The Perfect Combination

Ryan Tharp of Tharp Studios meshed his personal and professional worlds to create an ideal live/work environment.

Lawrence Karol Current Digital, Home & Design, Real Estate

The first floor of architectural designer Ryan Tharp and accountant and business manager Andrew Gartland's live/work space includes their living room/client lounge and meeting area.

People are increasingly embracing the concept of live/work environments. The challenge is ensuring there’s a delineation between the two worlds so the space feels like both a private home and a professional environment. Ryan Tharp has found that stylish sweet spot with the design he created for the North Palm Springs condominium he shares with his partner, Andrew Gartland.

Tharp is the owner of Tharp Studios and a board member for the American Institute of Architects California Desert Chapter, while Gartland is an accounting and business manager for local and remote clients, as well as Tharp Studios’ business manager.

In 2012, the couple moved to Palm Springs from San Diego where they had their first live/work space — although it was half the size of their current 1,600-foot, two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom condo. “We were attracted to the idea because we liked the efficiency of combining the two functions to eliminate a daily commute,” says Tharp. “We both have our own businesses, so this allows more time for work since we both tend to work long hours. The difference between San Diego and Palm Springs is there is more separation of public and private space, which is a better fit.”


A pair of professional restaurant kitchen tables double as a dining table or work surface, and can be also used for larger business meetings. The stainless steel auto body shop tool chest holds supplies and drawings. The triptych illustration (far left) is by Palm Springs artist Nat Reed.


The breakfast table can also be used for small business meetings. The vintage Danish chair and sofa are from JP Denmark, which is located in The Perez Art and Design Center in Cathedral City. The vintage Lane side tables were a gift from Tharp’s family.

The first floor of their condo is all living space while their office and both bedrooms are upstairs. Tharp specifically chose furniture for the lower level that looks as if it could be in an office waiting area. “The layout is unconventional as well,” he says. “A small, circular table flanks the living space and can be used as a breakfast table, for small meetings, or connected to the living area for larger meetings.”

Instead of a traditional dining table, there’s a pair of professional restaurant kitchen tables, with counter-height stools, that also serve as a kitchen island. “The table has flexible functions that can be changed at a moment’s notice,” says Tharp. “It can be used for dining, as a drawing layout surface, for larger meetings, or as a industrial work table for building models.” Nearby is an auto body shop tool chest he uses to store supplies and rolled-up, archived drawings. “Guests are drawn to it and often want to take it from us!”

Built in 2007, the complex itself was originally intended as condominiums, but was sold during the recession with individual units repurposed as rentals, some of which became live/work spaces for artists, designers, and professionals. Known as The Towers, the 20-unit building was designed by O’Donnell + Escalante Architects. (Lance O’Donnell is currently principal of o2 Architecture in Palm Springs.)


The painting in the master bedroom is by Val Samuelson, a 1960s artist and art director for Palm Springs Villager magazine (now Palm Springs Life). Tharp’s parents bought the bedroom set in 1964. “Since I was a child, I have always appreciated the lines on these pieces,” he says. “I think it has some subliminal effect on why I have always had a fondness for midcentury architecture and furniture. Andy and I thought the furniture would work perfect in our place, so much that we went back to the Midwest to wrap and box the furniture to have it shipped to Palm Springs.”

“We were looking for a space with a clean, modern aesthetic that matched my company brand and something that was easy to maintain,” says Tharp. He notes that The Towers straddles the commercial world simply by virtue of its building materials alone: steel, glass, concrete floors, and block.


The second floor has an office loft between the master and guest bedrooms. The Donald Wexler, FAIA print (downstairs) is by Palm Springs graphic designer Gary Wexler.

“We also loved the layout of the complex,” he adds. “Each unit has private outdoor space off the living and dining areas. Floor-to-ceiling glass connects the interior space to the outside, which makes the space feel larger. We chose not to add curtains to the first floor courtyard side because we wanted to feel the openness to the outdoors.”


Floor-to-ceiling glass doors and walls provides an instant indoor/outdoor connection.  “One client walked through the front door and wasn’t sure if she was inside or out,” says Tharp.

A bamboo hedge at the courtyard boundary acts as an exterior privacy wall. “When you enter our unit, you immediately see the bamboo hedge through the floor-to-ceiling glass which provides an instant indoor/outdoor connection,” says Tharp. “One client walked through the front door and wasn’t sure if she was inside or out.”

Ryan Tharp, Tharp Studios, 200 E. Francis Drive, Suite 140, Palm Springs. 760-409-3838;