Living on the edge in a modern Palm Springs home

Liz and Mark Ostoich were staying at the Willows, a boutique hotel in downtown Palm Springs, when they had the idea to buy a home in the desert resort town. They looked up at the hillside where they now reside and told themselves that if they were to live anywhere in Palm Springs, it would be there.

It took them half a dozen years to reach their goal, but in May 2012 they got there. Today the Inland Empire natives, both land-use attorneys, live on the edge of the historic Tennis Club neighborhood in one of the few homes on the Palisades Drive hillside.


The Ostoichs — avid collectors who sold all of their previous Monterey-style furnishings when they sold their Mediterranean Revival home in Riverside — are making the most of their purchase. They've kitted out their 1959 Hugh M. Kaptur-designed post-and-beam home with Midcentury Modern furnishings, art, textiles and lighting fixtures, much of it purchased in Palm Springs. (Meanwhile, Kaptur is being honored this month during Palm Springs Modernism Week.)

The Siva House, as their modest two-bedroom is known, was originally designed as a builder spec home for second-home buyers. Rooms are small, and storage is spare. ("If I buy a sweater, I have to throw one away," Liz jokes.) But the home has an undeniable asset: a panoramic view of Palm Springs and nearby Tahquitz Canyon. Kaptur, who at 83 is still designing homes, emphasized the view with an open living room-dining room area with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that wrap around the space and let in cool breezes.

Liz, who decorated the house, chose living room furnishings that wouldn't block the view. They include a 1950s gondola sofa by Ed Wormley for Dunbar that she re-covered in mohair; a pair of low gold armchairs designed by J. Stuart Clingman for Widdicomb; and three end tables by studio craftsman Sam Maloof, who was a client of her husband's. A boldly colored rug with a Frank Lloyd Wright design, from the Phoenix Biltmore, ties the space together.

"We wanted to make this organic, using wood from the '50s rather than chrome and glass," Liz says.

Other favorite pieces include their first purchase, a sleek dining set by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings purchased from Christopher Anthony in Palm Springs. She and Mark bought two George Nakashima walnut bar stools before they had a bar. And she likes to guess at the story behind an oversized 1950s Florence Knoll credenza in rosewood with a built-in mini-refrigerator.

"Each piece is a moment," Liz says. "It wouldn't be the same if a designer had purchased and decorated everything."

The canyon quiet, access to nearby hiking trails and pool area for relaxing and hosting family gatherings were all part of what drew Liz and Mark Ostoich to this house. The opportunity it provided to learn about Midcentury Modern design through weekend forays to antiques stores only added to its appeal.

"We're probably not as married to the things as to the experiences," Liz says of their growing collection. "It's the treasure hunt."

Twitter: @acolby