Like a moderne luxury liner moored to the mountainside above Palm Springs, the home of fashion designer TrinaTurk and Jonathan Skow is aptly dubbed, Ship of the Desert.
Built in 1936 by the Southern California architectural team of Wilson and Webster. It was originally decorated by Honor Easton. Its now iconic name was given it by the prominent American artist Millard Sheets, who was a professor of Easton’s.
From its perch, the house’s prow-front living room and wrap-around decks offer spectacular views of Palm Springs as it crests the waves of the sea of swaying palm trees below.
Come aboard, the tour is about to set sail.
Behind the sliding pocket entry door lies the the foyer. A sinuous curving staircase climbs to the upper deck and guest rooms.
The living room with its curved window wall faces east to catch the morning sun. The windows all slide down into their sills and can be secreted away leaving the living room open to breezes.
To keep errant pests at bay, the windows are ingeniously fitted with copper screens that can be pulled down from their hiding place inside the window frames.
The seating arrangement is anchored by a sculpted oatmeal wool carpet whose braided fringe is easily the diameter of nautical rope! A witty send up, no doubt to the name of the house.
A pair of Vladamir Kagan lounges flank the fireplace are piled with signature pillows from Trina’s home collection. Throughout the living room carefully curated items make for a highly personal space.
The chunky maple blonde coffee table is surmounted with a collection mid-century colored glassware and stacks of art and photography books.
Metallic Moroccan hassacks and a canvas covered Poul Kjaerholm PK22 lounge chair share the prow of the living room with a 1970′s burled veneer and brass console.
The dining room with its dark terrazzo floor and vintage aluminum and leather chairs certainly were a nod to the streamlined moderne lines of the house. I was particularly fascinated with the unusual wine cooler.
The highlight of the kitchen was its enormous and lovingly well-worn butcher block island. Originally from a Brooklyn, New York delicatessen, it has very unusual metal legs that places it squarely from the industrial modern 1930′s.
The white 6 burner stove is vintage, but there are concessions to mod-cons. These include a built-in modern refrigerator and dishwasher.
While the stainless steel counter tops and Douglas fir cabinetry are new, the curving breakfast banquette and porthole window are nods to the house’s past making this one ship-shape galley.
Next stop, the promenade deck.
The principal guest room, directly above the living room, has its own private deck and the same views of the valley below. The built-ins are newly constructed, but based on the house’s originals that had been removed. Texture reigns here in the principal stateroom as elsewhere in the house. Colorful Moroccan rugs, bedding and upholstery reinforce the hot orange of a desert sunset.
A stroll along the deck reveals a string of private staterooms all separate, but equal with both expansive valley vistas and intimate hillside views.
Though built over 75 years ago, what worked then still works today. With windows that disappear into sills and doors that slide into walls, there is a sense of boundless freedom yet, the spaces are intimate and inviting.
But most important are the convivial hosts, Trina and Jonathan, who make every guest feel welcomed.