Select black accents break up the ivory tones and other neutrals in the living area. Mammoth stool, sofa from DellaRobia, wall unit from Nuovo, and Pilot Chairs from Knoll are all from Modern Hacienda.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LANCE GERBER
By the time this late-1960s condo changed hands to its current homeowner, he wasn’t sure he wanted to hang onto it. The Chicago-based bachelor financier felt little affinity for the 2,430-square-foot residence at La Quinta Country Club. It had been in his family since his father and uncle purchased it new in 1968.
Over the years, the house had been a full-time residence, a part-time vacation home, and a rental property. Its lack of character, despite its beautiful location in the sunny desert, had him in a love-it-or-list-it frame of mind.
A Google search led him to Palm Desert–based Nicholas Lawrence Design. After a tour, the firm’s co-owner, Nicholas Hertneck, reassured him: A renovation could bring a fresh, consistent identity to those tired spaces that had played too many roles. He was willing to hand it over and see what they could do.
The firm’s primary directive was to deliver a home that promotes calm, feels spacious, and is easy to care for. Several initial design decisions supported that end by going entirely against the grain.
“We actually reduced the living space in the house and created more outdoor living space for our client,” says Hertneck, who led the design. “The whole back of the house had been expanded out onto the veranda, creating awkwardly proportioned, overly big rooms. By removing that addition and sculpting the interior space, we improved the proportions of the rooms and patios,” and restored the indoor-outdoor flow.
They also removed a number of windows that faced the neighbors’ air-conditioning units. Replacing the windows with walls eliminated unpleasant views and provided more substantial planes to hang art. They even centered the front door.
“Beyond that, we made a lot of little changes that had a big impact on the house,” Hertneck says. “We made the design more livable and nuanced.”
A previous remodel left a dropped ceiling in the primary bedroom that concealed the drama of the original tongue-and-groove construction. But the focal point is a mural fashioned from his own photograph of a geode. Desert Wraps quickly produced the material so they could wrap the wall behind the bed. Guest bedrooms lean more minimalist, letting artwork like an African mask and vintage paintings infuse just enough color.
Bathrooms gleam with new finishes and fixtures. Their formerly sunken showers are step-in modern — and safer. Throughout the home, brightened by “very clean white LED light,” new flooring complements Milgard doors and windows, with treatments that reach the ceiling.
In the guest bedroom, an ornately carved African mask picks up colors in the vintage artwork.
Only once during the eight-month project did the client fly out to visit. Following an initial furniture presentation, all architectural and remodeling conversations regarding the three-bedroom, three-bath home took place via Zoom.
The contemporary version of the residence retains its midcentury modern charm and scale. “The owner has said that the interior is unrecognizable,” which for him is a positive. “He’s very happy with it,” Nicholas Hertneck says, and the client is not selling.