Millions of viewers tune into HGTV every week to see what the pros are up to in the worlds of real estate, interior design, landscaping, and curb appeal. So it’s safe to say that when a design project is singled out by the network with an Editors’ Pick award, people pay attention.
That spotlight recently shone on a project by Palm Springs designers Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper of H3K Design. The duo won the Editors’ Pick in the 2017 HGTV Faces of Design Awards in the Curb Appeal category for their redesign of the front yard of a 1963 Charles Dubois–designed midcentury modern home in South Palm Springs.
“Both Kevin and I have been watching HGTV since its inception,” Hawkes says. “To even be nominated was so exciting!”
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When Hawkes and Kemper first saw the property in 2014, it had overgrown vegetation, was clad with iron bars and gates, had dark, tinted windows, and hundreds of medium-size rocks scattered across the yard. “Our biggest challenge was choosing how to edit the design of the renovations to honor the original architecture,” Hawkes says. “The house had previously been painted all one color and right smack in the middle of the front of the house was this amazing stone-clad work; you just couldn’t see it.”
Prior to the H3K Design renovation, the home was obscured by overgrown vegetation had dark, tinted windows, and hundreds of medium-size rocks randomly placed around the yard.
Before and after: Poured-in-place stepping stones and a large grass expanse enliven the yard.
To highlight this feature, they painted the surrounding stucco white and added monochromatic landscaping rocks to the immediate foreground. A large turf expanse was chosen to soften the harder elements of the house such as the stone, stucco, glass, and concrete.
“The boulders in the front yard are the ones we chose to keep from the distracting heap that was there before,” says Hawkes. “Each boulder was thoughtfully placed to invite the eye and add a bit of dimension to the sweep of green turf. If you were to connect the collections of rocks with your eye in a zigzag pattern, it is the opposite of the ‘Y’ of the front steps — this invisible pattern gently intersects with the entry steps. The addition of diagonal lines is a nice complement to the rectilinear nature of the house and driveway and adds a bit of visual interest.”
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Before and After: Iron gates gave off a “Keep Out” vibe and obstructed a beautiful stone-clad wall.
Their biggest inspiration came from the way the house is sited on a gentle knoll, which allows the eye to focus more on the yard and the lines of the house rather than the top of the roof. “We took it a step further by creating a very simple landscape plan that featured large concrete poured-in-place stepping stones that further guide the eye to the facade of the house and the colorful front double doors,” notes Hawkes.
The choice of a tomato-red color for the front doors was inspired by the 1950s and 60s popularity and fascination with Asia and Polynesia. “The red doors [also] create a nice focal point for the somewhat toned down accents of the rest of the house,” says Hawkes.
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As if winning the contest hasn’t been exciting enough, the new H3K Design showroom is going to be the hub for bus tours during the upcoming Modernism Week Fall Preview, Oct. 19–22. The interior of the new H3K Design showroom will contain two different three-quarter-scale model homes with classic desert rooflines — a folded plate and a butterfly.
“You can walk beyond the front doors and be transported to bedrooms, living, and dining rooms and be inspired by the way the furniture will look in its appropriate settings,” Hawkes says. “Browse the various rooms and vignettes and find your way to our pillow boutique and Modern Pet design shop. We are hoping to be greeting local residents as well as visiting modernists all weekend.”
The interior of the new H3K Design showroom will feature two fully furnished three-quarter-scale home facades. Shown here is the interior of the folded plate model home.