I'm now a contributor to the hugely popular lifestyle publication Apartment Therapy, which covers real world advice from DIY hints to navigating real estate. Check out these fun articles from my real estate wheelhouse.
A Little About Me
I am a California native who arrived in the Coachella Valley desert more 25 years ago via Silicon Valley, continuing my high-tech career in Public Relations until switching to the tumultuous world of real estate 17 years ago.
Because of my long history with the desert--visiting for years before moving here permanently, I've witnessed the transfomation of Palm Springs and its sister cities into an international destination for art and nature.
Modernism Week—with its homage to Palm Springs' impressive mid-century architectural roots—boasts two discrete events that attract international attention. The Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals held on the Polo Grounds in Indio have permanently put the east end of the desert on the map. Polo events, the West's largest dog show and the Southwest Arts Festival are also held on these verdant fields. PNB Paribas—held at the superb Indian Wells Tennis Garden in March—is considered the 5th Grand Slam and the players' favorite event of the year. Desert X—a biennial exhibition of site-specific outdoor art scattered throughout the valley—has already created justifiable international buzz in its four iterations. I noticed that this year's amazing creation of stacked railcars is still ensconced in its north Palm Springs venue, the structure rising dramatically from the desert floor.
As a golfer, I've played many of the Valley's 121 courses and am familiar with the dizzying array of wonderful country clubs. Let me know your desired desert lifestyle and I will match you up with the perfect community.
I've found homes for clients throughout the Valley: from Palm Springs to my hometown of La Quinta—which offers the widest array of luxury communities.
My creative marketing efforts toward selling properties employ both traditional and digital stragegies. Put my enthusiasm and expertise to work on your behalf!
A Palm Springs Adventure ( A Desert Story)
Driving to Palm Springs with my newest movie-star tour in hand, I wanted to play cheerful tour-guide for my husband and pooch.
Still blazing hot outside even at summer’s end, the AC caressed Kobi—the car-loving canine—in his front-seat perch with spillover for the spouse in the back. Drivers notice the occupant priorities and smile.
The winding artery connecting the seven desert cities indulges the traveler with a cracking finish of the neck-craning San Jacinto Mountains. The towering, textured backdrop always catches my breath. Revolving gondolas deposit awe-struck visitors on the fir-studded alpine crest.
My homage to this magical city’s deep celebrity roots has become Mary’s Marvelous Movie Star Tour—a curated drive through the ritzy Old Las Palmas neighborhood north of downtown. I have regaled many amused guests with my always-evolving chronicle of long-ago lives while meandering the loopy streets.
Although I appreciate Kirk Douglas’ front-door visibility, the Spartacus star died at 99, leaving a residual ache for the gone glamour of Old Hollywood. He hosted Tracy and Hepburn during the making of the star-studded It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Spencer’s last film whose zany opening sequence was filmed in the nearby serpentine Santa Rosa Mountains pass.
Dinah Shore’s huge tennis estate, conveniently unhedged for the hoi polloi, always elicits favor and was built by desert architect, Donald Wexler, he of the corrugated W roofline. Since its present owner—Leonardo DiCaprio—bridges two generations of mega stars, there’s something for everyone. And the contemporary compound is available for sleepovers starting at just $3750.
My Palm Springs-bred girlfriend remembers a teenage sleepover at Elvis’s Honeymoon House before The King brought his new bride home from their Las Vegas nuptials. It’s now the highlight for gawking tourists aboard the double-decker tour buses. The galleon-sterned home jutting over the cozy cul-de-sac was built by Robert Alexander—creator of the swooping mid-century shapes that now define the city and its homage to Modernism Week.
I hit pause on my tour several years ago after ferrying around a Generation Z cousin. The old-timers’ names—Liberace and Lena Horne, Gable and Lombard—would mean naught to her Brittany Spears sensibilities. Taylor Swift afficionados even less.
Strolling downtown Palm Canyon, she gleefully announced that she finally recognized one of the sidewalk’s embedded golden stars. Marilyn Monroe resonated. She posed prettily atop the femme fatale’s honorific.
Ms. Marilyn is herself back in town after years of city wrangling over purchasing the 26-foot-tall Amazonian beauty posing iconically in her billowing white dress and old-lady knickers. The kitschy behemoth now bestrides a new avenue annexing the PS Art Museum to the main drag. Smart move. The LA Times’ art critic had apoplexy over her déclassé artistry. But the tourists remain smitten.
This time the curated pages of my new tour capture the Movie Colony, another celebrity conclave nestled on the other side of the main drag.
Equally heady names highlight the registries of quaint Spanish colonial homes built in the ‘30s, some accessible, others cloaked by unwelcoming walls befitting the privacy-seeking denizens.
Shoe magnate Florsheim probably wore sandals while Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker hid out on the estate as their televangelist empire imploded. Jessica Chastain complained that the oppressive eye makeup she endured to channel the ever tearful Tammy caused irreparable damage. A neighbor used to regale me with her Tammy sightings at the Ross discount store during her final years in the valley.
If Eddie Cantor rings a bell for true Hollywood-history lovers, he too resided in this low-key community. Although he was wiped out financially in the 1929 crash, his upbeat songs lifted the nation’s spirits during the unrelenting Depression years.
Bob and Dolores Hope owned two modest homes here before decamping to the iconic Neutra-crafted house perched high above the city. My ritual is a cheerful wave to Bob’s memory and his mushroom-topped edifice, amazingly visible from every nook and cranny of the valley floor.
Other members of the seven Road Films called this spot home. Bing Crosby and his wife Dixie owned a corner Colonial for 30 years but never socialized with next-door neighbor Dorothy Lamour, the glamor-gal member of the feckless film trio. No borrowed sugar or shared cocktails from the beautiful brunette.
A short detour lets us ogle the still glamorous contemporary home of ‘50s IT couple Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. She’d just made Psycho the same year. The uber-white home has great curb appeal and I could easily see myself moving in. Too bad the photogenic couple divorced just two years later.
My polite passengers graciously absorb my shaky spiel as I navigate the unfamiliar roads while clutching my text. Spouse thinks I should elaborate further. The terrier vigilantly watches for dog walkers he can greet vociferously. I feel myself flagging.
Then an unexpected one-way street sign forces a detour halfway through the tour and I can’t seem to get back on track. The occupants sense my quandary. The human one proposes an interim pause to regroup. I gratefully agree.
We swing through downtown, now revitalized with a luxe pool-topped seven-story hotel, very LA, and check out Marilyn’s new digs.
My sardonic pose under her nether limbs in the dragging heat seems a perfect coda to my ambitious, aborted movie-star tour. Cary Grant and Busby Berkeley will have to wait. I’ll check out the entire route later and get back to you.
B.A. UC Santa Barbara
M.S. Ohio University
California Desert Association of Realtors
California Association of Realtors
National Association of Realtors