Marrakesh Makeover
John Cialone of Chicago-based Tom Stringer Design Partners, Creates a Color-infused Residence in Palm Desert

Text By Vanessa Kogevinas
Photography by Jorge Gera

Nestled in the exclusive Palm Desert enclave of Marrakesh Country Club, sits a newly renovated, cheerfully elegant home that offers a perfect respite for a couple and their extended family.

While Marrakesh's notoriously pink Hollywood-Regency-style residences can not undergo exterior transformations—architect John Elgin Woolf's design, as well as the community's integrity as a whole, are highly regarded—the interiors can be customized and played with.

"We took it down to the studs, and the walls and partitions were reconfigured to suit the client's needs," says interior designer John Cialone of Chicago-based Tom Stringer Design Partners, who worked with Los Angeles-based architect Steven V. Harrel and La Quinta-based contractor Tom Kennedy to achieve those goals.

"We wanted a 'playhouse,' where we could enjoy the desert with our family and friends," says the client. The 2,500 square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom sun-drenched residence, which is the second of two adjacent houses that the couple owns, is colorful and lively, yet refined. "We chose to play up the natural light that comes in," says Cialone, "and the color scheme is all about bringing hues found outside in—like bold and leafy greens, corals and oranges."

"I love the green kitchen," says the resident. "It's an outrageous color that makes me laugh every time I enter the house. Of course, my husband loves the media room—a fine place for him and his buddies to watch their Super Bowl." The media room actually being a third bedroom converted.

The client's directive of 'crisp, light and bright' was anchored using bleached oak flooring, reflecting the brightness versus absorbing it. To the same end, almost everything in the house is painted allowing for the abundant natural light to bounce around. Tile selections are vivid white and mirrors are maximized where possible.

The floorplan prioritizes privacy with the master suite and media room at one end of the residence and the guest bedroom and its full bath, which doubles as a powder room, at the other end. The open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area form the heart of the house and a front courtyard and back terrace expand the living spaces to the outside.

Most of the furnishings are new, but carefully curated to appear collected over time. Patterns, solids and textures are artfully combined to create movement and whimsy, while keeping the overall tone calm and relaxing. Striking art pieces complete the spaces.

In the end, the Marrakesh residences and this renovation has provided a family exactly what they need—a place to play and a place for both intimate and large gatherings. "They are the perfect size," notes the resident. "Open and airy, high ceilings and access to the outdoors."