The private nature of country club life affords scarce opportunities for sneak peeks at new builds and the au courant choices within. At Bighorn Golf Club, a team that has worked together for a decade has documented its latest collaboration: a home that intrigues on the exterior and soothes once inside. Their client wishes to remain unnamed, but the photogenic tour alludes to where architecture and design appear headed behind the gates.
Amid a natural desertscape, the 9,800-square-foot home fans across a mountainside lot. Its simple geometric forms and linear steel rooflines nearly graze a mountain outcropping that tumbles in a rocky silhouette down to the property’s edge. A sliver of Palm Desert air moves between the ancient land and one of the community’s latest homes.
“We wanted to create a really comfortable place to relax and recharge.”
“It is all about the way the house connects to the site.”
“The relationship of the living spaces creates privacy where you want it.”
Colossal picture windows and walls of floor-to-ceiling glass leave limited real estate for paintings traditionally curated to introduce energy, texture, and color. In their place? Area rugs scatter their patterns in a striking resemblance to the many veined and marbled surfaces. A mix of modern woods stretch across the ceilings and cabinetry. And statement sculptures create the first of three layers when viewed against the glass and the framed scenery outdoors.
Those ubiquitous pops of color are relegated to the spine of a book or the flames flickering across the length of a fireplace. “In a departure from the usual material palette you see in the desert, the materials are quieter with subtle shifts of color and lights and darks,” Lucas says. This technique leaves a clean-lined, modern cocoon of neutral tones. Steel gray, charcoal, taupe, and ivories are in harmony with the basalt brick installed vertically on the fireplace wall.
The experiential focal point of the central gathering space is a wine bar and its glass vault, safe-keeping bottles in repose. Defined but not confined, the kitchen, dining, and living areas revolve in a social semicircle around it.
“The relationship of the living spaces creates privacy where you want it,” Hayer says. Clustering the areas while keeping them open “is all about family; it just flows. The floor plan is just as comfortable for a family of four as it is for a party of 40, and that’s always a challenge.”
In the kitchen, a popped-up ceiling and a bank of clerestory windows emphasize the drop of the pendant lamps above the island. A solid walnut slab over its honed marble mass warms elbows and ambiance for those who pull up a tawny leather stool. Upper cabinets in rift white oak hopscotch over two windows and the marble-slab backsplash.
Tucked behind the great room, a theater room off the main entry is scaled down to cozy proportions and an office faces the pool and the mountains as part of the main bedroom wing.
“We wanted to create an inviting home that feels like a really comfortable place to relax and recharge,” David notes. “It was a requirement that it feel high-quality without feeling pretentious. A true luxury experience doesn’t need to hit you over the head.”
Off the main bedroom, a patio calls for a first cup of coffee or a last sip of wine, facing one of the stone walls along the perimeter. The hand-placed stones lend a soft touch to this personal retreat, diffusing the predominantly modern mindset. Wander a few steps to the right and the spa will bubble the day’s cares away.
The spa adjoins the pool, whose arc follows the same sweeping line of the covered lanai. Feet away, a row of sun loungers wait for another unfettered Bighorn sunset. “The water feature spilling into the pool creates a lot of movement in the water especially at night when the lighting moves all over the house,” Hayer says. “It’s a dramatic look” that entices more indoor-outdoor living after dark.
The art collection, curated by Leisa Austin of Imago Galleries, “offers a dynamic, eclectic mix of sculpture and paintings, both small and large in scale” to complement the furnishings, says Suzie Lucas, as well as the strong bones of the home.
A self-contained two-bedroom guesthouse finishes the five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath estate. Nestled among the natural rock hillside, guests find a luxe living area, their own media room, a secluded patio, and two fully appointed guest rooms linked to private courtyard access.
With homes completed and in progress at Bighorn, The Vintage Club, and The Madison Club, Ryan Hill, president of Hill Construction Company, holds this residence up as a “stunning desert masterpiece.” “Previously partnering with the Hayer-Lucas team on multiple projects has allowed us to know each other on both a personal and professional level,” he says. “This type of synergy always ensures a fantastic project.”
Especially, as Hayer adds, when “We all have a similar aesthetic and just build on each other.” Even if few people other than the client ever glimpse the end product, such original designs advance a club’s yen for fresh new builds and propel the imaginations of design teams to come.
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