You are here

Vibrant Palm Springs Oasis

A trio of designing women (and 2011 New Trad designers!) turn a second home in Palm Springs into a family-friendly oasis

Written by Darra Baker
  • Karyn R. Millet

    Only a trio of native Southern California designing women—principals of Bonesteel Trout Hall Interiors—can take a chunky limestone house in the desert of Palm Springs and turn it into a fresh, family-friendly oasis that evokes the best of Mexico, Morocco, and France while still keeping it vibrantly earthy and comfortable.

    Creating the getaway for Texans Reena and Mike Blumenfeld was like working with old friends. “This is the third house we’ve done for them, so there is a great comfort level,” says designer Heidi Bonesteel of Bonesteel Trout Hall, the design firm named after herself and partners Michele Trout and Jill Hall. “Reena literally handed me an old blue picture frame, half of a gourd, and a piece of French limestone as inspiration.”

    Photography: Karyn R. Millet

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Living Room

    Along with a few magazine clippings of French farmhouses and stacks of wonderful old textiles from all parts of the globe, the designers ran with all of the homeowners’ design fuel while collecting more inspiration from their own memory banks. “I loved being able to relive our travels in Europe, smell the smells of Morocco, and take trips in my mind as we put the house together,” says Heidi, adding, “Both Michele and I agree that travel is probably the most important inspiration for us as designers.” 

    Clever placement of the back-to-back twin sofas makes the most of the ample living room space. One sofa faces the fireplace for cozy warmth during chilly desert nights, while the other sofa faces a broader conversation area and television. A low, chunky, wood coffee table invites guests to put their feet up, while a round leather-topped ottoman provides impromptu seating. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Blue-Green Accents

    A wingback chair in lime green and aqua tones lifts the living room’s neutral mood while conversing with the blue-green accent pillows on the hemp-colored sofas.  

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Color in the Kitchen

    The resulting exotic look of the home is deliberately tamed by large-scale natural tones, though the cool, measured waves of aqua blues and citrus greens running throughout the house keep the big wraparound-style villa from feeling overwhelming.

    French farmhouse-blue cabinets lend a chic note to the limestone-walled kitchen. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Whimsical Chandelier

    Both whimsical and weighty, the beaded turquoise chandelier graces the neutral-colored dining room with a visual lift, while the strong pear shape and density of the beads keep it from looking too wimpy against the rough-hewn French-style Texas limestone on the walls.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Rustic and Refined

    “It’s a delicate balance of being restrained and earthy at the same time,” explains Heidi, on how she and Michele (who’ve been friends since their student days in the UCLA architecture program) were able to achieve a look that’s both rustic and refined. Adding texture to every surface—the rough limestone, raw, aged-wood ceiling beams, ostrich-pebbled headboard—the team concentrated on adding the tactile to every last detail. “I think that’s what the new traditional is all about—texture,” notes Heidi.

    Massive raw-wood beams on the ceiling and high-contrast dark wood trim keep this creamy white hallway from looking stark. The pair of elongated ceiling pendant lights came from Berbere World Imports in Los Angeles.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Refined Master Bedroom

    Refined texture in a biscuit-colored grasscloth on the walls and a pebbly ostrich skin on the upholstered headboard lend a note of the exotic to the bedroom. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Vibrant Bedroom

    Color and pattern play in one of the bedrooms. From the bed skirt to the canopy, the headboard to the lampshade, vibrant but comfortable is key.  

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Glamorous Guest Room

    A lush peacock-hued velvet-upholstered headboard and pillow sham promise comfort and warmth to guests. The lampshade trimmed in matte gold adds glamour to the vignette, as do the soft gold nailheads on the headboard.

  • Karyn R. Millet


    Doors to the interior courtyard are flung open. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Courtyard Casbah

    The result of the designers’ work is an earthy yet exotic retreat that combines a dash of colorful chic with modern restraint in happy proportions. 

    Details on the following slide.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Pillow Detail

    “Reena brought us this huge stack of fabrics, rugs, and weaves from all of her trips. We cut the fabrics up to make pillows and used them outside. She gave us really great things to work with.” The effect is that of a warm and restful casbah lounge.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Designer Portrait

    Bonsteel Trout Hall's five things:

    1. Don’t be afraid to use color, and if you are a bit shy, then choose a neutral background and add one color, repeating it throughout the scheme.
    2. Try to invest in one or two well-designed, well-made pieces of furniture, because they will stand the test of time.
    3. Always use texture when you can to achieve a more current look.
    4. At every opportunity, try to use a wall covering rather than paint on your walls. And if you want to start slow, have fun in the powder room and wallpaper the walls with something daring.
    5. If you see something interesting on your travels, take it home with you and add it to your space for a bit of soul.