Of all the houses that architect Albert Frey designed in Palm Springs (and there are a lot), our favorite is the little home he designed for himself, perched in the hills overlooking the city. The house is only 800 square feet, but all the things Frey did to link the home's interior and exterior mean that you could almost imagine that the vast expanse of desert outside is merely an extension of your living room.
Frey, who spent a year scouting the site and observing the sun's movement across it before breaking ground, famously incorporated a giant boulder into the home's design. From the back, the house seems to be emerging from the rock itself. Inside, the boulder serves as a separation between the bedroom and living room areas.
Almost everything — the bed, the couches, the tables, even the pool furniture — is built in. This gives the house a ship-life efficiency which, together with the huge windows that form the walls, makes the house seem much larger than it is.
Frey built the house from cheap, easily available materials — concrete block, steel sections, and corrugated steel roofing. There's a lovely bit of tension here: incorporating the boulder allows the house to hug the landscape, almost as if it's a part of the hillside itself, but the dramatic, industrial materials form a dynamic contrast with the desert rock and scrub.
The success that Frey achieved with these humble materials is proof that you don't need tons of money to build a beautiful, dramatic modern home — just ingenuity. And a really, really great site.
You can read more about Albert Frey's house, and see more photos, on Yatzer.