When Emilie Davidson Hoyt and Rob Hoyt moved to a traditional home in Pasadena, they were torn. They missed the feeling of a modern house — like the one they lived in previously. But they also needed a space that was more kid-friendly.
They satisfied that craving in 2006 when they fell in love with a 1959 William Krisel-designed home in Palm Springs. They were attracted to the home’s angular roof, circular drive, modern sensibility and location in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood — a former celebrity enclave that once served as a weekend getaway for Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, and an area that is the focus of a walking tour linked to the Palm Springs Modernism Fall Preview that starts Oct. 9.
“We knew we wanted something close by that we could get to without a lot of planning,” Rob Hoyt says. “We love coming out here; it’s a short drive, but it feels like you took a flight to get here.”
When Rob Hoyt and Emilie Davidson Hoyt of Pasadena get away, chances are they’re at their Midcentury home in Palm Springs, designed by William Krisel. The angular roof is one of the 1959 structure’s distinctive features.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Taking a break from her duties as president of Lather (a company specializing in lotions and soaps) Emilie Davidson Hoyt relaxes in her Midcentury home in Palm Springs. The floors are covered in smooth porcelain Refin tiles.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Modernism’s clean lines are retained throughout the Hoyt home. A painting by Venice artist Andy Moses hangs in the living room. In the kitchen: powder-blue cabinets by Valcucine.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A bit of local color occupies a large, circular glass coffee table in the living room.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A light fixture with flexible arms doubles as rearrangeable sculpture. An Andy Moses painting hangs behind it.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A built-in cabinet with a Piet Mondrian feel conceals speakers and AV equipment and provides storage.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A closer look at a geometric cabinet that holds speakers and AV equipment.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Rob Hoyt wanted a blue kitchen, thinking it would extend the cool hue of the pool indoors. The cabinets chosen are by Valcucine.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Clean design is coupled with colorful accessories.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A saucer pendant light hangs over the dining table in Rob and Emilie Hoyt’s Mid-century home in Palm Springs.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The family dog is depicted in a painting that appears to be channeling a Warhol style in the guest bedroom of Rob and Emilie Hoyt’s Palm Springs home.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Tall windows let in the outdoors, but the roof canopy keeps the sun at bay. William Krisel designed the 1959 Palm Springs home.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A fountain gurgles in an inner courtyard lined with river rock. Daughter Ellie traverses the adjacent bedroom.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Circles and wavy tile lines lend pizazz to the master bathroom in Rob and Emilie Hoyt’s Midcentury Palm Springs home.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
A walled courtyard enhances privacy and serenity.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The Hoyt children, Ellie and Lewis, are reflected in a circular wall decoration in their bedroom.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
It is no surprise that Lather products are found at every sink in Rob and Emilie Hoyt’s home, since she is founder and president of the company.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The covered patio and pool deck at Rob and Emilie Hoyt’s Midcentury home in Palm Springs.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Rob Hoyt splashes in the solar-heated pool with children Ellie and Lewis.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Ellie and Lewis Hoyt jump into the pool at their family’s getaway home in Palm Springs, a 1959 sturcture by William Krisel. “If we don’t come for a few weeks, we’ll hear it from our kids,” mom Emilie Davidson Hoyt says.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Most important? The weekend home is a study in casual Modernism — but it’s a family home first.
“If we don’t come for a few weeks, we’ll hear it from our kids,” says Emilie, who started Lather, a line of aromatherapy-based face, body and hair-care products in 1999.
The 2,100-square-foot house is open, modern and simple. The couple — who are parents to Ellie, 11, and Lewis, 8 — kept the home’s original four-bedroom, three-bathroom floor plan but renovated the electrical and plumbing systems, the kitchen and the bathrooms. They also added solar heating for the pool, textured tile to the massive stone fireplace in the living room and floor-to-ceiling windows to the rear of the house to open it up to the pool. The floors are covered with smooth porcelain Refin tiles; the decor is minimal.
Family touches include or, rather, exclude Wi-Fi — which encourages the kids to interact with each other and play games and puzzles, swim in the pool and ride bikes on the wide, empty streets located in the shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains. The couple likes to invite friends — as many as eight at a time — to come out for the weekend, and they keep a crib stored in the garage in case someone wants to bring a baby along.
The kids’ room features simple twin beds paired with upholstered headboards and quilted throws and a single light sconce over each bed, giving the room the feeling of a luxury hotel room.
Striking powder blue lacquered Valcucine cabinets in the kitchen feel like an extension of the pool and offset the home’s white floors. Rob says he was adamant about having a blue kitchen, despite the initial reservations of Emilie and their interior designer, Mark Nichols. “For me, it represented this idea of cool water as an oasis in the middle of the desert,” he says.
The end result? A modern update of a midcentury classic that serves as a desert retreat for a busy family.
“There’s something special about the desert,” Emilie says. “It’s not an easy place to thrive. Still, it’s inspiring. You have to adapt, be resilient. There’s a lot of symbolism for us here.”
Vista Las Palmas walking tour info
What: Rat Pack Playground — Modernist Homes of Vista Las Palmas Historical Walking Tour (exteriors only)
Where: Palm Springs. Addresses released upon tour registration.
When: 9-11 a.m. Oct. 9-12