This one-owner home feels fresh and modern yet original to the times. Steve Bouwman of design-build firm Studio Veren reformed its image starting with new ribbed entry doors and a decorative block wall.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LANCE GERBER, STYLED BY MICHAEL WALTERS
Some fall in love with the boy or girl next door. For others, it’s the house next door. Which isn’t even for sale.
Steve Bouwman, principal of design-build firm Studio Veren (formerly redüHOME), and his partner Mike Silvaggi rented an Airbnb in 2019 to test drive the desert for a year before uprooting from Chicago. By the time Bouwman had designed, built, and sold a luxuriously minimalist new home in the Movie Colony, the couple was keen to relocate to the valley and he was ready to dive into his second local project: their own home.
“So, what’s going on with this house?” Bowman prodded his agent every week or so about a vacant, one-owner throwback at Tamarisk Country Club. He was drawn to its wafer-thin rooflines and its alignment with the view. The pair had made an offer on the neighboring home that didn’t come to fruition, and Bouwman couldn’t shake this one from his mind. “This is a good house,” he assured Silvaggi. Even when they got inside and toured its awkward, circa-1959 layout, riddled with dated everything. Even when theirs was one of eight offers received during the first four hours after the home finally hit the market. All cash, all above ask.
As fairytales go, love conquered all, and the couple secured their Rancho Mirage address. “Right away, I knew what I wanted to do with it,”Bouwman recalls. Parties, both lavish and intimate, once filled these rooms, and he resolved to duplicate that destiny. “We wanted a house that was great for entertaining and where people felt comfortable,” he says. Bouwman checked those boxes with a sensitivity for flow, an eye for the handsome, more refined sides of the midcentury dress code, and a heart for respecting what architect Val Powelson had conceived.
Mosaic fireplace tile by The Fine Line Tile.
Early in the design phase, the pair befriended the owners’ relatives, also from Chicago. That’s how they discovered the good-times reputation of the Goldstein House. George Goldstein became widowed shortly after building the home, but found love again when he met Dorothy, his second wife, at the club. Their gatherings lit up the neighborhood, a legacy Dorothy upheld even after George’s passing, enjoying the home to its fullest for the rest of her 103 years.
“Apparently, she was just this little dynamite,” Bouwman says. “In Chanel all the time, hosting cocktail parties and full of energy. When we walked in the house, I felt that energy. We both said, ‘Let’s do this the right way. Let’s make it really fabulous for her.’”
The travertine terrace between home and pool welcomes the gathering of many or moments of reflection. Chairs and a curved settee compose the seating area. Aglow by night, it’s a guest favorite. Stone fire pit and circular day bed by Studio Veren.
Custom sofas by Studio Veren, mohair lounge chairs by Valdimir Kagan vintage burlwood side tables convene before a diptych by painter Daniel Hukill.
Custom cowhide rug rug for the dining area by Kyle Bunting.
Bouwman completed the four-bedroom home in February 2022 after just one year under his knife. He peeled away the tired finishes and extracted the obsolete, exposing its 60-year-old studs to rebuild a good house into a very good house, from the inside out.
Like a surgeon snipping, shaping, tucking, and re-sculpting, Bouwman let his instincts for space allocation and modern functionality guide the complicated reconfiguration. Closets and bathrooms emerged from ill-used places; a screened porch gave way to an enlarged bedroom. He knew just where to swap a wall for a window, add an outdoor shower garden, and recess the indoor-outdoor thresholds into the creamy travertine, creating seamless transitions.
Essentials reemerge with a fresh face, from the now circular fireplace just past the entry to a vast patio thrown open to the views and decked out with interior-quality seating after years sequestered under a screened-in lanai. Architectural adjustments recapture the eaves running through the house, and a new decorative block wall — seen both from the street and the interior — replaces a solid one that kept the light and views at bay.
Mixed seating mingles in the dining area.
The new bar links the living room and den.
The ’70s are alive in the kitchen, clad in green tile with custom cabinetry by European Touch.
The kitchen’s dutiful side retreats into itself, a technique Bouwman feels makes it look less like a kitchen in its prominent native placement aside the front door. Millwork shrouds appliances while the verdant hue of the tile and paint strike up a lively conversation with the greenery beyond the glass.
A centerpiece wet bar, somehow lacking all these years, has finally been invited to join the fun, replacing a closet off the living room. Guests drift from the kitchen, where they naturally congregate, past the freestanding fireplace, through the living area and around the custom game table, pausing to refill at the bar before trickling outside to slip into a lounge chair or unfold across a chaise.
“Before” photos of the house can produce confusion in those who cannot see what Bouwman can. The images’ disconnect between what was and what is translates like a long, deep canyon with a thunderstorm on one side and a sparkling, sunny day on the other. The abyss in between, and the manner of traversing it to clear the clouds and make it shine, is something only one man understands.
Bouwman claimed the casita for his office, care of a leafy wallcovering by Laine + Alliage.
The nuts and bolts of hiding mechanicals while removing soffits, as just one example, are a savvy byproduct of his 40-year career in Chicago. After two decades in large-scale development, converting delicate pre-war buildings into condos that preserve the plaster and period charm, Bouwman branched out on his own to purchase massive units in HOA-managed buildings from the 1960s and 1970s, building them out and flipping them. The turnkey units sold like sophisticated slices of deep-dish pizza, gone in a hot minute, one after the next.
His focus in greater Palm Springs represents yet another professional evolution. Here he connects with clients to update and customize. He has slowed his pace for this new lap on the track, trading high-rise red tape and impersonal spec work for the pool-and-party desert lifestyle and the satisfaction of personal relationships.
Their Tamarisk home is the perfect business card. “We’ve had a number of people tell us, ‘We went through this house before it was on market, but we couldn’t figure out what to do with it. And it needed so much work,’” Bouwman says. The type of work few others might attempt, right down to the furniture. “If it’s not vintage, I designed it and had it made.” A number of pieces from the 1960s and early ‘70s, hail from Hedge and JC Studio in Cathedral City. Tile selections also harken the era in color and pattern.
In the primary bedroom, a 1970s rosewood credenza from 1stDibs sits below a painting by Jason Trotter.
Bouwman added the new corner window where one can relax in a Vladimir Kagen lucite chair and ottoman.
The primary bath’s custom mirrors by Studio Veren reflect the scenery.
Bouwman salvaged and repurposed where possible and often replicated when not. A pair of existing wall-mounted nightstands flank a guest room bed. Hardware removed from the kitchen and repainted puts a retro punch in the laundry room, and rattan shutters serve as cabinet fronts in a guest room and two bathrooms. Pristine wood paneling throughout the home mirrors yet elevates the aging original. By digging up the cacti scattered across nearly half an acre and craning them into one cluster, Bouwman assembled a statuesque cactus hedge beyond the revamped pool and new spa.
The completed property has proved excessively accommodating. The couple’s first season saw a faucet flow of visitors. Eighteen sets of guests checked in to the two ensuite guest rooms, each with a private patio, designated HVAC temperature control, and a private Sonos sound system to stream their own playlists. “We actually made the house too good, because no one wanted to leave,” Bouwman says with a smile.
Minimal mirrors with curved edges lighten the look of statement vanities in the powder room and two guest bathrooms.
A finishing touch honors the backstory. The brass plaque they posted at the fairway edge of their lot stopped an unsuspecting golfer in his tracks. “George and Dorothy will always be remembered as instrumental fixtures at Tamarisk as well as the ultimate party hosts,” read a surprised Scott Goldstein, George Goldstein’s grandson. “May their tradition continue.” Scott and his wife meet the pair for cocktails when they are in town and recently purchased a home on the other side of the course. They are just two of the highly social neighbors who Bouwman says puts their very good house in the best of places.