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Polynesian Culture Meets Mid-Century Modern for This Luxury Show House

chris barrett

Roger Paperno

Celebrity interior designer Chris Barrett shares the inside scoop on her latest project.

What happens when island living meets the desert? A new style of interior design is born.

For Chris Barrett—a long-time interior designer for celebrities like John Stamos, Mitt Romney and Sean Hayes (Star Wars co-writer)—interior design is like a snowflake. Barrett belongs to a rare breed of designers who truly reflect the spirit of each client. From breezy beach villa to sleek Manhattan apartment to rustic horse farm, Barrett’s projects are vastly different, and each stunning.

So when Barrett was approached to help create a Desert Oasis, she was quick to create something never seen before.

With her latest project, Barrett worked with several interior designers to find a way to unite the widely popular Mid-Century Modern design with her client’s love of Polynesian culture for what may have just become the newest trend in interior design.

Barrett shares with us exclusive details on co-designing what came to be the Desert Oasis.

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DESERT OASIS SHOW HOME: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH CHRIS BARRETT

Situated in the luxurious Indian Wells resort community, the home was originally designed by Architect John Walling in 1978.  With a full redesign, the Desert Oasis Show House still boasts a classic mid-century design reimagined into a striking tropical Polynesian haven. 

“The concept for the entire house is from the homeowner’s love of everything Polynesian,” said Barrett. “The house is mid-century, so therefore it’s mid-century Polynesian.”

Barrett collaborated with several interior designers, with her focus being the primary suite, outdoor kitchen and exterior furnishings. The primary bath features a 3-dimensional marble tile with a gorgeous texture. 

“I love the look of the floor to ceiling tile,” said Barrett. “The stone flooring goes into the shower and there’s a big, beautiful freestanding tub, it looks fantastic.”

Barrett has a knack for making a space effortlessly stylish, yet comfortable with her mantra being, “I don’t do heavy.” 

“I love residential design because it’s very comprehensive; it’s really fun to see a whole house transform. Residential design can be very subtle, but I know as long as I keep true to the story the design choices come naturally.”

“I love residential design because it’s very comprehensive; it’s really fun to see a whole house transform. Residential design can be very subtle, but I know as long as I keep true to the story the design choices come naturally.”

Chris Barrett

Photo by Roger Paperno

Subtle, yet striking interior design choices manage to perfectly blend into a Polynesian mid-century modern design. For one, statues can be found throughout the home. A Polynesian statue represents deities or an ancestral hero, and luckily, their bold geometric shape works perfectly into a Mid-Century Modern theme.

Also throughout the home and backyard includes an accent orange color. The color is true to Polynesian culture, as it is the official color of the Hawaiian Island Lanai because of the Kaunaoa plant which is often used for medicinal purposes to treat colds or help pregnancies. 

Because Barrett’s interior design roots deep in the California dream with spaces that morph easily between indoor and outdoor living, similar themes are found in this exquisite backyard design.

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DESIGNING AN OUTDOOR POLYNESIAN TROPICAL PARADISE

Chris Barrett

Photo by Roger Paperno

“With the outdoors, we followed the same concept except we have the barbecue, so we did a freestanding barbecue island,” said Barrett. “And we chose a few of these appliances to have orange panels. The refrigerator and freezer have an orange panel and so does the beer tap.”

The cabinets themselves are a bronze metal. And then, of course, there’s the dining area with a terrazzo top table and chairs and a lounge area with a big sectional and a fire pit.

The 10-Day Oasis Show, which took place April 1–10, hosted a “bevy of interactive, inspired and engaging events, including tours of the ICONIC home, VIP soirées, designer discussions and more,” according to the Design Collaborative USA site

Barrett’s other recent projects include a Spanish Colonial house in La Jolla, as well as a new Hamptons-style home for long-time client John Stamos. Design being a family affair, she’s also collaborating on the remodeling of her daughter’s home in upstate New York.

Barrett helms a collection of furnishings, which you can see on her website, Chrisbarrettcurated.com.

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