While in Palm Springs for Modernism Week this past February, I took advantage of the many home tours that are offered. I decided to tour the Morse House, known for its fabulous indoor/outdoor poolside entertaining. The Las Palmas area of Palm Springs is home to the Morse House and the Alexander Construction Company built the William Krisel designed home in 1961. However, when purchased by LA couple, Teddy and Claire Morse, Claire decided to intervene mid-construction and brought in Hal Levitt, a modernist architect for Hollywood’s elite. Levitt added in customized features making it a one of a kind home, complete with a pool with a swim up bar – the best of indoor/outdoor poolside living in Palm Springs.
The Front Yard
From the outside, the house is a simple mid century ranch-style home, complete with breeze blocks, palm trees and clear, blue skies.
Indoor/Outdoor Poolside Living
The Main Living Area
Upon walking through the front door I was in for a surprise. An entertainer’s dream come true, this home and mid century pool design is the epitome of indoor/outdoor living in Palm Springs! The pool is the center of the home. On a perfect Palm Springs day (as it happened to be on the day I visited), there are no windows. The windows retract into the walls, they are hidden from view, and there is no boundary between the indoors and out.
An open floor plan set up on multi-levels comprises the main living area. What is unique about this home is that the pool is directly accessible from both inside and out. An indoor/outdoor swimming pool – that is something that you do not see very often these days. Nowadays, most pools are out in the open where the sun beams down upon it. Shade is usually provided by umbrellas placed around the pool. However, the pool uses the roof overhang to keep the pool partially shaded. It is the perfect home for poolside entertaining, regardless of whether you are a sun worshipper or you prefer shade.
The Swim Up Bar
A sunken bar is the only thing that separates the living space from the pool. It’s a swim up bar! How’s that for entertaining by the pool? Mid century modern architects really knew how to incorporate the lifestyle aspect into their designs. More simplified than the styles of the past, but with a glamorous and sexy edge.
One can take a dip in the pool without having to step outside! Steps from the living area lead up to pool level and from there you can dive right in.
The Dining Room
The dining room sits in front of the sunken bar and displays an impressive treasure trove of mid century pottery and glass.
The clever placement of the painted river rock fireplace makes for a more intimate dining area by shielding it from the outside.
An update to the original kitchen maintained the simplicity of the original mid century architecture of the home.
The Music Studio
The current owner has reimagined the guest bedroom into a mini music studio.
A shower with a window up above and small rock garden gives the illusion of being outdoors.
The Indoor/Outdoor Swimming Pool and Backyard
The pool is an extension of the house in the backyard. From the pool, a column rises up and supports the roof overhang, and an upholstered cushion provides a comfortable place to sit with one side shielded from the sun. These elements are not seen very often today, but it is a hallmark of mid century pool design.
The side of the house tucks away the jacuzzi from view of the main living area, offering privacy.
I can only imagine the parties that went on at the Morse House back in the day. Judging by the set up, the current owners also take advantage of the Palm Springs weather and entertain near the pool frequently. I would do the same if I had a swim up bar that connected to the indoors!
While attending Modernism Week, I also toured The Lautner Compound, designed by architect John Lautner in 1947. Be sure to check out that post, too. If you love mid century modern art, architecture, and design, you should consider making the trek out to Palm Springs next year!