By their very nature, the Swiss Misses suggest fairyland. One owner has gone even further, placing a lion on his front lawn along with a Dr. Seuss-like light stanchion, adding an archway of rock to the entrance, and painting the trim turquoise and the support poles lavender.
The Gands, whose Keck-and-Keck house in Chicago is flat-roofed and serious, enjoy their desert home because it is neither. "Every roofline in here was angled," Gary says, remembering how he fell in love with the Swiss Miss. "Everything is kooky and cockeyed -- versus our other house, which is a Miesian box."
Besides writing about the Swiss Misses, Joan has formed an informal Swiss Miss Club, e-mailing other owners to get together for 'meetings' to socialize and exchange Swiss Miss tips.
Bob Dickenson encountered his Swiss Miss, which is a few doors from the Gands', at an open house. "We saw that soaring roofline, the view up to the mountain. It seemed to epitomize the Palm Springs life," he says. "The high ceilings make such a difference," says Justine Hamilton, whose Swiss Miss is on the other side of the subdivision. "I could never live in another house with standard 12-foot ceilings."
Still, Krisel isn't the only one who has had misgivings about the houses. Robert Baeten, who lives in a Krisel-designed house in Vista Las Palmas, found them an immediate turn-off. "They reminded me of the International House of Pancakes," he says. Since then, he concedes, his fondness has grown.
Fashion designer Mark Ware also had his doubts. "I didn't get it at first," he says. But today, while awaiting completion of a custom home, he's living in a rental Swiss Miss that's been engagingly restored to an early '60s vibe, complete with blue shag rug. He's a convert. "Some people love the whole idea of a Swiss Miss," he says, "and some people don't get it."
Swiss Misses can easily be spotted by cruising the streets of Vista Las Palmas. Strolling or biking is even better. The neighborhood, one of the city's most picturesque, is bounded by Stevens Road on the north, Crescent Drive on the south, Via Monte Vista on the east, and the mountains on the west. Among streets with Swiss Mises are Rose Avenue, Crescent Drive, Via Las Palmas, Via Vadera, Camino Sur, Dry Falls Road, and Abrigo Road.
Photos: John Eng