Exterior of Seven Lakes Palm Springs home

Why DIY?

Canadian snowbirds at Seven Lakes 
pull off a fast turnaround 
that rivals pro designers

Lisa Marie Hart Home & Design

Exterior of Seven Lakes Palm Springs home

Gary and Deborah Lands have nothing against designers.

Over the years, the Toronto-based couple have worked with interior designers as well as architects.

When they bought a condo in Palm Springs after visiting their family’s home in Palm Desert for 25 years, however, they opted to take what they had learned and be their own arbiters of taste.

Gary’s roles in the real estate business have ranged from developer to lawyer. His experience, confidence, and innate good taste prompted the collaboration with his wife. “We had a strong vision of what we wanted, and a lot of thought went into it. I do the picking and Deb makes it happen,” he says. “I call her ‘the back office.’ She makes sure I stay somewhat on budget. We go back and forth to get it done fairly quickly.”

The couple completed their home in the winter then decided to stay the rest of the season before heading home. “We considered renting it out,” Gary says. “But it came out so great that now we’re not sure.”

Palm Springs Life Home + Design sat down with Gary
to learn the secrets of their successful project.

The couple describe their efforts as “Light, clean, and comfortable. Contemporary carefully married to midcentury influences.”

Why this place in Seven Lakes Country Club?
We were looking for something not too big with clean lines. It had to be midcentury. We wanted modern, but didn’t want the original floor plan altered very much. This one ticked all our boxes. It was a renovated shell with a renovated kitchen and bathrooms. We bought it in November 2015 and closed in December.

So, what was the rush in decorating it?
We wanted to get to the business of “relax and enjoy.” If we couldn’t get something immediately, we moved on. With the internet, it is easy to find what you generally want, or possible alternatives, with a little “click” action.

What was your overall vision?
Let the midcentury architecture shine on its own; position furniture for maximum enjoyment of the views; and embrace the natural (and, at night, artificial) light with proper control. Then, use this clean backdrop to support our art collection.

An extra piece of relief wall covering by Élitis hangs framed in the courtyard.

You say the home has a nickname?
Early on we named it “Bunnylands.” We had bought a small, magenta, mirrored, Jeff Koons-inspired rabbit for display. Shortly thereafter we noticed lots of rabbits regularly running by our property. Additionally, it contains our family name [Lands]. Finally, we could readily buy Sunnylands-logoed memorabilia, and without much creative effort, change the “S” to a “B.”

How would you sum up its style?
Light, clean, and comfortable. Contemporary carefully married to midcentury influences. We were not looking to live in a ’60s time-warp or create a slavish homage to midcentury design. In Toronto, we have the “real stuff.” Here, we have a mix of contemporary and midcentury. I do like to have originals where possible. I would call it “cozy midcentury.”

What was the main driver behind doing it yourselves?
A designer would try to interpret what we want. But I already know what I want when I see it. Going in with a clear notion of our design aesthetic, we felt that we were the best positioned to bring our vision to fruition, rather than it possibly being diluted through an interpretation by, and a negotiation with, a third party.

Visitors wanted to touch the relief wall covering by Élitis during Modernism Week tours.

Did you use a technique?
We love that it’s essentially a square box with tons of windows. We thought squares and circles would go well together, so we added a lot of circular elements to play off the squares.

Any favorite elements?

First is an original framed late 1950s catalog page containing actual samples of Frank Lloyd Wright drapery fabrics, which we purchased at this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Show. The other is the dining room relief “display bottle” wall covering from France. During the Modernism Week tours everyone wanted to touch it. It’s foam but it almost looks carved.

Kitchen cabinets reflect the color of driftwood.

Top resources for décor and furnishings available on the fly?
Blu Dot, Inform Interiors, West Elm, Ligne Roset, Modernica, and Rove Concepts, as well as Palm Springs vendors like Pelago, notNeutral, and Trend House. We like to buy locally because it reflects the environment we’re in.

Is this how it always looks?
Yes. It’s neat and tidy, but it’s not staged. We live in it. It suits us. Our 22-year-old son said it would make a great party house. We consider that a compliment.

The master bedroom shows vintage flair.

“Fragmented Cactus” is by artist Richard Hare.