When Hollywood was in its heyday, old-school film celebs built their Palm Springs celebrity homes to live their real lives in between the days and weeks spent on set. Although sets and locations served as fantasy spinners, feeding average Americans the stuff of dreams, Palm Springs was where tinsel town notables let their hair down and turned the desert lifestyle into an art form.
Although you may not be able to completely replicate all of the iconic elements of Palm Springs living back at home, you can certainly bring some of that flavor home — and a good way to jump-start that process is to visit existing Palm Springs homes that exemplify the glamourous traditions created by tinsel town trendsetters. There are over 600 celebrity homes in Greater Palm Springs. Following are just a few iconic Palm Springs homes to inspire you.
Situated at 470 Vista Chino, the Kaufman House embodies the artistic vision and superior stylistic skill of mid-century architect Richard Neutra. Neutra’s goal was to provide a seamless connection to the surrounding desert environment while at the same time cocooning inhabitants from the harsh realities of desert living. Sliding glass walls bring the desert practically indoors, while the home’s exterior is done in shades of desert rock to blend in with the surrounding terrain.
Commissioned in 1946 by department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufman, the home was first used as a vacation getaway and was eventually purchased by pop star Barry Manilow in the 1970s. Married couple and architects Brent and Beth Harris renovated the home in the 1990s, restoring it to its initial luster and charm.
The Kaufman House features five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a pool with a separate pool house, and sits on two-and-a-half acres. The home was auctioned off by the venerable Christie’s like a work of art in the year 2007. Many top critics consider the Kaufman House to be among the most architecturally significant homes of the 20th century, in the same league with greats such as Pennsylvania’s Falling Water.
This home, at 1148 East Alejo Rd, was designed by architect E. Stewart Williams after Frank Sinatra made his first million dollars in the year 1947 and helped transform these sleepy little desert towns into one of the planet’s most popular getaway destinations for jet-setting luminaries. Because of its proximity to Hollywood, however, Pam Springs became more than a vacation destination, and Sinatra’s show business peers soon followed suit and purchased desert estates of their own. World class amenities such as the region’s famous golf courses and top-tier restaurants, boutiques, and spas weren’t far behind.
Sinatra’s House was E. Stewart William’s first privately commissioned home, but he knew what worked in desert environments. Frank Sinatra had his sights set on a Georgian-style mansion complete with antebellum columns and several stories, but Williams was able to steer his illustrious client in the direction of something more appropriate to life in the sometimes harsh climate conditions of the desert. The finished product was long and low, becoming the unofficial blueprint for much of the home construction that followed.
With post-war Hollywood glamour in full swing, the Sinatra House became the scene of star-studded parties where the cocktails flowed. It’s rumored that Sinatra would put a flag in front of his house so that neighbors would know when to drop by for a drink. How neighborly!
Remnants of Sinatra’s personality still exist on the property today — the piano-shaped swimming pool remains as well as the numerous celebrity portraits that line the interior walls, including two of Marilyn Monroe. Sinatra’s enthusiasm for trains is also well-represented, with both large and small train sets found both inside and outside of the various buildings on the property.
Located at 457 Hermosa Place in Palm Springs, Ann Miller’s house is what many people imagine a quintessential Hollywood home to be. Ceramic roofing caps a two-toned, two-story home surrounded by a lush expanse of velvety green lawn. Ann Miller decided against having new construction built. So, she bought an existing property in Palm Springs. The home she chose was built in 1928. But, she added her own Hollywood-era touches, which many think are timeless. With palm trees dotting the lawn, this home exudes the ambiance of a classic oasis paradise. Its current occupants are Robert and Toni Kramer, and the property is among the most expensive in the area.
This legendary rat-packer was one of the last of the Hollywood elite to make the move to the desert when he bought his gorgeous Palm Springs home located at 1123 Monte Vista. Father and son architect team George and Robert Alexander created this luxurious mid-century marvel. Like almost all other homes built for life in the desert, this house lies low and blends in with the surrounding topography. Boulders, green grass, and tall palm trees provide the perfect frame for this home, which is sometimes still referred to as ‘Dino’s Den.’ The crooner’s grandchildren were common fixtures on the estate, often setting up lemonade stands on the curb and selling refreshments to curious onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of their famous grandfather.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley lived here in luxury during the first year of their marriage in 1966 — hence the ‘honeymoon house’ designation. At the time, the home was considered the ultimate in extravagant living and even featured automatic rain for those times when the mood calls for a break from relentless desert sunshine. The also home features some Egyptian motifs, which is likely what people thought of as desert-ish at the time.
The Presley’s were preceded by Robert and Helene Alexander, who made the most of the property by throwing numerous, over-the-top gatherings. The Alexanders completely renovated the home with pleasure and luxury in mind. During its time, it was considered a forward-thinking ‘home of the future.’
Commissioned by renowned interior designer Arthur Elrod from architect John Lautner and built in 1968, the Elrod House is located high on a hill at 2175 Southridge Drive in Palm Springs. The home combines the elements of nature with the building itself. For instance, when the house was built, the large rocks on the building site were left in place and became part of the home’s interior. However, the home is best known for its circular concrete and glass canopy over the main living space. Other features include a heated pool immediately outside the living room doors and a terrace that features a stunning view of Palm Springs against the backdrop of San Jacinto Peak.
Even if you didn’t know that Liberace lived in and loved this Palm Springs home, you’d nonetheless guess that it was the haven of an exuberant spirit. Accents include music notes on garden fencing, Roman statues flanking the property’s entrance, and a mailbox in the shape of a grand piano. The home also features many lavish crystal chandeliers.
Liberace actually owned four homes in Palm Springs throughout the course of his lifetime, but Casa de Liberace, which is located at the intersection of Belardo and Alejo roads, is the most well-known for representing his particularly eclectic style preferences.
This home at 1075 Manzanita Avenue is another residence that reflects the style and personality of the star who lived there. From the elegant round living room done all in white to the creative, suspended fireplace, Loretta Young’s presence shines through in this home. She is also said to have helped to tend the beautifully landscaped grounds with her own two hands due to a lifelong love of gardening.
Taking a bus tour of celebrity homes in Palm Springs provides you with a glimpse into their inner lives as well as serves as inspiration for your own home renovation and decorating dreams. What makes each of these homes unique is the way that it reflects the tastes and interests of their owners. You may not be famous, but I’ll bet you have some cool hobbies or pastimes. How could you integrate these into your home in a unique way?
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