Luis Barragán Architecture

Pink Actually

A notable architect inspires a custom paint job.

Lisa Marie Hart Home & Design, Real Estate

Luis Barragán Architecture
Palm Springs homeowner Bill Nicholson asked for a exterior palette based on the color and design principles of world-renowned midcentury architect Luis Barragán.

A vivid pink home might seem shocking when set upon the landscape of North Palm Springs. Yet Bill Nicholson’s authentic modern abode built in 1946 wore pink as its first coat of paint.

Across the decades, the two-level stucco home that features an unusual second-floor suite above the kitchen has been painted over — and over. Nicholson completed a renovation and then hired color consultant Ron Scharfe, owner of Palm Springs’ RS Design, to create a fresh scheme for the exterior.

Scharfe scraped down through the thick years of paint history to reach that first layer of pink, which fell right in line with the homeowner’s plans. Nicholson asked Scharfe to create a palette based on the color and design principles of world-renowned midcentury architect Luis Barragán.

Barragán, a Mexican engineer turned self-taught architect, was known for his studies and use of color, light, shadow, form, and texture. In 1980, Barragán became the second winner of the Pritzker Prize for architecture. His house and studio, built in 1948 in Mexico City, were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. After Nicholson, a long-time fan, visited Barragán’s residence, he was inspired to adapt this vision for his own home, constructed two years prior to Barragán’s.

Dunn-Edwards Paints was Scharfe’s first and only stop, where the Then, Now & Forever collection includes hues original to midcentury structures. The rainbow of 142 historically accurate colors was born from experts who studied photographs of hundreds of buildings from the 1600s to the 1960s. From Missions to Victorian to midcentury modern, vintage colors from these building styles represent real architecture of the American West.

Scharfe discovered Rouge was a perfect match to the original. Dusty Cedar and OK Coral were complementary accents. “These three hues look amazing as a color palette at any time of day,” he says. His professional eye was also crucial for their placement. “The house has many angles and, given the intense sunlight, I had to be very aware of shadows and lines. I didn’t want the colors to blend into each other as the light changed.”

Thrilled with Scharfe’s research and results, Nicholson loves his pink home. “It has changed the house into what he was looking for — a house inspired by Luis Barragán that he is enthusiastic about and that has a ‘wow’ factor,” Scharfe says. “That’s what my clients expect: an appealing and novel color palette designed specifically for their home.”