Steve and I were recently lucky enough to buy a second home in the playground of California, the cosmopolitan desert oasis of Palm Springs. If you’ve never been, it’s a town full of fun & funky desert modern style, with internationally known mid century architecture and design, great restaurants, music and museums to be had. Did we mention swimming pools and palm trees? Swimming pools, and palm trees. We could probably stop there, and you would already be booking with Airbnb, but there is more… For those us who love decorating, there is the quintessential Palm Springs design style, known all around the world. And it is one of a kind. For us, when we bought this townhouse (lifelong dream of Steve’s, new dream of mine!) we knew that even though we loved its modern clean lines, gorgeous windows, and lovely finishes… it had to have a good dose of that desert modernism, Palm Springs style. So if you are a PS lover, and want to bring that style into your own space, here are some easy ways to create a modern desert home, with some mid century modern decor ideas to spice up each room. Even if you aren’t right down the street from L.A.’s secret playground. ;)
Bring That Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Style into Your Home
The great thing about desert modernism is that you can use a little mid century decor, or a lot, depending on your taste. We took some of the best elements of desert modern, Palm Springs style, and mid century modern and used them in our living areas, our master bedroom, and our guest room space, but maintained a more modern backdrop. That is the backbone of desert modernism… a symbiotic melding of MCM and desert modern. Some people prefer to go all out, Christopher Kennedy style! Do what works for you – a tiny touch of MCM, or a velvet walled color fest that makes you want to put on your smoking jacket and make a martini. Here are some great ways to get that Palm Springs Mid Century Modern look in your home! And BTW, it doesn’t have to cost a lot either. A lot of the elements of Palm Springs style can be done on any budget!
Note : You will find a resource on where to find many of the furnishings and decor in these rooms at the bottom of the post.
Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Living Room Ideas
Desert Modernism, Palm Springs Style! Before and After
Starting with our living areas, let’s count down the five elements of Palm Springs style that you can use to inspire that same chic design in your space. Our townhome was partially finished when we bought it, but to show you how a rough space can be made wonderful with a little inspiration, here is a before and after of our open concept living room.
#1 – Palm Springs Design needs good lighting!
We chose a really cool modern chandelier for the main living room from West Elm, you can see a touch of it in the very top photo. We love that chandelier, because it makes such a statement. That would be our top tip for lighting… it is NOT just about light! Make it grand, make it modern, then build around it. The two pendant lights are mid century style, and we picked those up at West Elm as well. All really affordable options, too!
#2 – Palm Springs Style is all about color, baby!
If you aren’t comfortable with color, then Palm Springs mid century modern is probably not the style for you. Pops of bright, funky and fun color is the hallmark of the desert modernism style. Note though, with modern desert decor, color is set against a neutral backdrop… here is where the fresh and modern feel comes in to play. Thats what we love about this style! It’s very fun, very chic, and very sophisticated at the same time. So you will see our color palette throughout the house of oranges, blues, pinks and yellows. We used different measures of each color in different rooms. Some rooms are more reserved, like the master, and some have more colorful mid century style, like the living spaces. What’s the takeway? Be bold, or go home. Bold and colorful wall art against a white wall, colorful or textural area rugs, and pillow covers, of course, to jazz it up with a jolt of color and texture. Oh, and the color white? A must have!
#3 – Desert Modernism requires desert plants.
Which is fine, because the cacti and succulent craze is real, and it sure works here. Notice we used just a few large, focal point plants and a few smaller cacti. All are in modern containers, for a clean look. We have them throughout the house, but our huge Bird of Paradise (meet Lucy) in the front foyer area is kinda our pride and joy. :) Check out the nurseries that the landscapers use. They seem to be way cheaper.
Speaking of plants, bringing the outside in with plants is important too. We planted Bougainvillea on the patio outside the living area, and we hung art to bring that fuchsia color right inside. Love our “Bougies”! You could just put one in a planter, or hang Mandevilla or another tropical flower in hanging pots outside your windows for the same effect. Curious about the outdoor space? Check out our post on the patios, at Get the Palm Springs Modern Patio Look!
These cacti? Walmart and Home Depot. They always seem to have a pretty good selection and good prices on the smaller cacti! The cute little white modern pots come in a set of three from ‘CB2‘, for less than $15!
#4 – Mid Century Modern Decor ideas – Bring the “flavor”.
If you really want a Palm Springs style design, then mid Century modern decor is a must. Even if your homes’ architecture isn’t MCM, no biggie. The fun touches of whimsy with MCM decor will work with any style. Just blend it with a more modern background for the desert home look! The blue “bullet” planter is kind of a feature decor piece that just screams Hollywood resort style, 1960. Steve picked up the mid century ceramic cats and the blue tray at a local vintage market.
All the photographs on canvas were taken by Steve, right here in Palm Springs, of some of the famous PS instagram spots around town. ‘Limitless Walls‘ took the photos and printed them on wrapped canvas, and we have one in nearly every room of the house! This tip is an easy one… take some colorful, abstract style photos, and have them printed into large art. The bigger the better. You can have it done online by just uploading your photos. Easy, and not expensive. ‘Limitless Walls’ is just getting ready to launch their canvas print service, so it might not be available yet. But they have removable wall murals and wallpaper that can also add an awesome style punch to your rooms! We actually plan on using several of their wallpapers with a mid century modern pattern in our bathrooms next.
#5 – Add Palm Springs Modernism with area rugs!
Area rugs are a great way to add color, texture and pattern to any room, and they can make the difference between a design that is interesting and captivating, and one that falls flat. In some areas of the house, we choose to add texture, like this white rug we added to the upstairs TV room from ‘Amazon‘. We’ve actually had this rug through two houses now, and it is awesome. One of the softest, plushest rugs I’ve ever snuggled my bare toes into.
Photo of the iconic Ace Hotel here in Palm Springs printed onto a canvas again from ‘Limitless Walls’.
Palm Springs Desert Modernism Bedroom Ideas
Palm Springs Style Bedroom Before and After
Well, of course we did get a nice head start with the walls of glass, but here we go again, with the five elements of Palm Springs style, bedroom edition! Here’s the before and after of our master bedroom!
#1 – Lighting is essential for Palm Springs modernism.
We actually had some vintage mid century modern lamps that we spray painted white, and added modern shades to. They were kind of an outdated bright orange, which we sorta loved but weren’t right for the space. The organic shape of these lamps is so pretty, and you could pick up similar light fixtures at a thrift shop for just a few dollars. Spray paint is a miracle in a bottle, right? We went for a gloss finish for a more modern feel. This is after we tried a matte grey. Another nice thing about paint… you can re-paint! Oh, and I know this is the lighting tip, but we also added those MCM legs to our nightstands. Little details make a difference, and it was inexpensive.
#2 – Color for our Palm Springs modernism home design!
In our master bedroom, we wanted a more soothing color scheme, so we went with an MCM golden yellow, tempered with modern white and charcoal grey. You still feel like you have color, but it’s restful and classy. The square frames with the wide mats are a good way to add a modern touch. Geometric pattern like the ones in the rug and the pillow are mid century modern decor true and true.
#3 & #4 – Add Desert Plants and mid century decor!
You really can’t have Palm Springs Style without both of these things! Potting up our cacti in modern pots helped make the transition to desert modernism, and the mid century decor gave the room personality.
#5 – Area Rugs for the win!
This room would have been boring without a pop of color and pattern. We chose a mid century modern rug from ‘Well Woven‘ and everyone who sees this room is in love. We’ve used ‘Well Woven’ before in our Boho Style Home Reveal in our Washington state condo, because their rugs are affordable and durable. But seriously, they are also super pretty!
Colorful Palm Springs Style Guest Room
We wanted our guest room here in Palm Springs to have an Airbnb kinda feel, so our guests would feel like they were on vacation. (It is Palm Springs, after all!) But you can do this no matter where you live! Don’t your guests deserve to feel that way? This room has lots of color, a little Boho desert flavor, another super soft rug from ‘Well Woven‘, and inexpensive accents. Once again, the large, colorful wall art grounds the room with a fun feel. The cactus pillow is an easy DIY (watch for the tutorial) and the throw pillow covers echo the colors of the art.
Another touch of Boho desert modern decor is the serape blanket at the foot of the bed, and it contrasts amazingly with the velvet quilt. Notice the quilt and the area rug are softer colors, and we let the art and accessories be the stars of the room.
We hope you love our home as much as we do, and that you got inspired to add some Palm Springs mid century modern design elements to your space! Maybe you can’t live in a desert modern home in paradise, but you can bring it into your own house and enjoy the funk and fun of Palm Springs modernism every day! Also check out our posts on Glam Gold DIY Projects and then jump on over to our sister site for tons more great ideas for Palm Springs style… like 15 Swanky Mid Century Modern DIY Projects and DIY Terrazzo Inspired Projects. And if you plan on visiting Palm Springs, you will want to check out our posts on 12 Coolest Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Doors, Everything You Want to Know About the Palm Springs Tramway, (a must do!) and Best Hikes & Things to Do In Joshua Tree. (Also, a must do! Bring your camera!)
Living Room/ Kitchen
Canvas Wall Art – Limitless Walls
Globe Pendant Lights – West Elm
Mid Century Storage Bench – Wayfair
(Under the TV… we replaced the original pulls with brass MCM style ones.)
Small White Planter Pot Set – CB2
Orange & Turquoise Pillow Covers – Amazon
White Shag Rug – Amazon
Wall Picture Frames – Crate & Barrel
Perla Gold Modern Area Rug – Well Woven
Small White Planter Pot Set – CB2
Tribal Moroccan Pink Shag Area Rug – Well Woven
Canvas Wall Art – Limitless Walls
Serape Blanket – Amazon