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Michael Smith's Mayan-Modernist Villa Gets a Rigorous Update

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Last summer, reports that the Obamas were house-hunting in Coachella Valley spread after the president and first lady spent a weekend at this Rancho Mirage home of their close friend and go-to interior designer Michael Smith. Though that rumor was quickly squelched, Smith's completely renovated '70s Mayan-Modernist villa now returns for its own spotlight on the cover of the latest Architectural Digest. The White House decorator, whose L.A. pad and NYC pied-à-terre have already gotten the shelter mag treatment, has spent the last two years thoroughly restoring and upgrading the glass-and-stucco "Ichpa Mayapan" ("exclusive estate").

Designed by SoCal architect Howard Lapham, the 11,000-square-foot hilltop residence is now a weekend retreat for Smith and his partner James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra. The grueling renovation process, which Smith has compared to childbirth, included removing and replacing almost everything in and around the house (e.g. paving, fountains, roof, landscaping, floors.) Decor-wise, Smith looked to Joan Didion for inspiration, particularly her essay, "In Hollywood," which described homes "filled with white phalaenopsis and cymbidium orchids and needlepoint rugs and the requisite scent of Rigaud candles." Head over to Arch Digest for the full story, including "before" photos of the renovation.


· At Home in Palm Springs with Ambassador James Costos and designer Michael S. Smith [Arch Digest]
· Inside Michael Smith's Duplex Penthouse Pied-à-Terre [Curbed National]
· Inside the Home of Presidential Decorator Michael Smith [Curbed National]