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The way Berkus tells it, the feeling was mutual. “They are, as a family, among the most down-to-earth people I have ever worked with. It was apparent to me that this was about creating a beautiful and comfortable family home, not for entertaining per se. It was going to be a gathering place for all of them to relax and unwind,” he says. Berkus worked with the Romanos on every detail of the build, helping to choose everything from materials to artwork. “We laughed the whole time,” Berkus says.

Despite La Quinta’s proximity to the midcentury-modern mecca Palm Springs, Berkus wasn’t too keen on leaning into kidney-shaped-pool Americana. Instead, he looked to Italian country homes, specifically Sicilian farmhouses, which are often quite boxy and unadorned. “We showed Anna a lot of those images and she responded right away. A lot of homes in their neighborhood are quite designed. This project, from the very beginning, was about what we could subtract, and what we could do to make something simpler and more elegant,” he says.

While Anna was deeply involved with the design process, Ray had just a few requests, all of which were delivered on. “I wanted some kind of cozy feel to it. That’s all. I was very vague,” he says. “In the bedroom, I wanted a pop-up TV. That was important for me. And I fell in love with a bunk bed room that we saw at the Ritz-Carlton in Sundance that my kids stayed in. And I said, ‘I want a room like that.’”

Of course, these days, the kids aren’t staying in the bunk bed room when they visit. Two out of the four of them are engaged, and each has their own bedroom. The bunk bed room is for someone else entirely: “We’re waiting for grandkids,” Anna says. And though there are no little ones in the family just yet, the beds will be filled this April when guests arrive to celebrate the wedding of one of the Romanos’ sons. They’ll be hosting a post-wedding breakfast at the home, with the splendor of the desert mountains serving as the perfect backdrop.

Shop out the look of the house here

“I always turn to history first as inspiration, and one wouldn’t think that a new build of that square footage and magnitude near Palm Springs would have any reference to a rustic Sicilian farmhouse, but I think we were able to do that,” Nate Berkus says.

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