Yet Vargas and Storey, who works in the entertainment industry, found much to redeem the property. Located on a one-acre lot that formed the cornerstone of the neighborhood, the home retained its original footprint as well as several period details such as the tongue and groove ceiling and platform fireplace. The U-shape building flanked a massive yard, embracing the landscape and surrounding mountains. “We are in the city five days per week and really love the fact that this home is all about outdoor living,” Vargas says. “Here you can be in a T-shirt and flip-flops 12 months of the year.”
Built in 1957 by Modernist architect John Porter Clark, this classic Palm Springs post and beam home came with a Hollywood star studded pedigree. William Holden and his lover Audrey Hepburn lived here, and Tippi Hedren began her big cat sanctuary in the backyard. But by the time Rodrigo Vargas and his partner Erik Storey purchased the 4,000 square-foot, three-bedroom home in 2012, the faded glory was ready for its close-up on “Sunset Boulevard.”
“It was a complete disaster,” says Vargas, a designer and principal of the hospitality firm Rodrigo Vargas Design, which works with hotel brands such as St. Regis, Hyatt and Starwood. “Post-and-beam structures can sometimes be delicate, and in the desert weather they really need to be cared for.” Several challenges faced the new owners, the roof was collapsing and none of the interior systems, which dated from the 1950s, functioned. The glass-walled structure was also unexpectedly dim, with dark brown finishes covering the beams and ceiling.
The first order of business: a complete gut job. Built with redwood, the home was then reinforced with steel supports, and all the systems including electrical and HVAC were replaced. “We started work, cleaning and stripping away years and years of bad decisions,” Vargas says. The outdoor lounge chairs are by Richard Schultz.