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Saxony Design Build: Historically Inspired

04/02/12    Sara McLean  |  specs+spaces Editor, Dunn-Edwards Corporation, Allied Member ASID, CMG

Josh Cain, co-owner of Saxony Design Build, is proud to showcase his latest design creation: historic Villa Alegre, also known as the Crane House,  in Palm Springs for the Celebrity Doodles Event held on March 31, 2012. 
I sat down with Josh at Ville Alegre to discuss this latest project, how he got started in design and what he finds inspiring. Here is his story:
Design Background
Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Josh had a love of art and was going to college for a fine arts degree, when through happenstance, heard of the Interior Design program at the Art Institute in Denver. He knew instantly this is where he needed to be.
As luck and a lot of talent would have it, Josh began his first business his first year of design school called Ambiance Interior Design, located within a local luxury kitchen and bath showroom. The owners of the showroom only wanted to sell cabinetry and provided Josh the opportunity to hone his skills by giving him free reign on all other design aspects.

Villa Alegre, the Crane House
Then, during a class trip to Los Angeles for NeoCon, he fell in love with Los Angeles and knew this is where he wanted to land after college. Soon after, his dreams came true and he found his first design job in Los Angeles prior to starting up Saxony Design Build.
Saxony Design Build
Saxony Design Build is comprised of two owners, Josh Cain, interior design, and Jeff Godbold, general contractor. First meeting at Pasadena Showcase where they were working on the project, they realized that teaming up would allow for a complete design vision. From construction to final linens or “pour to silver” as Josh says, the team would be able to provide all design needs and wants. As Josh states, “It just made sense to combine efforts.”
Currently located in Burbank, California, they are completing renovations on a historic 1927 Mediterranean Revival property in Los Olivos, California, and will be moving there within a month. And with an impressive list of clientele, the team has gained attention as a top firm for luxury design.
Design Aesthetics and What Josh Finds Inspiring
With a talent for designing any type of style, I asked Josh what he finds most inspiring in design and architecture. He reflects on this for a moment and looks around, “I guess I find the California Spanish style is what I love to do most, but I’ll design any style the client wants,” and further explains, “anything historically-inspired or vintage speaks to me.” With a background in art history and showcasing over the years at the Pasadena Showcase Home for the Arts, his work speaks to this aesthetic.  Also, a belief in architectural renderings for each of his projects set his company apart from much of the competition and provides further depth to the designs, especially for historical works. 
Sample architectural renderings for Villa Alegre, the Crane House
On color, Josh finds he can’t live without gray, which is perfect for this trend in gray coloring we’re seeing these days. Yet, does he shy away from any color? “Absolutely! I can’t stand purple…and I’m not really sure why, but I won’t use it,” he emphatically states. And his favorite Dunn-Edwards color is DEW341 Swiss Coffee, with its serene and spare feeling in a room, while still offering gentle warmth. His love of neutrals carries over in all design, “I tend to design in neutrals and use colors as accent. I guess it's my love of art and architectural history, so I shy away from anything too trendy,” exclaims Josh.
Dunn-Edwards Perfect Palette Colors used at the Crane House
DEW358 Milk Glass
DE6063 Black Walnut
DE6369 Legendary Gray 
DE6334 Long Lake
DEC750 Bison Beige
DEC764 Inside Passage

DEW341 Swiss Coffee

Villa Alegre: The Crane House
Walking through Villa Alegre, also known as the Charles Crane house, Josh provides background on the home’s history and his design for the clients. Built in 1926 for Charles Crane as a vacation home, this was one of the first homes built in the Las Palmas area of Palm Springs in the 1920s by developer Prescott T. Stevens and contractor Alvah Hicks. Within this community there are about twenty Spanish Colonial style homes built by them that are still largely intact to this day.
Ville Alegre, the Crane House, property surrounding the home
Charles Richard Crane (1858-1939), born in Chicago, worked at the family firm, the Crane Company, one of the largest manufacturers of plumbing equipment and related supplies in the world. In 1912, he became President and two years later sold most of his holdings to his brother, Richard Teller Crane, Jr. for about $15 million. This sale allowed his to pursue his other interests including travel, philanthropic activities, and public service. Charles Crane passed away at his home, Villa Alegre, in 1939.
Villa Alegre, views of family room, two-story shower and art studio

Over the years, the home has been remodeled and altered, even removing many of its Spanish roots at a time to be more French-inspired.  Josh and Saxony Design Build entered the picture when the property went on the market and the property owner, who loves Josh’s work, hired his firm to do a complete rehabilitation to the property. For the past year, most of the original details have been saved and restored. And with this restoration, a sense of elegant grandeur has come back to the property and the original Spanish Colonial home is at last back to its original vision.
Villa Alegre, the Crane House: design details finalize the look of the property inside and out from keeping original tile details, custom molding details to redesigning the entire landscape plan
The client, only the sixth owner of the property, gave Josh the freedom to design from top to bottom with little input other than wanting tile floors and the fountain in the back courtyard to be noisy enough to drown out any neighborhood noise. The owner, upon seeing it, absolutely loved it and is proud of his part in restoring a piece of Palm Springs history.
What’s Next?
Saxony Design Build is busy with a myriad of projects and can next be seen at the 48th annual Pasadena Showcase home event and the California Homes Magazine Orange County Showcase home event, both held through May 2012. Also, the home owner of the Crane House has hired the firm to work on his mid-century modern home in Pasadena. With these and other projects from Palm Springs to Los Olivos, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Josh Cain and Saxony Design Build.
To find out more or contact Josh Cain,
All photography by Sara McLean and with courtesy and permission of Saxony Design Build

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