Ease On Down The Road


Designer Mark Nichols brings a Palm Springs vibe to Rancho Mirage 

INTERIOR DESIGNER MARK NICHOLS is seeing a trend in Riverside County. “Buyers are looking for a piece of the Palm Springs lifestyle and often end up searching down the highway in Rancho Mirage, where deals can be had and square footage is generous,” he says.

That was the situation for his Canadian clients: a couple seeking a place to escape cold weather who purchased a 1970s dwelling. But when Nichols viewed photos of their new home online, he was baffled. “It seemed ho-hum. They are a dynamic couple and I couldn’t figure out what drew them to it,” he says. However, a site visit explained it all. “What they saw, and I saw too, were the great bones and orientation of the house,” Nichols says. “However, with a shake roof, generous overhangs and wood siding, it reminded me more of a Pacific Northwest Craftsman than a desert home.”
The designer had plans that would make it livable for a local. “We gave it a crisp, urban feeling with an overlay of modernity and a contemporary color palette,” says Nichols.

The first step was to take the house down to the studs and rearrange the floor plan, bringing in a more egalitarian layout. “They had a large master suite and two small guest rooms,” says Nichols. The new interior made way for a defined entry and a pair of en suite bedrooms. A dining room that was tucked away in a niche became part of an open-plan kitchen, living and dining room. “Here in the desert, having a dining room with no windows is anathema,” Nichols says. “You want to eat with views.” The new kitchen was re-envisioned to accommodate casual dining with a freestanding island that sits at a 90-degree angle to the peninsula. Slabs of white Statuario polished PentalQuartz make up the countertops and go up and over the island. “I wanted it to be furniture-like,” he says.

Today the house fits the clients in a way that no one would question. “It is energetic, just like the owners and their two boys,” Nichols says. “It’s a wonderful getaway during the brutal Alberta winters.”