Sight Unseen


Designer Holly Reeves of RGH Designs curates a colorful vacation home from afar

A Room and Board sofa fills the family room. Photos by Public 311 Design.

“This stunning Mid-century modern home is located in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood in Palm Springs,” says Holly Reeves, founder and principal of RGH Designs. “Built in 1957 by the Alexander Construction company, this 2,900-square-foot-home is just what you imagine when you picture classic Palm Springs architecture.” A known enclave for celebrities and design enthusiasts, her clients were attracted to the captivating mountain views and regal palm trees.

The blue-hued kitchen features a chandelier by Peared Creations. Photos by Public 311 Design.

Originally hired to transform the clients’ main residence is San Francisco, Reeves was brought on to help realize their dream desert home. “Through multiple renovations and projects, such as recovery from burst pipes, updating the home to accommodate growing kids and helping them plan and host their children’s Bat Mitzvahs, they have become dream clients,” says Reeves. “In 2020, Luke told me that they had done something crazy and purchased a second home in Palm Springs.”

In the dining room, a table by Ethnicraft sits below Hermes scarves hung in custom acrylic frames.
Photos by Public 311 Design.

During the pandemic the clients spent a lot of time in the desert and fell in love with the neighborhood but were not immediately in love with the house that they have since affectionately named Blue Rock. . “The classic mid-century home—while beautiful from the front—had been poorly modified over the years and was in desperate need of many updates,” she recalls. “However, the location was ideal and the shallow pitched roof, clean lines and generous windows are the perfect compliment to the front facade.”

Once owned by Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse, Reeves drew inspiration from how they might have entertained. “We imagined them entertaining other famous actors and sipping martinis by the pool, a vignette right out of a classic Slim Aarons photograph of Palm Springs,” she says. The clients wanted the quintessential Palm Springs feel without being too literal. “They wanted 1950s desert chic with a comfortable, modern twist.  Their main priority was a home filled with bright colors and fun details, a space that felt glamorous and approachable at the same time.”

In the living room, wallpaper for Milton & King adds dimensions of blues while the Burl wood coffee tables made by her uncle add organic tones. Photos by Public 311 Design.
Green and white tiles by Lili douse the powder room in color. Photos by Public 311 Design.

What set the design direction throughout was a robin’s egg blue face Rolex and two beautiful Hermes scarves. “It’s a tradition in their family for each home to have a Hermes scarf displayed as a work of art,” she remarks. “This has been a fun task as we have designed their homes over the years. For Palm Springs, we chose to hang two scarves in the dining room, floating in acrylic frames for a more modern look and feel. The bold colors and whimsical characters complimented the space perfectly.”

Because she worked extensively with the family over the years, they trusted her implicitly with all of the selections without approvals. “After a few rounds of presentations they literally said ‘Do your thing, we trust you’. Talk about dream clients,” she says. “My team scoured vintage markets all over California and worked with artisans and local stores to create and discover unique treasures.”

The jewel-toned bed in the primary bedroom is from Rove Concepts. Photos by Public 311 Design.
A vibrant rug from Nomad in San Francisco adds warmth in the primary bathroom. Photos by Public 311 Design.
Photos by Public 311 Design.

The biggest challenge Reeves faced with this renovation was timing. The bulk of construction and installation occurred during the lockdown making it hard for her team to monitor the process. “A quick pop-in to check on the construction progress wasn’t an option,” she recalls. “We even showed up for the big install after driving all day and the kitchen appliances were still in the middle of the living room. There was sheetrock dust everywhere and some bathrooms still didn’t have toilets.”

An outdoor sofa from RH and tables by CB2 surround the pool. Photos by Public 311 Design.

The extended timeline heightened the excitement for the big reveal. “I wasn’t able to be onsite for their first walk through, but I was getting text messages and photos from them all day as they saw the space,” she says. “There were many fun surprises for them to discover throughout. We even found a vintage copy of the book that Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin wrote to adorn their coffee table.”