Modernist Midcentury Brought Back to Life: The Wave House

Midcentury Wave House

This 1950s Wave House blends right into its beautiful sub-tropical surroundings. Located in Palm Desert, California, the midcentury gem was designed and completed in 1955 by modernist architect Walter S. White for artist Miles C Bates. After some years of being completely unoccupied, Stayner Architects purchased the residence in 2018 and gave the home the appropriate retouches to bring it back to life.

After viewing the charismatic, although rundown house and learning about its history, the owners knew they had stumbled upon something too good to allow to slip by. It was at this point that the decision to revive the Barrett House began.

Midcentury Wave House
Midcentury Wave House

Right off the bat, the home’s wavy roof presents a dramatic impression. Over its close to six decades of existence, the Wave House has seen multiple occupants come and go and with that, alterations to the home’s design. It was during Palm Springs Modernism Week that Stayner Architects acquired the dwelling at an auctioned price of $360,000 with the intention to preserve its original form while making the necessary updates for modern standards of living. 

In line with the tropical desert climate of the area, the interior spaces feature a light color palette of clean white wooden paneling for the walls, grey tiled floors as well as natural stone detail which also adorns the exterior facade.  

Midcentury Wave House
Midcentury Wave House

The one bedroom house has a large open plan area including a living room, dining room and a kitchen. Large glass walls open from the living area into the garden, which is fenced for privacy. The breezy environment in combination with transparency and easy access between spaces create a seamless connection between inside and outside. Clerestory windows placed between the unique roof shape and exterior walls allow extra bits of natural light to pour in throughout the daytime.

Midcentury Wave House
Midcentury Wave House

According to Dezeen magazine, Stayner Architects examined old colour drawings of the project, which disclosed an originally blue exterior. Following these outlines, Stayner restored this original idea as well as removing layers of drywall inside, which in turn revealed the authentic wood panelling. 

Splashes of color appear throughout the 900 square foot dwelling, from the aforementioned blue to bright red graphic detail on the bedroom carpet and a pale turquoise kitchen. Matched with a great deal of natural wood, the overall sentiment is that of refreshing California cool.

Midcentury Wave House
Photos by Tim Hirschmann