1959 siva house

Flowers, Always

At the 1959 Siva House, a colorful landscape and midcentury architecture harmonize on a mountain plateau.

Lisa Marie Hart Current Digital, Home & Design, Real Estate

1959 siva house

Look up and you just might find what you’re after. That’s how Mark and Liz Ostoich found their late 1950s home by architect Hugh Kaptur. “We used to live below the house in The Villas at Old Palm Springs, a wonderful development against the mountains,” Liz says. “Every day we would look up at the Siva House and say to each other, ‘If I could live anywhere in Palm Springs, it would be right there.’ I suppose that creating a vision really works!”

The couple, proprietors of the popular local restaurants Farm and Tac/Quila, purchased the home in 2012.

Getting what one wants, particularly a fine structure by a significant architect, carries the responsibility of knowing what to do with it — that is, outfitting it in midcentury modern furnishings and finding a passionate landscaper to nurture a habitat worthy of the home’s simple design and the bird-nest views.

mark ostoich palm springs
“The view is inspiring at all times of the day or night, and we love the clean lines, organic materials, and indoor-outdoor feel,” says homeowner Liz Ostoich.

They achieved both, in the stylish and exacting manner two restauranteurs would. However, their go-to gardeners found them, not the other way around. River Hudson and Regina Carter, friends and founders of Horticultural Holiday, were brunching at Farm in 2017 when they approached Ostoich with a gentle nudge. “We were in awe of being transported to the South of France in her outdoor dining area, yet one thing was missing: flowers!” Hudson says. “Liz’s eyes lit up with intrigue when we mentioned our specialization.”

Horticultural Holiday leaves clients and their guests with the cared-for feeling that comes from individualized garden design. In pushing boundaries through design and plant specimens, Horticultural Holiday creates pause, “grounding one in the present moment through the beauty, arrangement, and combinations of plantings.” For these two childhood friends turned business partners, and for Ostoich, a collective mantra rings true: Flowers, always.

“I wanted the Farm gardens to evoke a lush garden in Provence,” Ostoich recalls. “Their vision was magic.” With French-inspired blooms planted in the eatery’s charming courtyards, the women were invited up the mountainside to tour the couple’s home and its grounds. Carter says their “creative minds went to work the minute we drove up the steep driveway to this iconic, historic, architectural feat.”

Horticultural Holiday
From outdoor chair cushions to blooms that change with the seasons, orange is often the color of choice, making nod to the sunshades and interior décor. The living area sees all. Pieces hand-picked over a period of years rarely stray from the era during which the home was built. 
“We love history, art, and architecture,” says Ostoich, and the couple’s home reflects all three. The glass petals of a Mazzega Murano chandelier glow above the T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings dining room set.

Simplicity is part of the feat. What could have been a showpiece on a showy strip of land beside the San Jacinto Mountains, Kaptur scaled modestly. With glass sides, the post-and-beam home seems to disappear, save for the orange sunshades added later by Albert Frey, when he lived next door. A 3,000-square-foot flagstone terrace hugs the mountain and wraps around the house, creating opportunities along the way for patio dining and view-gazing over the valley.

As an extreme focal point for the home and its property, a roof-height boulder soaks along the edge of the spa. The infinity pool is said to be the first in the city.

All this bliss needed stewards with a vision. “The couple’s one request was to fill their growing collection of midcentury ceramic pots and to keep the natural beauty of the mountain untouched,” Carter says.

The sun’s rays are no match for this hilltop home. An awning stretches like a butterfly wing across the east side, shading the spaces within and protecting the owners’ midcentury collections. Flowers line the terrace and add color and cheer from vintage pots.
"The glass allows us to catch glimpses of the garden from various vantage points."
When the gardeners unearthed period photographs of homes by Frey and the Alexander Construction Company encircled in flowers, they were moved to take “artistic license” from the expected desertscape yet “still stay within the modernist vibe,” Hudson says. “We all agreed it was an opportunity to transform the neutral outdoor palette by filling it with color influenced by their furnishings and art.”
With grand boulders and the San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop, Horticultural Holiday enhanced the timeless natural canvas.
"We like to think that our landscape design is an ever-evolving art piece."
Vivid, seasonally changing gardens now complement the architecture, interiors, and original site of Kaptur’s Siva House, one of his first projects in Palm Springs. “I had just finished the Impala Lodge [in 1957] and several builders were looking for help in designing spec houses in order to save money in architectural drawings,” Kaptur says. “This one was designed for Joe Pawling and first sold to [Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians] tribal leader Pete Siva.” Some know it as the Russell House for second owner, Douglas Russell, who stayed longer than Siva.
“We chose to take a new creative direction from what we were accustomed to seeing in desert modernist landscapes,” says River Hudson of Horticultural Holiday. “The Ostoiches are not afraid to take risks, which has led us to this ever-changing cornucopia of blooms and color year-round.”

As Kaptur’s home respects the land, the landscape honors both.

Lush garden beds and bright, bountiful pots juxtapose the stark desert landscape in a design direction inspired by the works of Mexican architect Luis Barragán and the gardens and modernist architecture of Mexico City. “It was a luxury and a privilege to work with the existing hardscape and modernist architecture and add a cornucopia of blooms year-round,” Hudson says.

Their placement of color, texture, and variety has awakened another layer of emotion Ostoich wanted to see and feel around the home. “I love the way the glass allows us to catch different glimpses of the garden from various vantage points,” she says. “The pots right outside the shower, the cactus garden with the mountain backdrop, and the ever-changing flower garden by the pool.”


Inside, the native Californians “enjoyed the treasure hunt” of hand-picking their collection of midcentury modern decor from local shops and international designers. Each painting, light fixture, art piece, and furnishing represents a memory and a shared pursuit. A Mazzega Murano glass chandelier, circa 1960s, blooms like a flower over the T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings dining room set from Christopher Anthony Ltd. in Palm Springs. From a seat at the table, views of the gardens edging the pool pick up colors from the mosaic backsplash in the kitchen. The couple found the 1960s Doyle Lane tile at the Modernism Show and Sale.

The midcentury motif continues in the main living area, where a Frank Lloyd Wright rug brings an unexpected note of Art Deco Revival. The four-color carpet was originally made for the landmark Arizona Biltmore Hotel in 1973. A sunset-gold gondola sofa by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, Sam Maloof end tables, studio pieces from the 1950s (including a Knoll cabinet), and a cane-back Hans Wegner daybed with cushions as orange as Frey’s awnings add period-perfect splashes appreciated from both sides of the glass.

A glass slider in the shower expands the indoor-outdoor possibilities.

“The overall energy is rich with art, soul, and historical culture,” Carter says. “It was not only a choice but a necessity to continue the mood and energy of the home into the garden.”

Long before their 2006 move to Palm Springs, the Ostoiches relished restoring historic properties. “Now, River and Regina are an important part of that process,” Ostoich says of Horticultural Holiday . Since reimagining the home garden, they have created plant walls and pots for their Mexican restaurant, Tac/Quila. “Each garden is uniquely curated to support the architecture and character of the space. I love that they care as much about the ambiance in our home and restaurants as we do.”

Architect and landscaper are connected by a mindset that might explain why their work melds together so well. “I don’t have a specific style,” Kaptur says. “I prefer that all of my buildings look different, so they each have their own personality. I have always looked at architecture as an expression of art.”

Hudson and Carter of Horticultural Holiday sound off in an echo: “We like to think that our landscape design is an ever-evolving art piece in Mark and Liz’s collection.”

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