Design Inspiration From a Palm Springs Desert Chic Boutique Hotel, The Amado

published Nov 1, 2014
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(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)

Name: Jaime Kowal, The Amado
Location: Palm Springs, California
Size: 3,200 square feet interior space, 11,200 square feet exterior space
Years lived in: Purchased and renovated in 2013; opened as a desert chic boutique hotel in 2014.

I was heading out to Palm Springs for the weekend with friends; we were nine adults and a half dozen children all in. We wanted some of the amenities of a hotel with the isolation and privacy of a house. The answer to where to stay? The Amado, a desert-chic hideaway tucked away near the city’s center. With its five apartments surrounding a pool, it was the perfect, private weekend getaway.

(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)

With its bright orange door, the former rental complex is the brain child of Jaime Kowal. Jaime, a Canadian photographer, had been toying with the idea of moving when her family decided to vacation in Palm Springs. When their stay was up, Jaime opted to remain in the States. She purchased the property that would become the Amado and, with only limited experience under her belt — a 2400 square foot building in North Vancouver that she completed with her ex-boyfriend — Jaime jumped into renovating.

“That project gave me an understanding of what’s involved in terms of planning, commitment and cost, so I knew a little bit of what I was jumping into,” says Jaime.

(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)

With an interest in Feng Shui, she turned to a former teacher, Melanie Ferreira, to help her come up with a starting point for the design of the space. Each of the rooms subtly reflects — in its choice of colors, materials and artwork — one of the five elements: fire (unit 1), earth (unit 2), metal (unit 3), water (unit 4), and wood (unit 5). They’re also — and I can say this from the experience of having cooked and lived there for four days — very well thought-out and stocked.

“Design is subjective at best,” Jaime says, “but anything you can do to contribute to a space feeling good is positive thing. Whether or not it works is still to be determined but it was really important to me for my guests to feel good intuitively.”

There must be some validity to the practice: the Amado has been popular from the start (Florence and The Machine stayed there during the last Coachella). Her latest projects — in conjunction with partner Chris Pardo — the newly opened Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki, located side-by-side in the Uptown Design District on Palm Springs’ main drag, are proving to be just as popular.

(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)
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My Style: I love minimal spaces that inspire creativity and a sense of escape. I like to add layers of warmth through natural materials, textures, color and art. I always try to honor the original architecture of a space, and am particularly enamored with the clean lines of mid-century design.

The Inspiration: The building itself was my inspiration. The Amado is located in Palm Springs and was built in 1955. It is a beautiful example of mid-century architecture with a gorgeous mixed use of brick and wood throughout. It was love at first sight.

Favorite element: The original vintage fireplace, tongue and groove ceilings, wood beams, and clerestory windows with mountain views.

Biggest Challenge: I had to design and source appliances, furniture, art and finishings for five units simultaneously! The building operated as an apartment complex before I converted it. I had to order multiples of everything and often had to check and double check my planning because the quantities seemed so crazy. As an example I had to order 22 dining room chairs, 20 pieces of art, 40 bath towels and 6 mattresses and bed frames.

What friends say: It feels like a great escape. They want to live here and never leave!

Biggest embarrassment: I have trouble keeping even my succulents alive. The heat of a Palm Springs summer is indeed extraordinary, but ideally they would live a longer life.

Proudest DIY: The project as a whole! I acted as general contractor and designer and oversaw every detail of the project from start to finish. There were times when sub-contractors would question my vision, but I stuck with it and I’m really happy.

Biggest Indulgence: I love collaboration, so being able to work with some of my favorite artists, designers and friends in furnishing and decorating the space felt like an indulgence.

Best Advice given or received: Don’t be afraid to take risks…in life or design.

Dream Source for stuff: Patricia Urquiola, Ann Sacks, Lawson-Fenning, Galanter & Jones, The Modern Shop, Muuto, Ferm Living, Commune

(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)



  • Summit
  • Frigidaire
  • Cuisinart





  • Grohe
  • Delta
  • Speakman
  • Toto


  • Dunn Edwards – Flintstone, Whisper


  • Polished original concrete

Rugs and Carpets

Window Treatments

  • Custom-made linen curtains



(Image credit: Jaime Kowal)

Thanks, Jamie!

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Re-edited from a post originally published November 2014 — AB