesh,” says one of the pair. “He made us excited about being here.” In addition to a pronounced yet judicious use of orange, the brief included integrating new artworks with their existing collection, plus a few select treasured furnishings and accessories.

“We have these tremendous high ceilings,” Dragonette observes, “so you’re able to get this great verticality everywhere.” Yet the relatively compact footprint — approximately 2,200 square feet — means the scale still feels intimate. The entryway illustrates this dynamic. An accent wall emblazoned in an orange grasscloth from Phillip Jeffries displays a French portrait of a woman that had been in the same family until it came to market. (“I love how elegant her hands are,” Dragonette says.) A vintage Harrison-Van Horn console custom colored in bright blue pops against the orange. A Nimbus Chandelier from Oly Studio above evokes effervescent Champagne bubbles.

Armando’s Bar

Designer and Marrakesh Country Club resident Patrick Dragonette imparts a stylish new life into his clients’ home nearby.

Throughout the other public spaces, Dragonette selected a relatively calming Phillips Jeffries’ gray-hued grasscloth in Navy Nuance to contiguously cover the surfaces. The same grasscloth also envelops the guest suite. “I like continuity where I can have continuity,” he notes.

Chromatic juxtapositions punctuate the living room. A sectional sofa from Misty’s Consignments is newly recovered in a saturated cobalt mohair and paired with a J. Robert Scott by Sally Sirkin Lewis metallic-framed glass cocktail table purchased at auction. A. Rudin wing chairs reupholstered in an intensely patterned fabric by Clarke & Clarke introduce more orange. A pair of William Haines lounge chairs and an ottoman sidle up to sliding doors that open onto a green belt with mature olive trees, supporting the home’s indoor-outdoor flow. The brass and wood shelving system from the Dragonette Limited collection accentuates the room’s height and showcases an eclectic assortment of objects.

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Every room has its own personality. The guest bathroom, bedecked in Omexco’s Joy21 wallpaper in Lapis with skinny mirrors and Roger Thomas sconces, is no exception.

In the dining room, four multicolored op art pieces by Julian Stanczak get their moment against Dragonette’s striped scheme that riffs off the two grasscloths used in the home. A round Karl Springer dining table with a deep edge, dining chairs by Bert England for Johnson Furniture, and a pair of Edward Wormley cabinets cohere beneath a drapey leather chandelier handcrafted in South Africa and sourced from Ngala Trading.

The primary suite is designed “to have its own personality within the walls,” Dragonette explains. At Marrakesh, “the rooms are so commodious. They’re just beautifully proportioned. So yes, you can have a seating area in a bedroom,” he says, referring to a pair of slipper chairs that formerly stood in his own home. He reimagined them for the corner vignette that gets a humorous boost from an antique Max Le Verrier monkey lamp. The sculptural canopy bed frame from Oly designed “in the vein of Diego Giacometti” still has room to breathe and establish a protective presence.

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“I don’t have any problem adding a pop of red,” Dragonette says about the painting composed of densely applied dots by Alex Brown. The artwork at center is by Jesus Leuus, a painter from Mexico City. Open shelving is from Dragonette Limited.

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A roomy sectional forms a living room conversation area with boldly patterned wing chairs and a vintage J. Robert Scott cocktail table.

“We brought the hints of green into this bedroom because everything else is primarily in an orange and blue vocabulary,” Dragonette says. He added Omexco’s moonstone wallpaper that contains a mix of mica chips and lends a subtle shimmer. A lively salon wall holds pieces of the clients’ art collection mixed in with additional works procured for the installation, such as an Alexander Calder print and lacquered panels by artist Bernard Dunand, along with a well-camouflaged Samsung flatscreen TV. The tiger-stripe carpet from Powers Carpet One in Rancho Mirage also appears in the guest room, helping to set a slightly untamed vibe.

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Dorothy Draper’s classic Brazilliance banana leaf wallpaper introduces a lush flourish into the exuberant yet retreat-like bathroom.

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Against a striped grasscloth backdrop, the dining arrangement comprises Bert England chairs and a Karl Springer table, capped by a leather pendant crafted in South Africa for Ngala Trading. Four works by Julian Stanczak are from the clients’ art collection.

While the bathrooms were newly renovated, these spaces provided more fanciful opportunities for Dragonette’s interventions using wall treatments, hardware, lighting, and art. He was particularly eager to make the primary bath “fun and exciting,” so he honed in on the classic Brazilliance banana leaf patterned wallpaper by Dorothy Draper and decided to “splash that fantastic print all over.” An agave-shaped chandelier and the clients’ set of botanical photographs by Karl Blossfeldt complement the loose plant-centric theme, while a vintage mirrored folding screen with Asian-inspired fretwork placed behind the freestanding tub turns the natural light-flooded room into a distinctive lush and jungle-esque lair. As is the case throughout this home, colorful art and sculptural pieces are on display — even on the bathroom vanity.

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Orange and blue in the guest suite pair with a faintly exotic tiger print carpet, also featured in the primary bedroom. Usually seen in white, the throw is a Moroccan wedding blanket in navy.

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A handcrafted tile wall-mounted fountain imported from Morocco is a fitting nod to Marrakesh’s original inspiration.

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At the center of the salon wall in the primary bedroom, Dragonette hid a The Frame TV by Samsung.

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Dragonette’s signature mix of color, texture, and pattern plays out in the primary bedroom, where a Max Le Verrier monkey lamp brightens one corner. Incorporating “hints of green” throughout, he sourced the Christopher Guy bedside tables at auction and reupholstered his own slipper chairs. The Italian faux lapis lazuli desk is from his El Paseo showroom..

Every moment is a bright opportunity for beauty and joy. Dragonette also transformed the front patio with jaunty black and white chevron patterned outdoor tiles, a tiled wall-mounted fountain fittingly imported from Morocco, and large planters. The whimsical human figure-shaped midcentury seating is from noted sculptor John Risley’s People series, made of welded steel. All the better to soak in the atmosphere of Marrakesh’s salmon pink-swathed outdoor areas.

“There’s a crazy colorist in me that loves being able to express things through color, and the energy and excitement that color creates,” Dragonette states. With the right professional know-how and willing co-conspirators along for the ride, “nothing’s really ever too much.”