William F. Cody’s Desert Designs Are Modernized in This Indian Wells Home

A couple took cues from the architect's documentary film to infuse the Spanish-style house with his modernist sensibilities.

Lisa Marie Hart Modernism

Sheldon and Stephanie Anderson infused the renovations of their Indian Wells home with the soul of original architect William F. Cody. 

The Indian Wells home of Sheldon and Stephanie Anderson was always built to take a village. Original owners Paula and Jack Petrie entertained Arnold Palmer, Jim Mahoney, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Johnny Bench, Barry Goldwater, Jack Lemmon, and many golf pros. Keeping up the tradition, the Andersons hosted a Palm Springs Modern Committee fundraiser last May.

“The charm of the home is in its history, the architect, and the families who have shared it,” Sheldon says. “We look forward to adding our own chapter.”

“I was nervous when Cathy first came by,” Anderson says of architect William Cody’s daughter. “His design was a Spanish ranch house. Though, by the time we got it, it wasn’t Spanish anymore.” Sheldon and his wife, Stephanie, purchased the 5,500-square-foot home in 2019 and set out to blend the 1960s bones with their appreciation for a more midcentury point of view.

“She said, ‘It really shows the versatility of my dad’s designs,’” Sheldon recalls. “‘What he originally saw as Spanish ranch could, with a bit of work, also be a classic midcentury-modern home. He would be tickled to see it.’” Cody didn’t hesitate to include their updates in the book she co-authored, Master of the Midcentury: The Architecture of William F. Cody (The Monacelli Press, 2021).

The Indian Wells home sits in the original planned development of Desert Bel Air Estates and was intended for developer Filmore Crank, and his wife, actress Beverly Garland. Construction began in 1963, but, soon after, Garland landed the co-starring role on The Bing Crosby Show, requiring she be closer to Los Angeles. Paula Vickers Petrie and Jack Petrie purchased and completed the home in 1964. Paula was an heir to the Vickers Petroleum Company; Jack was a clothier who pioneered country club-branded golf attire in the 1960s. After he died in the 1980s, Paula lived there until her death in 2010. The Andersons befriended their daughter, Carol, who shared many stories about the home — inspiring their treatment of the interiors.

When the couple first toured the home with their agent, Rich Nolan, it flaunted the decorating fancies of the early 2000s. Stephanie winced. Sheldon saw a nice price for the space and infinite potential. “I wanted to walk into 1965,” he says. “I knew she could do it.” (He has a background in construction; Stephanie, an amateur interior designer, won an award from the city of Everett, Washington, for her year-long restoration of their 1910 Craftsman bungalow.) She watched Desert Maverick, the Leo Zahn 2016 documentary about Cody and learned as she went along, purchasing a large collection of pieces from a vintage reseller up north. First, she lightened up the pervasive beige. “After that,” Stephanie says, “most everything has a significance to either the house and the Petrie history or to us and our history.”

Indoor-outdoor relations are restored through color and flora.

Sunny yellows, swimming pool-blues, and an original planter revived with lush greenery repeat the palette of the vast outdoor living space throughout the open living area. An ultra-thick custom carpet stretches across the floor in a swirl pattern. It’s similar to one they saw in a timepiece home in Eldorado Country Club that reminded Stephanie of her grandfather’s taste; he owned a furniture store when she was a girl. The yellow couch — the first piece purchased for the space, thus setting the tone for the room — is a vintage Adrian Pearsall Gondola Sofa, reupholstered in period-appropriate Maharam fabric.

Bromeliads — often perched on a desk as a single potted plant — cluster in blooming glory. Holding just a few “sad cacti” when the couple purchased the property, the planter now echoes a gigantic one in the atrium at Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage. Careful hand-watering keeps the flora happy. 

The original bar (unseen to the left of the slider) was refurbished with new cabinetry. It holds decanters from the Bob Hope Desert Classic golf tournament, a throwback to the 1960s, when the home hosted post-tournament parties. Vintage barware sits on top, nestled with a couple lighters gifted to Sheldon, that once belonged to Frank Sinatra.

A new gathering space for family game nights.

More than one previous owner placed a piano in this prime seating area, where the glass slides back and a gentle wave of desert air moves in. “Carol told us that Jack Lemmon and Jack Benny were right here playing the piano and singing to everybody,” Sheldon says. The Andersons entertain plenty, without someone sitting behind the keys, and outfitted the sunny corner with a low Platner Coffee Table and new swivel chairs by CB2 in a fabric that can handle the incoming rays. This is where you’ll find them on family game nights, playing cards until 2 a.m.

The custom-made Edward Fields roulette rug still wears its 1972 tag on the back. “We bought it from Courtney Newman at Modernway,” Sheldon shares of the long-standing Palm Springs shop. “He had bought it for himself from the original owner at an estate sale in Palm Beach. But it didn’t fit his house.” Stephanie rolled a vintage bar cart up to the edge. The pendant lamp is from Restoration Hardware.

This corner was originally part of the patio. Studying the home one 1970s day while floating in the pool, Paula Petrie decided to pop out the corner to make more room for parties. She called an architect, and this spot has since inspired congregation.

More drama and dimension make the dining area unique.

Passing on the wallpaper or a bright accent wall, Stephanie liked the idea of white tile for texture, despite their contractor’s reservations. Meanwhile, Sheldon set his sights on featuring the original layered beam work. “Everything was beige, from the walls to the beams and the ceiling,” he recalls. “And the beams disappeared. Steph suggested painting white between them. When you walked in before, you didn’t notice them because it all blended out. Now we do. Even Cathy Cody looked up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, that is spectacular.’ The beams remain her dad’s original color.”

The raised-border rug is a recent acquisition, when a second Edward Fields rug from 1972 popped up serendipitously in a Seattle antique store. Vintage pieces include the Eero Saarinen Tulip Chairs, a William Hinn Exoskeleton Dresser repurposed as a buffet, and a pair of yellow lamps from Modernway. Sheldon sourced the Louis Poulsen copper PH Artichoke Pendant Lamp from Germany — the only one he could find in this massive size. Tile from Modern Hacienda.

Modern-day kitchen designs encourage retro breakfasts.

The couple’s most laborious undertaking was the kitchen, formerly clad in chunky beige granite and dated cabinets. They stripped it down and replaced the cabinetry and appliances. A new textured tile backsplash and open shelving lend a lighter, more modern aesthetic while the island-sized island now reveals flecks in the white quartz that remind them of Formica. 

Sheldon happily piles their guests’ plates with hot waffles from his vintage waffle maker. “We’re the new VRBO of our family,” Stephanie laughs. The island’s expanse is also a prep-and-serve dream for entertaining a large crowd. 

Tying into the tile, the George Nelson Bubble Lamps are from Design Within Reach. Tile from Modern Hacienda.

A vintage bedroom suite lends authenticity to the revamp.

The slatted headboard, nightstands, and petite dresser are a midcentury Declaration set in walnut by Kipp Stewart for Drexel Heritage. “The needlepoint golfer is a nod to my grandma who made tons of needlepoint pillows for us back in the day,” Stephanie says. This bedroom also happens to be where Glen Campbell crashed after a number of late-night parties with the original homeowners. Custom-made patterned curtains pick up the fairway-green color of the vintage Karpen of California chairs. Lamps from Palm Springs Vintage Market. 

Once home to a large fiberglass bathtub and small shower stall, the open wet room with a tiled double shower suited the owners’ walk-in-walk-out preferences and brought the home to more current standards. (They had added one to their home in the Pacific Northwest and made this one even larger.) In a fanciful “when in the desert” move, they tucked a new freestanding tub on the adjacent patio. Overhead, they added a Cody-style pergola, modeled after one of the architect’s designs that they had seen at Racquet Club Estates.