What does it take for a truly relaxing getaway? For some people, it is communing with nature. For other travelers, these are the spa services. For the weekends, it can be a home away from home. For Todd Feldman, film and television agent at Creative Artists Agency, it was not having to choose. Her seven-bedroom, 9,200-square-foot vacation home at the private Madison Club in La Quinta, Calif., Designed by Kovac Design Studio and completed in 2020, is Palm Springs pad as a boutique hotel, with Mad Men flourishes and a museum-worthy outdoor awning, a bar ready for Out of sight– seduction level, and a stocked concession stand for Fight Night.
“A lot of times when you’re lucky enough to be invited to someone’s house there’s that little bit of awkwardness,” says Feldman. “You get up in the morning, and if you’re an early riser like me, you’ve been standing by the coffee machine and haven’t brushed your teeth yet.” Or even when you’re having a good night’s sleep, some people want to go to bed a little earlier. There is a push-pull.
Michael Kovac Design Studio and Thomas Schneider of Kovac Design Studio made sure there was no discomfort late at night or early in the morning by arranging the house as a central double-height gathering space with adjacent, separate bedrooms by outdoor walkways and planted courtyards for visual and sound privacy. Each “casita” has its own bathroom, coffee maker and mini-fridge, as well as an outdoor shower; Feldman had fun topping them with his favorite products, from oat milk to Fever Tree cocktail mixers. Downstairs there is a generous gym with an adjacent massage studio and changing room. But the main event is a six-bed, walnut-paneled bunk room adored by Feldman’s nine-year-old son, but also fun for adult sleepovers. (Each bunk has a charging port, reading light, and beverage rack.) “It could be juice boxes or rosé in the fridge over there,” says Feldman, according to the age of the guests of the residence.
The five-piece assembly is linked by the 5,000 square foot sun shade, which is made up of panels of a standard aluminum foam product originally developed as an acoustic material. “We initially hoped to make a canopy on the model of a cholla cactus skeleton“Says Kovac.” We did a lot of research into how we might get this model, but then budget reality came into play. “A solution came when they looked up, noticing the ceiling material of the conference room in their office.The result is striking in the penetrating light of the desert, casting dappled shadows on the sand-colored walls and the poured concrete floors and living up to its inspiration: the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel In the evening, a lighting system programmed by Lux Populi synchronized to the sunset slowly reveals the warm lights integrated into the canopy, creating a candlelight glow from above.
Shade also frames a breathtaking view of the mountains on the golf course on which the property backs onto. (“It’s a bit ironic, since Todd isn’t a golfer,” Kovac says, “but it’s fun for his friends.”) If the mountain view is reminiscent of “a big screen cinema,” like the Kovac said, the front oculus is more of a James Turrell moment, with the architecture focusing and filtering the light emanating from above. “If there is too much sky, it dilutes your attention,” he notes.
Inside the house, warm tones, Mid-Century furniture and tactile fabrics predominate, from the bronze mesh curtains to the expansive Patricia Urquiola Tufty Time velvet sofa to vintage Pierre Paulin chairs re-upholstered in wool. The walls are full plaster in a shade that was developed on-site by looking at the colors of the desert, as “the large expanses of white plaster get tiring,” Kovac explains. Indoor-outdoor fabrics have also been specified in many places, considering the easy going back and forth between the edge of the pool and the indoors when the back wall is left open, as it is most of the time. .
The 10-by-17-foot screen in the upstairs media room is actually a motorized wall, which swings to reveal a balcony waiting for a DJ and generous surface area for showing movies. Feldman is as likely to have basketball or Ultimate Fighting Championship matches as he has to screen classics of French cinema, making it the most fabulous sports bar in the desert.
What surprised Feldman the most about the house? “It has always been designed to be both a vacation home and a place of entertainment,” he says. “But during the pandemic, it was my primary residence for much of that time. There is just this warmth and calm. The sunsets and the balmy nights, sitting by the pool, it is really very peaceful.
Stylized by Anita sarsidi
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
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