Seamlessly merging the warmth of the desert with the tranquility of a Japanese garden, this airy La Quinta residence exemplifies modern architecture that respects and incorporates elements of nature. The serene retreat, with its interior garden courtyards, nestles amid enormous, custom-placed boulders and lush pepper berry trees, cutting a sleek profile against the jagged backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains yet effortlessly blending with land and vista.
Completed in 2015, the 6,500-square-foot single-story home at The Madison Club is the creation of Los Angeles–based Marmol Radziner, a design-build practice renowned for its important work on Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the Ship of the Desert (designed by Earle Webster and Adrian Wilson), and the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, (designed by E. Stewart Williams).
“The La Quinta residence is a continuation of Marmol Radziner’s exploration of the relationship between architecture and nature — how to blend living spaces into their natural surroundings,” says Ron Radziner, the firm’s design principal. He cites the home’s mountain and golf course views as favored elements, as well as the way the architecture, “through its form and material palette, integrates with the landscape.”
Marmol Radziner used a bright material palette — limestone floors, lots of glass, and soaring, bleached-teak ceilings — to create a tranquil retreat for the homeowners, who travel with their beloved yellow Lab and split their time between the desert and their primary residence in Woody Creek, Colorado, near Aspen. Originally from Chicago, where they worked in the wine and spirits industry, the pair chose La Quinta for the warm winters and The Madison Club in particular for its Tom Fazio–designed golf course and low-key vibe.
“The La Quinta residence is a continuation of Marmol Radziner’s exploration of the relationship between architecture and nature — how to blend living spaces into their natural surroundings.”
The home exudes Zen inside and out. Using a Japanese temple garden as inspiration, Madderlake Designs handled the landscaping for what was essentially a blank natural canvas. They excavated enormous boulders from a remote ranch west of the Coachella Valley, mapping their relative placement before hauling them to the build site. There, Madderlake painstakingly reassembled the boulder groupings — even lowering them through holes in the roof to the home’s four interior courtyards — to mimic the original arrangements. The resulting effect makes it appear as though the home was built around pre-existing outcroppings.
Inside the residence (although it’s difficult to truly delineate indoor and outdoor spaces, which is the intention), the home features a polished master suite and a guest bedroom in the main house, plus an open-concept, art-filled great room that encompasses the kitchen, dining room, living room, and bar.
A stylish guesthouse offers two bedrooms and more living space. All four of the bedrooms open onto atrium courtyards featuring plantings and boulder arrangements. The homeowners are animal lovers, so the design incorporated a special door and gated enclosure for dogs, complete with fire hydrant, on the southwest edge of the property.
“This couple wanted to have ample space for entertaining family and friends, walls for their art collection, views of the surroundings, and access to these surroundings
from the main living areas.”
A 16-foot-wide Michael Chow abstract anchors the airy, open-concept great room, which includes the living room, bar, kitchen, and dining room.
Artist John Lyle’s Vestal Screen doubles as art and rustic room divider behind the bar.
Designing the home’s décor and working closely with Radziner and managing principal Leo Marmol was a delight, says Sophie Harvey, the home’s Aspen-based interior designer, who is also an architect. “What’s so special about this house is the way that Marmol Radziner placed it on the lot to capture the views,” she adds. “The light in the house is magical.”
Harvey traveled with the homeowners to showrooms in New York and Paris, as well as London’s Pavilion of Art+Design and its famed antique shops along Pimlico Road, to secure every piece. “It became a very collaborative process, which they loved,” Harvey says.
At the heart of the home’s style is its hand-selected art. “She’s really into art,” Harvey shares of the homeowner, who once spotted a Jenny Holzer bench at Harvey’s New York apartment and vowed to acquire one of her own someday. True to her word, as they began building the home in 2012, the homeowner worked with galleries in New York to secure the Jenny Holzer marble bench that now graces the entryway.
The chunky, three-dimensional Michael Chow abstract, purchased early on specifically for the desert house, spans 16 feet. It’s so large, in fact, that Marmol Radziner had to extend the wall in the living room to accommodate it, Harvey says.
“What’s so special about this house is the way that Marmol Radziner placed it on the lot to
capture the views.
The light in the house is magical.”
A three-dimensional abstract from artist Chun Kwang Young complements the sleek dining area.
Clerestory windows accentuate the home’s light-colored palette, limestone floors, and bleached-teak ceilings.
She also recalls art shopping with the homeowner and bumping into Beverly Hills art gallery owner Timothy Yarger at an art show in Palm Springs. The doors had just closed, so he snuck them into the back where she promptly fell in love with the Sam Francis piece that now hangs over the master bedroom fireplace. Yarger, in turn, introduced them to artist Phillip K. Smith III, whose mirror and light wall sculpture runs the length of the glassed-in hallway/walkway that leads to the guest quarters.
“The homeowner spent time with him at his studio,” Harvey says. “And he came and saw the house. The piece is very site-specific. They’re in the desert, and he’s in the desert; it was a perfect fit.”
Three years after the home’s completion, Harvey feels like the team accomplished its goal of creating the ideal desert sanctuary. “The only request the homeowners had is that the home feels very comfortable and livable, and that it was quiet,” she says. “We definitely hit those points. It’s sublimely subdued but still elegant,” rather like nature itself.
“The only request the homeowners had is that the home feels very comfortable and livable and that it was quiet.
We definitely hit those points.
It’s sublimely subdued but still elegant.”
The tranquil master retreat features a Sam Francis painting above the fireplace and an atrium courtyard that blends indoor and outdoor space.
Lit by skylights and featuring a long, low niche, this sunny alcove fluidly joins a double shower and a freestanding bathtub.