Things have calmed down abit

By Jeffrey Jurasky, A.S.I.D.

Well things have settled down somewhat after the holidays, and a birthday cruise for my wife, a bout with the flu, and Modernism Week, and so on.  So I apologize for being absent and not posting as regularly as I should.

And speaking of Modernism Week . . . what a really great event to celebrate design, creativity and the comradery of those that share their love of architecture and design. I am not so much a modernist, my work has similarities with that design narrative . . . clean, architectural, honest and creative, but I don’t particularly share a love of the decorative aspects of modernism.  Most of the furnishings of the period are very uncomfortable and under scaled.  It tends to be non-textural and the color palettes are meant to dominate the space and not to enhance the architecture in my view.

I was honored to present a lecture during the week’s schedule at the Palm Springs Art Museum about my work . . . it was a joy talking questions from the audience and “showing off” the work that I am so proud of, finishing of course, with the powder rooms that are the “WOW” factor in my projects.  In a future blog post I will talk about those very unique spaces.

But as a carryover from the Modernism Week festivities, my blog mate Christopher and I were invited to a personal tour of the Annenberg Estate “Sunnylands” . . . talk about “WOW!”  If you are mildly a fan of landscape architecture you simply have to stop by the visitor’s Center to experience the gardens, the water features and the views.


The real treat, of course, was the residence . . . architecture by A. Quincy Jones.  His seamless planning of interior spaces fading into the exterior vistas, beautiful landscapes, sculptures and expansive golf course views are breathtaking.  He employed a concrete open cavity ceiling grid system to handle the structural issues and thus allowed the expansive glass walls and minimal structural supports.

Because of my infatuation with texture and materials I was taken by the pair of Lava Rock walls that anchor the Entry Atrium that is the center of activities as the auxiliary rooms step away from it in a very casual and informal way. The house itself does not feel its size, it is open and transitional, welcoming and warm.

The ceiling heights are scaled to the inhabitants and not for statement, characteristic of a midcentury aesthetic.  The sizes of all the rooms are very intimate . . . not bad for a 1 bedroom estate.

Deserving of special recognition is their family room/den/study.  Littered throughout the space are hundreds of photos of their family, guests, travels, loves, and memories.  You can really get a feel of who they were by spending time in this space with the comfortable furnishings, scale of space and the collection.  The Annenbergs had a special relationship with the Royal Family and there is a collection of Christmas cards from the Queen and family that is truly special. It’s a remarkable history lesson of the 20th century . . . it should not be missed . . . and take your time!


By Jeffrey Jurasky, A.S.I.D.

As long as we are taking advantage of the seasonal holidays and how we might “trim” the table . . . how about the table itself?  Holidays especially are for large gatherings around the dining table featuring table stylings to compliment the food and the occasion.  The more the merrier!  The more formal of homes typically incorporate a separate dining room for such occasions while less formal homes often feature the “great room” concept where the dining room is part of the larger space that includes the kitchen and living areas as bookends.  Wonderful gatherings with family and friends over plentiful food and opulent settings “are” the holidays . . . but how about the other 98% of the time when dining with your loved one, or your loved ones?  My guess it would be the less formal location of the morning room or some sequestered space where a free standing table and chairs will do . . . not excessively romantic for sure!

If you are fortunate enough to be planning your new kitchen/breakfast eating area, and in this case within the great room layout as many west coast homes tend to have . . . take a look at your available space, views, circulation patterns, wall configurations, TV location and lighting. While considering this set of criteria for my clients I have had the opportunity of combining the morning room dining table/seating into the kitchen island and thus the use of a banquette becomes the main seating element.  Think of this application in your favorite restaurant where the “booths” line the walls and become their own dining experience.

The dining room at Lulu Palm Springs where we utilized dining "banquettes".

At Lulu in Palm Springs we utilized an oversized banquette in a row against the interior wall and saved circulation room while creating the most sought after seats in the house. Since the upholstered booths are tight against the wall, or a kitchen island for example, there is 3 – 4 ft. of saved space that a freestanding table and chairs would have to occupy. Think of a banquette as a dining sofa, although the upholstery would need to be abit firmer and the back pitch abit more vertical to sit you more upright while dining. Local upholstery workshops such as Frank’s Palm Desert Upholstery make these banquettes beautifully and have the necessary specifications.


This kitchen banquette setting took advantage of the spectacular down valley view.

This home had pocketing doors for full exterior exposure and the romance of the lake and golf course views.

These two homes are wonderfully gifted to have exterior views that are a wonder unto themselves, and with the use of a dining banquette neatly tucked into the kitchen island, the main seating direction takes full advantage of these views. There is absolutely no better way to enjoy your bowl of Frosted Flakes in the morning with the one you love . . . any day! Not just the holidays.


Lets talk about the very first impression that your home exudes when guests arrive, namely . . . your front door.

The concept was to integrate a glass door to embellish the inside/outside seamless relationship

It seems that your “best foot forward” is often forgotten or even ignored in the interest of not being too bold, different or creative. So much so that many of our country club communities require that the individual front doors stay similar since they face the common areas. Well I would argue that your front door is the marquis statement for the personality of you and your home.

Front door with metal art from Jefferson Mack of San Francisco, designed initially by Kristi Hanson, Architect

Of course there are many considerations that you need to mull over when it comes to doing something different: weather exposure, material selection, structural requirements, privacy issues, security considerations, and possibly even neighborhood standards. But in all cases the design of your front door can be a real exciting addition even to the most ordinary architectural structures. The latching system is also an opportunity to play with some really wonderful hardware companies creating remarkable jewelry for doors. Rocky Mountain Hardware, Southwest Door, Forms & Surfaces just to name a few. Local to the Desert for sourcing would be F & W Hardware (Palm Desert) and for totally custom pulls look to Smiley’s Metalcraft (Indio Hills).

When employing glass as the main ingredient of the door, and you can see that it is my preference, you need to consider an alternative latching system if you want to maximize the glass. That would mean that a magnetic floor and header locking system electronically engaged might do the trick. Other than that would be a conventional handle/knob with a thumb turn bolt as a possibility.  With glass (tempered) you need to consider if the hardware is mounted to the glass or off to the side or bottom.  Drilling locations, offsets, weight and other logistics will have to be considered.

The minimal treatment of this glass entry door almost makes it a mystery to operate.

These examples are from a myriad of homes that I have been able to design the front door statement. Almost without exception I approach the design as an extension of the architecture. We have employed the talents metal artists, glass companies, and fine carpenters to enrich the entry experience of these custom homes.

Whatever your direction might be, that front door can be a wonderful addition and a very creative statement about who you are and what awaits your guests once they pass through that statement. It’s all about you.

I’m the old guy

It is true that I am the senior of us 3 “hot-shot” designers that the Desert Sun has recruited for their Desert Design Authority blog, in fact, I was initially concerned about how all of us would co-exist, but indeed, we all bring different outlooks, styles, bodies of work, and approaches to creativity and management.

I am not sure about Patricia and Christopher, but this is my first foray into the blogosphere on this scale.  I have donated a comment or two, usually motivated by a highly touted yet mediocre design feature published in the LA Times or Architectural Digest platforms, simply to blow off steam or to acknowledge a feature that is more style than substance.  I hope that you readers of our DDAuthority blog will be spared such “eye candy” with my commitment to only talk about substance and approach.  So, as a reader and interested party, it is your charge to challenge, interact, criticize and compliment all of us as we deserve!

But please understand . . . as the senior member of this troika I insist that I am always right . . . am the ultimate authority on things design . . . and have a tendency to be overly enthusiastic about my own expertise..

A few things about me . . . I am not a decorator; in fact decoration is approximately 10% – 15% of what I do as an Interior Designer.  An interior architect is probably more accurate.  Space planning, acoustics, lighting design, appliance and plumbing specifications, cabinet & furniture design, design of interior architectural elements (fireplaces, framing, electrical, finish carpentry, entry doors and gates, hardware, surface specifications, water features, etc . . . you get the picture . . . it is my job to embellish, enhance and personalize the architecture for my client and homeowner.

So . . . what can you expect from me?  Since my firm primarily focuses on custom homes, from the plan development with the Architect to move in, I will probably talk about the creative process that ultimately gives birth to fun and functional items within a custom home environment; about craftsmanship and the talented ones that make me look good; about materials and the unexpected use of some; and about the projects, from a 15,000 sq. ft. home to the remodel of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway . . . all those projects that allow me, for the last 29 years, to do what I love to do.