A Midcentury A-frame Renovation - Q&A with Photographer + Designer Caroline Lee

In the spirit of all things Midcentury and the upcoming Modernism Fall Preview, we wanted to explore the renovation of a local A-frame by the immensely talented Caroline Lee.  Caroline is, well, she’s basically wonder woman.  Photographer, designer, activist, free thinker.  She is a do-er and dreamer to the fullest extent and we are so happy to have had the opportunity to chat with her about her recent home renovation here in the Coachella Valley.  The A-frame to Claim as it has become known on Instagram, was originally purchased and remodeled by Sarah and Rupe Samuel back in 2015.  You can see the detailed and beautiful process over on Sarah’s blog. Although the Samuel’s did an insanely amazing job on renovating the home, there was still room for growth and customization and there’s no way Caroline wasn’t going to add her own spin on things.  If you take a look at Caroline’s instagram, the first thing that immediately jumps out at you is color - and that’s only one thing she certainly added to the A-frame.  Her design touches breathed new and inspiring life into the interior and exterior of this unique Palm Springs abode. Read on below for must see photos and Q&A with homeowner, designer and artist, Caroline Lee.

F10 - Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story?

CL - I was born in Washington, DC, grew up in Milwaukee, went to college in Michigan for a bit, then moved to Melbourne for 2 years, then back to Milwaukee, and then LA! I’ve been in LA for 6 years now, and I love it. It was a big decision based around being in a place that brought inspiration and joy. I get Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) in Midwestern winters and in places where the sun doesn’t shine for days on end, so LA was it. The sunny smiles sure do stay :)

F10 - How did the #aframetoclaim come to be a part of your life?

The A-frame is a space where you fall madly in love from the second you walk through the gates. It was love at first sight...
— caroline lee

CL - Well, my brother, partner and I were looking for a creative ‘retreat’ from LA, and we were looking in Joshua Tree. Then, my friend Sarah (Sherman Samuel) told me that she and her husband Rupe were selling their A-frame, and suddenly we weren’t looking in Joshua Tree anymore… The A-frame is a space where you fall madly in love from the second you walk through the gates. It was love at first sight, and so we bought it back in April 2018.

F10 - What initially attracted you to the Coachella Valley / Palm Springs area?

CL - It’s so close to LA -- we can be there in under 2 hours -- but it is a completely different energy. Full view of the sky at night, total peace + quiet. It’s so important to have some diversity in your life and not just stay in city-crazy 24/7.

Dining Room Before

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After  - designed in collaboration with Anne Sage. photo:  Jayden Lee

Dining Room After - designed in collaboration with Anne Sage.
photo: Jayden Lee

This remodeled PVC Studio was completely reimagined. Check out the complete remodel with more before and after's  on Caroline’s blog.   Tile:   Terrain in White Motif from Fireclay   Cushions on Built-in Sofas made by Calico Corners:  bench seat:  Kravet x Crypton Design 34971 – 4 , bolster cushion:  Crypton Home Suede in Harlow   Chairs:   Safavieh Bandelier Off-White Natural Leather Accent Chair from Home Depot   Designed in Collaboration with Anne Sage. Photos:  Jayden Lee

This remodeled PVC Studio was completely reimagined. Check out the complete remodel with more before and after's on Caroline’s blog.
Tile: Terrain in White Motif from Fireclay
Cushions on Built-in Sofas made by Calico Corners: bench seat: Kravet x Crypton Design 34971 – 4, bolster cushion: Crypton Home Suede in Harlow
Chairs: Safavieh Bandelier Off-White Natural Leather Accent Chair from Home Depot

Designed in Collaboration with Anne Sage.
Photos: Jayden Lee

PVC Studio - Before

PVC Studio - Before

PVC Studio - After Photos:  Jayden Lee

PVC Studio - After
Photos: Jayden Lee

F10 - Tell us a little bit about the renovation process?

CL - Rupe + Sarah had done a bulk of the house updating when we bought it, so we basically put a pool in (nbd) and then changed out the interiors. It took almost a year, so it was a big process.

F10 - What was your favorite and least favorite part of the renovation?

CL - Favorite… the pair of yellow sofas in the living room that Kim Salmela made custom for us! Least favorite… the pool process. Construction never goes according to plan.

Yellow  Kim Salmela  sofas in the A-frame Loft. Upholstered in  Kravet’s Crypton Home Beacon fabric in Lemon .  photo: Jayden Lee

Yellow Kim Salmela sofas in the A-frame Loft. Upholstered in Kravet’s Crypton Home Beacon fabric in Lemon.
photo: Jayden Lee

F10 - Was there anything that really took you for surprise and how did you overcome it?

CL - Putting an in-ground pool in is a real process, but there isn’t a ton of great education around it. I found that contractors aren’t into hand-holding, but it’s hard to know what “coping” is when you don’t know pool lingo, and it’s hard to envision a finished project in your yard when you can’t see a mockup. We overcame most of the hurdles by going slow and steady, and making sure we visited to see the progress in person.

F10 - Have you finished everything you’d like to do to the house?

CL - No! Next is a hot tub, and some built-in closets. I don’t think I’ll ever be “finished” :)

F10 - What is your favorite space in the house and why?

CL - In the pool! ;)

F10 - Who are your design / style inspirations? And where / how can you see these elements most in your house?

CL - I mean, Kelly Wearstler is a goddess. One of her wallpapers is in a guest bedroom, which I feel so stoked to have. She’s so textural and makes neutral really interesting, too.

F10 - Tell us more about the work you do in LA / with Light Lab and the goals behind it?

Caroline + Jayden Lee of Woodnote Photography inside their Palm Springs A-frame. Photo:  Logan Cole

Caroline + Jayden Lee of Woodnote Photography inside their Palm Springs A-frame.
Photo: Logan Cole

CL - I’m a photographer, ‘mostly’... but my business partner, Anne Sage and I also run Light Lab, which is a studio space that can be rented out, and, we are interior designers together. I guess I do a lot more than photography, but, in everything, my goal is always to bring freedom, community, and permission for sharing and creation. Those ideals have supported me so much in my life, and I want to bring them to others for them to have the same support.

F10 - How can people find out more about you, your work, Light Lab, the A-frame?

CL - Insta! That’s where I half-live. @teamwoodnote :)

F10 - And last but certainly not least, what are a few of your favorite things to do when you are in town?

CL - Jayden + I are foodies, for sure. We live at Birba, the King’s Highway restaurant inside the Ace Hotel (where you can find me ordering popcorn chicken and a side of pancakes… my own DIY ‘chicken + waffles’ solution), and Rooster + the Pig (that tea leaf salad, hunni!). Cocktails at the Parker are also a total point of fancy-bliss when we feel like a night out. Cheers! xx

All photos courtesy of Caroline Lee

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Interested in checking out more from this A-frame Home Renovation?
Check out Caroline’s blog for in depth process posts, before and afters and more!