A Renovation Journey to Revive Donald Wexler’s Modernist Aesthetic

Introducing the Palm Springs Residence by Steven Harris Architects, working with interior and landscape design firm Rees Roberts + Partners

Built in 1957 by Donald Wexler, a key architect in California’s Coachella Valley, this home is a prime example of Desert Modernism. The recent restoration blends Wexler’s original design with modern updates.

Donald Wexler, known for his innovative use of steel and modern materials, left a significant mark on Palm Springs architecture. His designs are characterized by clean lines, flat roofs, and harmony with the desert environment, making his work iconic in the midcentury modern aesthetic.

Also called the “Charney Residence,” it was originally owned by Sydney Charney, a Milwaukee attorney, and his wife, Rachel. The home is strategically positioned to offer stunning views of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, featuring a cross-shaped layout and a terrace lined with palm trees.

The restoration removed a large 1970s addition that didn’t match the original style. This renovation brought back the home’s charm, focusing on elements like the restored terrazzo bathrooms and the revitalized floor planter in the living room. The kitchen now blends modern functionality with vintage appliances. 

The architects followed Wexler’s original plans closely, improving air-conditioning and insulation to keep the architectural integrity while adding modern comfort.

A Brazilian rosewood wall is a striking feature in the living room. The master bedroom includes a vintage headboard by Italian designer Gio Ponti. In the master bathroom, a sunken terrazzo bathtub is complemented by sliding glass doors leading to a private patio with an outdoor shower. 

The landscape, originally designed by Garrett Eckbo, was carefully restored by David Kelly of Rees Roberts & Partners, following Eckbo’s plans. The landscape features terrazzo terraces, palm trees, jacarandas, and geometric shapes, with new drought-tolerant and water-efficient plants.

The house makes a strong first impression with a rock privacy wall around the carport and a pergola walkway to the front door. Jalousie windows add elegance to the entrance. 

The garage houses a rotating collection of the owner’s vintage Porsches. Inside, custom designs by Rees Roberts mixed with vintage pieces create a stylish and relaxed atmosphere.

Photos by Scott Frances