This stunning home in Indian Wells was designed by William Cody in 1961 and was restored by Interior Designer Jessy Moss of Jessy Moss Design.
We were excited to talk to Jessy about her love of midcentury design and her tips for other home renovators.
First of all, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
“I am an interior designer with a strong love for all things Mid-Century Modern and contemporary but I will go a bit of Spanish, Moroccan and Art Deco too.I have a background in the music industry, I am an audio engineer and a pilot but architecture interests me the most.
I am from Australia but have lived in the US for ages and I design interiors in both countries.My work has been featured on several Modernism Week Tours in Palm Springs.
My most recent restoration was awarded Indian Wells Historical Designation #4 and I was named the number one interior designer in Palm Springs California in 2019 by Locale Magazine.”
What got you interested in midcentury modern inspired interior design?
“I have always been interested in housing; how it works and why it sometimes doesn’t work (aesthetically or practically). I am drawn to MCM designs because of their simplicity and utility: Clean lines, post and beam construction, tongue and groove ceilings, large windows and the interplay with the home’s natural environment.“
“I am more of a minimalist than a maximalist and I find it easier to think in an uncluttered space. From an interiors perspective I love colour and fun so while i’m not a maximalist when it comes to an abundance of stuff I love colour and fun I don’t shy away from color.
MCM interiors give a lot of permission to have fun with furnishings & papers and they often have nature and entertainment at their core. I love Palm Springs for the hummingbirds and mountain vistas, the other worldliness of a desert night where it feels like you are under a hairdryer outside even at midnight. I like those extremes.”
What do you think was so special about this period in American design?
“The post war era had a sense of adventure and hopes for the future that are still evident today. This period created cutting edge design that is still lorded today, Mies Farnsworth House for example, but it also cranked out design for the masses.
Desert modern design – Alexander’s and Meiselman’s, with their 1200sqft footprint were essentially kit homes – they were for everyone even though they are collectable now they weren’t built for exclusivity.
I think good design should be for everyone, not just the elites. These homes were actually cost effective solutions to housing at the time and I think in the current climate we are ready for a new take on a small footprint kit home that responds to its environment and is high style in its simplicity instead of its complexity.
Homes that utilize readily available and cost effective materials. Whoever can solve that riddle and balance the aesthetics as effectively as the desert modernists did should do pretty well.“
How do you approach the interior design process?
“I look, and look and look some more before acting. If you’ve just purchased an MCM home I wouldn’t recommend launching straight into a big renovation immediately. Live with the space for a bit and you will discover what the house is truly after.“
Do you have any tips for people interested in adding midcentury design elements to their home? What should they pay attention to and why?
If you own a mid century home, and need more space consider an ADU as opposed to “extending” the original structure. A separate build has more liberty to be its own space and you cut out the risk of a botched renovation to the existing dwelling.
In general don’t tear out authentic items – keep, repair, clean and nurture them.
Sometimes though, this is impossible and the systems truly are at the end of their useful life. This could be that the plumbing is broken, electric is not working or the finish tile is cracked and just too tired to keep.
The framing behind the finish may be compromised or they have had strange renovations over the years – and sometimes its all of these.
In that case try to be sensitive to the original intent but overhaul the systems before reinstalling finish that is era appropriate.
Systems and conduits strapped on to the outside of the house can ruin a MCM home and so can large swamp or air conditioning units that can ruin the lines of a flat roof.“
Jessy was keen to not sound too prescriptive or mean but pointed out that there are “some pretty heinous self congratulatory remodels going on in Palm Springs and other desert cities.”
“Don’t go gimicky, don’t replace aluminum windows with vinyl windows for any reason and don’t convert your carport to a garage.
In general tile set should be running bond instead of subway set, please no more marble counters.
Cinder block fireplaces were used in many desert MCMs and should not be covered up or considered a design flaw. Don’t white wash fireplaces. Please don’t paint lava rock.”
We were keen to discover Jessy’s advice for mixing and matching vintage items with new.
“Thrift it up, it can feel like slim pickings out there but try anyway. All new furnishings look… all new”.
Finally, we wanted to find out the best approach for homeowners when starting out. One room or the whole house?
“Wait and watch, wait and watch and when you really know how the space lives then dive in. Try to value patina and age and don’t strip out all the original fixtures and hardware (it’s where the character hides).”
Most importantly, when selecting an interior designer to work with “Take your time and look for someone with a design aesthetic you can trust.”
Something that proves abundantly clear when we see the results of this Cody renovation.
Photos by Bethany Nauert