February 21, 2014
Home Tour: A Retro-Influenced International Abode
The Dossier: NAME: Stephen Collins. TRADE: Writer, collector, designer, and television host of Bravo's Property Envy VIBE: Decidedly midcentury modern with ethnic and eclectic accents ABODE: A 1970s single story abode with mountain views and garden access from all three bedrooms. A true Renaissance man and "semi-nomadic bon vivant", Stephen Collins has had careers as an art historian, designer, hotelier, television personality and writer. Also known as the face of last summer's Bravo show Property Envy, he most recently hosted a series of short videos in honour of Palm Springs Modernism Week entitled Man About Modernism. In the clips, he takes viewers inside some choice midcentury gems to discuss the design style, its elements, and the unique culture of midcentury hot-spot, Palm Springs. It's a fitting role for Collins, as a little over a year ago, after his first visit to the city to film a television show for the BBC, he decided on the spot he would own a midcentury house in the resort town. "It's a style and philosophy that really lends itself to an ease of living," Collins says about the design style that he finds so appealing. "Personally, I think it's one that is particularly well suited to the heat and to vacationing, or part-time living." Now his primary residence, Collins take us inside his '70s-era home to share more about his love for Palm Springs, his home's midcentury influences, and the collection of global treasures within. Looking for a respite from his many travels and busy life, Collins was immediately intrigued by the desert city's calm charm. "Palm Springs is a resort town. I have lived in many: on the French Riviera, in Palm Beach, and in Morocco," Collins shares. "Resorts allow for dreams to be fulfilled because they are bubbles; they bear little resemblance to reality, and therefore permit whimsy and folly. "Anything goes," as one particularly famous American once put it!" The city is the perfect setting for a home filled with whimsical touches, bright accents, and midcentury flair. "The richness of Palm Springs' history lends a sense of purpose and being to life here," he says. "There's a long history of people coming here to experience a casual lifestyle, comfort, and seamless indoor-outdoor living."
To capitalise on that comfortable lifestyle, Collins bought a two bedroom, two bath home with striking curb appeal and promptly brought the interior down to its studs. By removing walls, streamlining the hallways, and adding an additional bedroom suite, Collins created a space much more apt to the ease of living he was after. "It is now a home with a much more efficient use of space and a far more elegant flow," he shares. By installing striking Phillip Jeffries grasscloth wallcoverings throughout the space and adding an eye catching and quintessentially midcentury terazzo floor, Collins personalised the home in his own aesthetic, while respecting the traditions of the region's predominant style.
To furnish the space, Collins decided it was high time to unite the many elements of his life-long furniture and accessory collection in one place. Shipping five containers full of treasures from various European ports through the Panama Canal, Collins set up a warehouse to stash his finds. "They have been a part of my life, my adventures, and my world travels for so long, some as far back as the age of 15," he describes. Selecting the exact items for his new home proved to be quite the challenge. Pulling from his truly global collection, Collins layered in objects and textiles from various cultures and time periods. "I particularly like the ebony busts of two African Bambara people. Precious, rare, raw, and yet glamorous," he describes. "The small gueridon by Gilbert Poillerat, a small water colour of Constantinople, and the tribal fabric that covers my bed and headboard are a small sampling of my favourites." Lacking the space to include everything, Collins continues to store his finds in the aforementioned warehouse, ultimately hoping to open a showroom in which to showcase his curated collection.
After a hefty renovation and mentally gruelling decoration, the resulting space is a testament to the laid-back Palm Springs lifestyle. Shaded by the property's 39 palm trees ("unheard of for a property this size") and with access to numerous outdoor living spaces, Collins has created a home perfect for kicking back and relaxing. Just what this globally minded man-about-town needs.
Have you visited Palm Springs recently? Tweet us your favourite spots for antiquing and enjoying the desert sun at @DomaineHome.
Photographs: Daniel Chavkin and Christine Kim for Modernism Week.
|Bertoia Diamond Lounge Chair, $1132, DWR||Abbot Zinc Top Table, $1499, Pottery Barn||Midcentury Leather Recliner, $3795, 1st Dibs|
|Grasscloth Manila Hemp #5279, Price Upon Request, Phillip Jeffries||Palm Beach Sofa, $1750, 1st Dibs||Chain Link Grasscloth #5642, Price Upon Request, Phillip Jeffries|
|Bolivian Frazada Rug/Blanket, $310, The Loaded Trunk||Lacquer Block Cocktail Table, $1750, Jonathan Adler||Moroccan Brass Tray Table, $1850, 1st Dibs|