An orange door, gold lettering, glistening white brick and tastefully tall hedges that divide the home from the rest of the world; the owner may very well be outside with a glass of champagne in hand, wearing a caftan, dripping in equal parts jewels and sass. She lifts her head with a laugh that is musical yet mischievous—is she telling an inappropriate joke or regaling you with a tale of her latest European trip? Or both?
Her name is D’Re Stergios, and she is bringing modern art and dance into her living room—quite literally—as part of Modernism Week, on Saturday, Feb. 22. The home is called The Gala House, and the event, “The Gala House—Modern Home for Modern Dance,” is a partnership with the International Dance Festival in Palm Springs/Nickerson-Rossi Dance. Expect an evening of choreographed dance and champagne, as well as a celebration of the fully restored and re-envisioned modern décor of The Gala House, originally built by the Stergios family in 1973. The Gala House is a meshing of midcentury modern, Hollywood Regency and Park Hotel styles, with a 4,825-square-foot interior, designed by Los Angeles architect Cary Bigman.
I sat down with D’Re Stergios over a glass (or a bottle) of champagne to find out more.
How would you define yourself?
I’m a mother-of-five, wife-to-one-believer-that-every-second-counts, allergic-to-mean-people, lover-of-characters-and-the-arts, often-crazy-loud-and-laughing-until-it-hurts-51-year-old glamour girl!
Who were some of your biggest artistic influences growing up?
My artistic influences have to be my mother and Frank Lloyd Wright. My designs are always easy, open and free-flowing. I love incorporating the kitchen, dining, family and formal space into one large room. Growing up in Tiburon (Marin County), I was always in love with the Eichler homes and Frank Lloyd Wright designs because of the organic indoor-outdoor flow.
My beautiful mother designed and built all the homes we lived in. They were often featured in House Beautiful. I always loved her oversized entertainment rooms with solid-glass ceilings, indoor fountains and numerous jungle plants. Were you inside or outside?
What was the restoration process like?
The restoration process was long! I had originally redesigned and engineered the moving of walls, and all interior/exterior surfaces to show the home’s beautiful clean lines. However, it became clear that all the plumbing, electrical, HVAC and walls had to be completely gutted. I basically have a brand-new home! Two years, $2 million, and we’re here, folks! The Gala House.
What do you want guests to “feel” most from the house?
I always want my guests to feel relaxed and at home—after an initial, “Wow!” comment! I must have that “Wow!” or I’ve failed somewhere. My homes are for stilettos or bare feet. I want everyone to have that option in their minds while enjoying the home.
Did you come up with the name Gala House?
The Gala House derived from the “gala performance.” In the genre of dance, the gala is always THE main performance, No. 1, the show to see. Michael (Nickerson-Rossi, the founder of the International Dance Festival in Palm Springs) and I think The Gala House is the house to see!
What sets your estate apart from other properties appearing in Modernism Week?
Glam, glam, glam! I kept the hand-stacked granite, walnut-wood walls and multilevel roof line to honor the original home, but while the original midcentury-modern designs muted down colors, crystals and finishes, I ramped up by adding that Hollywood Regency edge. I’m in love with the midcentury design but have always felt as though there was (at least) one housewife in the ’50s standing in her floral apron staring at her home thinking, “Damn! If I just had the guts to slap some shine, glitter and glam on this before the Beaver gets home!” I feel that what I’ve done with The Gala House is something that they just weren’t ready to do back then.
How did you come in contact with the International Dance Festival?
I came in contact with Nickerson-Rossi Dance and the (festival, taking place April 2-5) through the equestrian world. I’m an international dressage competitor, and Michael loves dressage and saw my videos on Instagram. He made contact, and he also learned that I danced ballet for 13 years alongside my ice-skating career on the national and world level. Dance is in you, or it’s not! We connected immediately! He’s the brother I dreamed of growing up while my actual brother was pummeling my head into some solid object! “Why can’t he be gay?” “Why can’t he be creative?” “Why can’t he be hilariously funny?”
What drew you to be a supporter of that dance-festival group?
My family has always been a huge philanthropic presence in Palm Springs, and I feel that it is my charge to continue their work. What better way than to support something I’ve done and love? I am literally THAT girl on the dance floor—the one who does not care, and just dances for four hours straight with no particular style. … Dance is life! Who wouldn’t want to support that on every level?
Some estates are merely for show, but you actually live in your house. Is it hard maintaining the precise look of the house while living a normal life?
I’ve incorporated that into The Gala House. It is truly easy living—uncluttered and simple to clean, with all the necessities wrapped up in a show-house bow!
What makes Palm Springs so different from other artistic cities?
Simply, the desert. Where else on Earth can you find such sparse beauty with architectural designs that don’t change the landscape? There are few distractions in the desert, which often leads people to revelation. True art is revelation. Palm Springs never jumps out at you; its beauty draws you in over time.
“The Gala House—Modern Home for Modern Dance” takes place at 4 and 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are $125. For tickets or more information, visit tickets.modernismweek.com/f/mw20/gala or www.facebook.com/galahouseNRD.