The butterfly-shaped roof of a Palm Springs, California, Alexander home can be the most beautiful thing on the street, but when Darren Manson of design management firm MODify Palm Springs saw this home in a dilapidated state, he knew he had his work cut out for him—including a new paint job, completely revamped landscaping and the addition of a truly unique architectural feature.

Palm Springs curb appeal renovation before
Before. Needless to say, without any color or landscaping to speak of, this Palm Springs ranch needed some serious TLC.

“In the neighborhood it was in, it had great bones and all the potential,” he says. “It just needed the time and design to get it there.” And the first consideration was the color. After stripping off a bad ornament detail on the original midcentury door, Darren discovered the original Tiffany blue color of the door and inspiration struck. He went with a pigmentless white paint for the exterior for brightness and used a deep gray to accentuate all of the architectural moments, particularly the roof.

Then, he refreshed the blue door and the whole home came together. For Darren, picking the right color “is a mix of what was period for the house and modern influences. The house will lend itself to what color it wants to be.”

Palm Springs ranch curb appeal renovation after
After. With midcentury homes, you want their architecture to shine, so don’t hide them behind an array of bushes. For desert homes, stick to rock- or granite-based land- scape for a nice, clean look.

From there, landscaping was key. With considerable space between the house and the sidewalk to consider, as well as the Palm Springs climate, the landscape presented a unique challenge for Darren. Taking cues from current drought-tolerant trends, he opted to design a landscape that was minimal on maintenance while keeping a consistent look. Using decomposed granite as his base, Darren used native plants, such as barrel cactus and agave, for the perfect xeriscaping.

There was just one thing missing: “The front of the house was so plain, it begged for some detail,” Darren says. Taking inspiration from a room divider inside the house, he built up a custom architectural feature for the external wall. Building a small stem wall with concrete blocks, he patterned out 2x4s into a simple architectural screen. As a finishing touch, he installed lights behind the screen as well as in front of the statement agave to highlight the crowning features of the home at night. As Darren explains, “Lighting coming from different areas gets you bang for your buck and really creates drama.”


This is part two of a three-part series of home facelift stories, originally published in the 2016 edition of the Atomic Ranch Renovation Guide.