Southern California Real Estate and Neighborhoods

John Elgin Woolf's Marrakesh Development in Palm Desert Draws the Design Set


Marrakesh, a collection of 364 pink villas in Palm Desert designed by Hollywood Regency creator John Elgin Woolf in the 60’s and 70’s, is drawing the design set. Design heavy weights that bought in the development include “the home furnishings magnate Annie Selke (Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert), the New York designer Joe D’Urso, the Los Angeles designer and architect Tim Morrison, and Susie Coelho, a former HGTV host and a former wife of Sonny Bono, who before being elected to Congress served as mayor of Palm Springs.”

“The desert used to be driven by golf,” Mr. Drucker said. “Now the big engine of the economy in the desert, certainly Palm Springs, is style.”

The style of the development is odd mix of Middle Eastern exoticism with the modernist restraint of Hollywood regency, which itself was inspired by English and French Regency styles. The Marrakesh villas display such Hollywood Regency hallmarks such as a mansard roof, skinny doorways and classical symmetry, but with a Middle Eastern flair.


Marrakesh got its name from the land’s physical similarity to the Atlas Mountains-ringed city of Marrakesh. The development was originally marketed to members of the Los Angeles Country Club and snowbirds of various regions. Currently, the villas can be had for a fairly reasonable $400,000, far less than Woolf’s Hollywood Regency homes in the LA area.

The homes promise the design set a trip back into some fantasy version of the early 70’s. One home whose interior design has remained untouched for 40 years, features “its original color scheme of white and lime green that extends from a white shag rug and floral print drapes to white and green dishes to a Zenith television encased in white lacquer trimmed with the drapery fabric.”


California’s Marrakesh: A Country Club That’s Chic Again

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