Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

How To

Palm Springs Modernist Landscapes

Palm Springs in California is synonymous with sleek, modern houses built in the 1950’s and 60’s. Designed to embrace and celebrate the desert environment and dramatic cinematic landscape of the Coachella Valley these mid-century modern homes offer the perfect balance and transition between indoor and outdoor living.

To create the perfect modernist Palm Springs landscape, there are so many considerations. I’ve compiled some of these to inspire you to create the perfect outdoor oasis – fit for cool winters and simmering summers.

Concrete Flooring

The use of concrete slab flooring is imperative when designing for a Palm Springs aesthetic. Concrete flooring between the interior and the exterior will combine the living areas- both the inside and out, expanding the overall visual footprint of the home. By using a texture concrete with speckled pigmentations, this will allow for some interest underfoot as well as the ability to select colours from the flooring and distribute them throughout the rest of the space- creating a sense of cohesion throughout the space. Polished concrete is my top pick. Not only is it a conduit of heat, it gives a warm glow and the polished render gives an understated elegance aesthetic.

High Garden Walls with adjacent Garden Beds

Garden Walls are another important inclusion when designing for a Palm Springs Oasis. The high garden walls give the outdoor space a room like quality, further emphasizing the integration of indoor and outdoor living. In terms of materiality and colour, keep it simple and natural. High linear garden walls of painted brick and concrete give a slim line and modernist aesthetic. Line the walls with grid like gardens, mimicking the structure and formation of the walls themselves, using multiple cactus’ and hardy plants with an architectural shape- Barrel Cactus and Palms are my absolute favorite. To finish, create a pebble border to complete the look.

Art and Sculptures

If you are short on space doesn’t allow for tall plants, perhaps opt for an art or sculptural piece as they to play a significant role in the decoration of a Palm Springs outdoor living environment. Sculptural spheres and hanging chairs are my top pick as they are both practical for taking in the surrounding view, but also look like striking pieces of modern sculpture.

Architectural Elements

Atriums, open-air roofs and glass doors are also signature architectural features to consider when designing for a Palm Springs Outdoor Environment. They are perfect additions to your home as they evoke a modernist design quality whilst providing an immediate connection between the interior and the exterior. The entrance and the connection between the indoor and outdoor living spaces are perfect places to introduce this element- the floor to ceiling glass panels and doors expand the space and give the illusion of a larger living environment.


Colour is another important element to consider when design for a Palm Springs living environment. Pops of saturated colour are my top pick as they are intuitive and exciting ways of adding personality into your space. Position them correctly as it will not only serve as a backdrop to your plants, but act as a visual queue- drawing your attention towards the spectacular view. Consider the views at night as well, fireplaces give the sense of an outdoor living environment- perfect on a cool winters night. Water features and signature lighting are secondary elements used to enhance an outdoor entertainment setting.

Caitlan N

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