Obama’s Palm Springs Escape

Are you curious what the Obamas are doing this week?  

I know I would be thrilled to be out of the political madhouse of Washington and the constant microscope.  Politics is truly a thankless (and repulsive in my opinion) job. They flew the coop and are hanging in the sun and fun at the palatial pad,  Ichpa Mayapan, of Ambassador James Costos And White House Designer Michael S. Smith in Palm Springs.

He deserves it too. I hope they are sleeping late and drinking margaritas by the pool. We know I would be…

See the full article in AD

Once dilapidated, now sensational, an eccentric 1970s house in the California desert has become a beloved haven for designer Michael S. Smith and diplomat James Costos.


Interior designer Michael S. Smith renovated an early 1970s Howard Lapham house in Rancho Mirage, California, as a weekend retreat to share with his partner, James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra. The pool area, offering dramatic views of the desert surroundings, is furnished with custom-made Brown Jordan tables and chaise longues, the latter cushioned in a Kravet fabric.

Michael S. Smith and Ambassador James Costos at the entrance to their Rancho Mirage, California, home, featured on the cover of the April issue of Architectural Digest.


The house, named Ichpa Mayapan, features Mayan-inspired embellishments on many of its exterior surfaces; hanging at the entrance is a lantern by Julian Chichester.


An expanse of silvered mica panels over the fireplace offsets the living room’s travertine walls and floor; the table and chairs at left are vintage Jansen designs, the daybed is 1960s, the sculpture on the landing is by Rod Kagan, and the carpet is a Smith design by J. D. Staron.


The couple’s Bedlington terrier, Lily, relaxes next to a seating area with Jasperclub chairs and Lawson-Fenning cocktail tables; in the background, a banquette covered in a Brunschwig & Fils fabric is joined by a trio of vintage Milo Baughman lounge chairs.


In the dining room, a Jean de Merry light fixture shimmers above a vintage table ringed with shearling-clad chairs by Jasper; the curtains are of a fabric from Michael S. Smith’s Templeton line, and the Smith-designed rug was made by J. D. Staron.


Overlooking the pool is a sculpture of a Mayan figure holding torches, which are lit in the evening; the sunshades are by Brown Jordan, and pillows in a Kravet fabric accent the custom-finished Brown Jordan chaise longues.


In the family room, a Philippe Anthonioz light fixture is suspended above a Dransfield & Ross screen, a Jasper sofa, a pair of armchairs with cushions upholstered in a Lee Jofa fabric, and an ottoman by Ralph Lauren Home; the curtains are of a Jim Thompson fabric, and the striped rug is by Vaughan.


The kitchen is equipped with Poggenpohl cabinetry, a backsplash of Heath Ceramics tile, a Viking range and ovens, and Kallista sink fittings; Lawson-Fenning stools are pulled up to the island, which has a Caesarstone top.


Brunschwig & Fils botanical print animates the walls of a guest room, which features a vintage bed dressed with Matouk linens.


The media room, paneled in hand-carved oak, is outfitted with a PaganiStudio light fixture, a 1980s Karl Springer mirror, and Jasper table lamps, cocktail tables, and club chairs, which are clad in a Rose Tarlow Melrose House fabric; the large painting is by Charles Arnoldi, and the carpet is by Kravet.


In the same room, the bookcase was designed by Michael S. Smith for Jasper, and the side table is by Jasper.


Smith used a single Brunschwig & Fils fabric for the main guest room’s walls and canopy bed; the headboard is by Century Furniture, the painting at far left is by Arthur Osver, the two prints are by Robert Natkin, and the rug is by Ben Soleimani for RH.


Jasper, a Labradoodle, sits next to a Paul Frankl table and a Michael Taylor Designs bench in the master bath; the ceiling light is 1960s Italian,  Fuse Lighting sconces are paired with an RH mirror, the lamp is by Vaughan, the shower and sink fittings are by Kallista, and the rug is by Serena & Lily.


In the master bedroom’s sitting area, a Jasper sofa and chairs—all upholstered in Jasper fabrics—are joined by a Chinese lacquer low table custom painted by Nancy Lorenz and a rug by Ben Soleimani for RH.


The master bedroom’s canopy bed, featuring a Century Furniture headboard,  Templeton-fabric draperies, and D. Porthault bed linens, is flanked by Julian Chichester mirrors; the fauteuil is by Jasper, the pop-up television cabinet is by Michael S. Smith for Jasper, and the carpet is by Ben Soleimani for RH.


The entrance drive.


Custom-finished Echo chaise longues by Brown Jordan with cushions in Surfside outdoor fabric, in thyme, by Kravet. Sunshades by Brown Jordan.


The fire pit.


A seating area on the rear terrace, with the fire pit beyond.

  – April 2015 Issue

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