Uptown Girls (and Boys)

The personalities who help define this highly visual strip happen to be drawn to the same neighborhoods, eras, architects — and sometimes even the same address.

Lisa Marie Hart Home & Design 0 Comments

 

Before the early 2000s, few could picture living in an Uptown world, let alone operating a business there. This stretch of vacant storefronts and neglected midcentury buildings was merely a North Palm Canyon mile-marker on the way to downtown. The lights were much brighter there, as the other song goes.

Pioneers like fashion goddess Trina Turk envisioned the area’s own bright spark, however. Her first boutique opened in an Uptown Albert Frey–designed building in 2002. Others paved the way alongside her in a rebirth that hasn’t let up. Preservationists, rest easy: Uptown Design District restaurants, home stores, clothing boutiques, salons, galleries, real estate offices, and more are keeping it classy up north.

Meanwhile, Turk’s choice of the nautically novel Ship of the Desert house as her Palm Springs home provokes a thought: If Uptown’s fellow business minds have enough style to transform an area, that style must transfer to their own homes, right? Eight of them let us behind the scenes with candid conversation about what makes their homes a haven.

None of them has a 1936 Deco-riffic gem decked out in Streamline Moderne architecture like Turk does, of course. (Most ships don’t dock in the desert.) But overlap abounds, as does a common desire to fluff their homes with Uptown wares. Two live (and one works) in the Modern Loft building, the first mixed-use building to go up in Palm Springs in more than 25 years. Two sets of business owners in The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five happen to own two of the few local homes by architect James McNaughton. And while the artist known as Shag loves his vacation pad built in 1960, Shag: The Store’s actual owners, Jay Nailor and MiShell Modern, chose a 1961 home in the Movie Colony. Midcentury definitely speaks to this crowd, but it’s not their only language.


Photo by David Blank

Paschal with husband, Dan, in the living room, site of holidays and parties with family and friends. "Everybody who makes me who I am," says Paschal.

 

"If we see something we like, we buy it and make it work."

JOHN PASCHAL, co-owner, Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge

EST. IN UDD: 2015

AT HOME: A garden condo at Sunrise East, circa 1972

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: New modern with a few vintage pieces thrown in; art is important

"I’m a Gemini with ADD and I get bored easily," jokes photographer-turned-restaurateur John Paschal of his change-it-up decorating style. "Things move around. And I like everything neat because I’m also a little OCD. Friends come over and think I cleaned for them. But it’s always like this!"

Paschal relocated from Los Angeles full time six years ago after owning a weekend house here for many years. On the heels of his 40-year entertainment photography career, he introduced Snapshot Palm Springs for brands in town on photo shoots that needed a studio for detail shots.

Opening a restaurant called for a leap outside his photography comfort zone, but fulfilled a long-held dream. Paschal and his Eight4Nine business partner, Willie Rhine (of Lulu fame), designed and decorated the entire 8,000-square-foot space themselves — along with advice from some very good decorators. "Every step of the way wasn’t planned," Paschal says of the enormous design challenge. "We just did the next thing in front of us."

Echoing Eight4Nine’s placement at the foot of the mountain, Paschal’s condominium "had to have a mountain view — it’s a prerequisite. When we drove down our cul-de-sac with the agent, I said, ‘If it has this view, I’m buying it.’" Paschal isn’t sure he’s 100 percent sold on community living, but it frees his time for staring at those views.

The den has become his favorite room, adorned with family photos on two walls. "It’s very personal and homey. Two covered twin beds double as a sofa so people can crash here," he says. "But we always entertain in the living room with the custom red rug. We salvaged and reupholstered the vintage sofa from a San Fernando thrift store junkyard. I’m a big recycler."


Photo by David Blank

Kowal with Blanquita, a mixed-breed rescue dog from a Costa Rican beach.

 

"I’m a minimalist. I don’t have a lot of objects. The ones I’ve picked, I’ve picked very carefully."

JAIME KOWAL, photographer and co-owner, Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki

EST. IN UDD: 2014

AT HOME: A 1959 Meiselman in Racquet Club Estates

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: Creating a home that feels serene and energetic, welcoming yet private, elegant but relaxed, all at the same time

Several years ago, entrepreneur and photographer Jaime Kowal picked up her south-facing home at a short sale price: a modernist post-and-beam Meiselman on a street among Meiselmans. "I loved the tongue and groove ceilings, the clerestory windows, the pool. It’s a great house for entertaining," she says. "When my parents and friends come from Canada, I love opening it up to them." The soothing neutral palette blends her indoor and outdoor living areas, while a mix of materials (linen, cotton, silk, sheepskin, wood, and brass) add texture and interest. For "a bit of tension and dynamism," Kowal displays a small, curated collection of pieces from every decade.

Though she avoids visual distraction, Kowal finds serenity in furnishings that hold significance, from her great-aunt’s peacock rattan chair she loved growing up to a 200-year-old rug from Iran. "It’s really important that my home feels quiet, beautiful, soft, feminine, and welcoming," she says. "At the end of the day, I want to relax."

On the horizon, her Uptown business partner Chris Pardo will help her renovate. "I find design decisions in my businesses much easier than in my own space," she says with a laugh. Kowal is also proprietor of The Amado, a 1955 renovated five-unit complex that has been featured in Vogue and Architectural Digest, and she is launching a similar property called The Junipero in the UDD in November.

Kowal draws a parallel between her photography work and interior design, in terms of composition, balance, color, and light. "Light is really important to me," says this early riser. "Here, I get beautiful light all day long." Unlike some, she also embraces those north-of–Vista Chino winds. "To me, that motion always feels like new energy."


Photo by David Blank

Agle at his Royal Hawaiian Estates condo, his tiki home away from home.

 

"I spent my first eight years growing up in Hawaii. I think it definitely had an influence."

JOSH AGLE, artist, Shag: The Store

EST. IN UDD: 2009

AT HOME: A poolside condo in Royal Hawaiian Estates, circa 1960

APPROACH TO THIS INTERIOR: A world traveler’s bachelor pad for someone who loves the South Seas

A year and a half ago, the artist synonymous with Uptown finally got a local pad of his own. In line with his retro prints, "Shag" chose a tidy, 1960 two-bedroom at Royal Hawaiian Estates by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison. "I used to stay at The Riviera until my friends bought [a unit] in the complex," he explains. "Just the feeling I got from the 20 units around a pool … a lightbulb went off in my head."

The condo serves as a weekender home in a town that houses the first Shag store (another will open in West Hollywood). Though Josh Agle’s primary residence in Lemon Heights in Orange County exhibits a straight-up midcentury modern bent, he grabbed this chance to work out a more fantastical theme. "My wife said, ‘Do whatever you want,’ so there were no constraints," he confides. "I didn’t want it to look like Trader Vic’s. I wanted it to feel like 1964, my favorite year for cars." Agle built a dining room chandelier based on one in Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, installed a rock wall with colored lighting, and custom-designed wallpaper through spoonflower.com. Then he tracked down several must-haves via a worldwide search on Craigslist. Unsurprisingly, this artist has one strong vision.

During Caliente Tropics’ annual Tiki Caliente event, Agle says, owning a nearby condo is a huge perk. "I can hang with people I know, then invite them back here. When I open the sliding doors, we can still hear the tropical band playing," he says. "It’s been better than I expected. It’s a neat community. People are really into its history and the Polynesian aspect. I want even more ‘tiki people’ in the complex. It’s a great canvas."


Photo by David Blank

Wilson, left, and Hoskins say their poodles, Jack and Willy, use the pool more than they do. "Jack will even get on a raft and float around," Hoskins relates.

 

"Our colors are quiet, even in art. There aren’t a lot of prints. When we come home, we want our eyes to relax."

BRANDON HOSKINS & STEPHEN WILSON, owners, Towne Palm Springs and The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five

EST. IN UDD: 2013

AT HOME: A 1972 James McNaughton in South Palm Springs

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: Calming neutral colors paired with fabrics inspired by menswear

Brandon Hoskins and Stephen Wilson have an unapologetic soft spot for midcentury architecture — but at least they’re consistent. In their business, the couple owns the E. Stewart Williams–designed building that houses The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five, where they also run the cornerstone shop, Towne Palm Springs. Patterned after L.A.’s Fred Segal concept of complementary boutiques, the dozen owneroperated stores flow together in a mélange of home décor, linens, art, fashion, jewelry, and accessories. (Don’t be surprised to catch notable designers browsing for gifts.) After opening as the Harold Hicks Real Estate and Insurance building in 1955, the flat-roofed complex housed the city’s water company headquarters for more than a decade. "Towne represents our point of view," says Wilson. "We say it’s classic and curated with a vibe that offers a mixture of pedigree, whimsy, and just plain handsome."

Hoskins and Wilson also fell for a midcentury modern estate, complete with a towering living room that edges the pool. As a former Hollywood set designer, James McNaughton held tight to his penchant for visual drama. Cue the open floor plan that curves around a sunken great room, a progressive layout by early 1970s standards.

With the pair’s artistic backgrounds in fashion, store interiors, graphic design, home restoration, hairstyling, and even culinary school, both their store and their home pay homage to men’s suiting in color and fabrics. "People in Palm Springs equate midcentury modern with bright colors," Hoskins muses, "but I think you can use classic colors you don’t get tired of as fast."


Photo by David Blank

Held with husband, Tristan, and their recently rescued 3-year-old Italian greyhound, Levi.

 

"The living room has the best view and you can see the scope of the whole house. You’re inside, but you feel like you’re sitting by the pool."

CANDICE HELD, owner, Candice Held boutique in The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five

EST. IN UDD: 2014

AT HOME: A 1967 James McNaughton on the Vista Las Palmas–Little Tuscany border

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: An eclectic mix of ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, French antiques, and pop-surreal art

Two years ago, fashion and home goods designer Candice Held was reluctant to go on her honeymoon. Though she and her husband had tickets to visit Paris and Prague, "We didn’t want to leave because we had just moved in," she explains. "Even now when we go on short trips, we’re excited to come home. We’re totally in love with it."

Described as a blend of Palladian, Hollywood Regency, and neoclassical styles, the quirky tour de force retains plenty of original details, from figural Sherle Wagner faucets to a cedarlined fur closet that captured Held’s heart. "Everything about it is thoughtful and designed for the best possible living experience. It really shows what an incredible architect James McNaughton was," Held marvels. "He only designed a handful of homes here, but they are all gorgeous masterpieces with a unique point of view that’s hard to classify."

Held and her husband each have a home office. In hers, she’s working on tie-back dresses, resort-style caftans, and wallpaper inspired by the Sunnylands estate that beguiles in chinoiserie and pink pagodas. Between work sessions, the vacation-vibe home inspires a swim. "We came here to live a more laid-back lifestyle, one that’s inwardly focused and goes back to the basics," Held says. "We wanted to be more home-based, not fighting a daily battle through the traffic, lines, and noise of L.A."


Photo by David Blank

Mizeski in his favorite chair, across from his favorite view.

 

"It’s a haven because I’m able to live with the best of the best and the things that make me happy."

CHRIS MIZESKI, co-owner, Christopher Anthony Ltd.

EST. IN UDD: 2009

AT HOME: Uptown in the Modern Loft building, built 2008

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: Combining favorite art (an abstract bronze figural statue and an early photo of Andy Warhol by Philippe Halsman) with furniture that currently interests him

Chris Mizeski continues the live-work tradition of old Palm Springs by residing upstairs from his 3,500-square-foot showroom. Once based across the street, the business recently relocated to the Modern Loft building. "I work seven days a week, not because I have to but because I love it," says Mizeski, who attests that the locale works as well for retail as it has for him residentially. After living there seven years, this former New Yorker still appreciates the architecture’s urban qualities. "Of course, my style at home is incestuously married to my business environment," he says, though neither restricts itself to one period or look. "I’m constantly exposed to vintage and contemporary furnishings and art that excite me, whether a studio ceramic piece by one of our artists or a vintage Vladimir Kagan sofa." Mizeski admires the dramatic qualities in rooms by Martyn Lawrence Bullard and in Michael S. Smith’s interiors that integrate traditional and modern taste. But simple pleasures have their place, too. "I’m a Scotch guy," says Mizeski. After work, he might head upstairs to sip a drink in his favorite chair, a sleek, aeronautic beauty from a hotel in South Beach, Miami.


Photo by David Blank

Marchese in his two-story condo in Uptown’s Modern Loft building.

 

"My comfort at home comes from being close to my business. If they need me, I’m just up the block."

TONY MARCHESE, co-owner, Trio Restaurant

EST. IN UDD: 2009

AT HOME: Uptown in the Modern Loft building, built 2008

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: Less is more

You might see Tony Marchese "commuting" to work, but he won’t be strolling far. Since 2011, Marchese has declined a significant degree of work-life separation by opting to live in a striking steel-and-glass structure on the same block as his restaurant. Nicknamed the "mayor of Uptown" by colleagues and neighbors, Marchese says many of them are collaborating to make Uptown the first neighborhood association in Palm Springs. "I’m so close, I can entertain more now. And I love walking, shopping, and eating Uptown," he says, naming Birba and Copley’s as favorites. "My house is filled with furniture and art from Uptown, and I used ‘Uptown Design District’ in our marketing and ads when no one else was." Trina Turk pillows liven his couch and a Shag print hangs in the powder room. Other accents have found their way upstairs in his space from nearby Christopher Anthony Ltd., Modern Way, and Interior Illusions. "My life is filled with lots going on, between running three businesses and a food and wine festival and entertaining people all day, every day," says Marchese. "When I get home, I keep it quiet, clean, and simple — with just a touch of orange to keep the good energy going."


Photo by David Blank

Brown and her partner, Kate Black, at home with their Schnoodle, Doobie.

 

"When you work with the public all day, it’s nice to come home and have peace and solitude. I walk in and go ‘ahhhh.’ There’s a big sigh factor here."

READ BROWN, owner, Read Brown Hair Salon

EST. IN UDD: 2004

AT HOME: Cathedral City Cove ranch-style home, circa 1973

APPROACH TO INTERIORS: An eclectic style with a nod toward Asian — similar to her salon

"I call it the Brady Bunch neighborhood," Read Brown says, laughing. "It’s not a development. Each house is a little different." In artsy yet quiet Cathedral City Cove, Brown and her partner found an abode that offers everything they need. Nine-foot-high walls ensure supreme privacy around the garden backyard with a pool, spa, and play space for their two dogs. Indoors, the home office offers pool views, the kitchen tile beams in a cheerful robin’s-egg blue, and a sofa in front of the fireplace makes a prime spot to curl up with the dogs and a book.

Brown treats her home as an ever-changing gallery, which mirrors her approach at the salon. "It feels more like a gathering place where clients are hanging out," she describes. Brown believes her love for music adds to the ambiance, thanks to her 1,500-song playlist that rotates quarterly. As for the location, even farther Uptown than her first salon, Brown says people asked if she was crazy. "Nobody was up there," she confirms. "But there was parking!"

Comfort and whimsy define Brown’s personal style. Her home brims with thriving plants gifted from clients. There are 13 Buddhas, Asian paintings and art, and elephants in an array of trunk poses. "One client lived in Asia for 25 years and had much of the art in storage after that," Brown explains of the aesthetic. "He would much prefer that we enjoy it, so he loaned it to us."

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