Bennion Deville Homes real estate professionals Sunny Snider and Mila Mendoza had a hand in bringing “The Draves Estate,” a high-profile vacation rental and this year’s West Elm House, to life. Over the course of assisting their clients with the purchase of a property, the duo discovered that a home their clients were considering was attached to Palm Springs lore. After undergoing a reimagining and revitalization, The Draves Estate is on the scene as a stunning example of what’s possible when you mix creativity, passion, and determination. As the 2021 West Elm House, the home features interior design and furnishings provided by the popular modern furniture company, elevating its status on social media and capturing the imagination of followers from around the globe.
Sunny and Mila’s clients were on the hunt for a property they could buy and renovate to turn into an investment property. Eventually, they stumbled upon an abode in the Tahquitz River Estates neighborhood of Palm Springs. After digging through the Palm Springs archives, Sunny discovered that the property had a rare connection to famed developer Paul Whitney Trousdale, who is known for building homes throughout Southern California. Over the course of its existence, the Trousdale Construction Company built several high-profile developments, including the star-laden Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills, which was home to entertainment icons such as Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Tony Curtis. “Mr. Trousdale was involved at the start of building out the Tahquitz River Estates community in 1947 and phased himself out of the development in 1949 when he sold his interests to another developer,” Sunny says. “The home was built during the early stages of the development where Trousdale had an active hand in the project, making it a rare Trousdale Palm Springs property.”
After purchasing the home, Sunny and Mila’s clients worked with a local company that specializes in updating homes and preparing them to be used as vacation rentals. Spearheaded by creative visionaries John-Patrick & Francie Flynn, the property was refreshed and reimagined for use by visitors from around the world. “The owners made several updates to the property to both modernize it and to bring out its original personality,” adds Mila. “The front yard landscaping surrounding the pool was updated. They also added a bar area and firepit to a corner of the yard and re-imagined the outdoor shower with some gorgeous custom tiles. Inside, they added wallpaper throughout, updated the tile and light fixtures, extended the living room wall separating the hallway to the bedrooms with a breeze block accent wall, and created an attached casita from a pass-through between the kitchen and a former formal dining room.” The home is as functional as it is fashionable while offering the best of our desert lifestyle wrapped into one brightly adorned and cleverly designed package.
Part of the home’s refreshment process and preparation for use as a vacation rental was branding the property with a personality and name. The home is named after U.S. Olympic Diver Vicki Draves, the first Asian-American to medal in the Olympics when she won 2 gold medals at the 1948 games. At those games she earned the elusive double gold on the 3m springboard and 10m platform, the first female diver to accomplish the feat. “Coming from San Francisco where Mrs. Draves is from and also being of Asian descent, the owners of the home wanted to pay tribute to an important Asian-American figure,” adds Sunny. The property entrance features the silhouette of a diver along the façade, welcoming all who enter and representing a nod to the home’s namesake. Additionally, a local gallery provided artwork of Vicki Draves which hangs in the living room, a neat twist that ties in the midcentury modern aura while paying homage to the Olympic champion diver.
As the West Elm House for 2021, the property has an extra bright spotlight shining on it. The famous modern furniture company furnished the home, creating the ultimate fit and feel to the freshly updated dwelling. Previous West Elm Homes have been featured prominently in local, regional, and national home and design magazines, played host to events for world-famous Modernism Week and others, and are the darlings of social media campaigns by showcasing the possibilities of the envy-inducing Palm Springs lifestyle.
As originators of this dream design project, Sunny and Mila are proud of the role they played in serving the needs of their clients. “It is so exciting to see what the owners have done to update the property. There are so many neat storylines woven into the tale of this home, and we are honored to have been a part of its legacy. Being a real estate professional can lead you down some unexpected paths, which makes it so much fun. This home will be special to us for so many reasons, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for our clients and for the home,” Sunny concludes.
About Bennion Deville Homes
Founded in 2001 by real estate industry icons Bob Bennion and Bob Deville, Bennion Deville Homes is a nationally recognized independent real estate brokerage and the #1 real estate brokerage in the desert. Bennion Deville Homes serves home buyers and sellers throughout Southern California in the primary markets of the Greater Palm Springs Area (Coachella Valley) and Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Coachella Valley offices include locations in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and La Quinta. Bennion Deville Homes also has offices in Garner Valley in Riverside County.
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