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On Location of our new FUNBOY collab: The Gerald and Betty Ford Estate

July 31, 2018 3 min read

On Location of the latest FUNBOY collab: The Gerald and Betty Ford Estate
When launching our new collab, we knew we needed an epic location for our photoshoot. It had to be amazing, photogenic, timeless and the best of the best. Luckily for us, we met the fabulous entertainment exec John McIlwee on Instagram a few years ago (thank you DM’s!), who just so happens to own Gerald and Betty Ford’s historical Rancho Mirage estate in Palm Springs. John, along with his better half Bill Damaschke, purchased the home in 2012 and have since completely restored the home to its former glory (and have thrown some fantastic parties, of course!).
See our interview with John below!
FUNBOY at the Ford Estate
Above: The FUNBOY girls in the Ford Estate living room! 
Was your decision to purchase the estate influenced by the history and previous owners?
110%. We went on an architectural tour of the Firestone Estate, when Betty was still living in house, so we had to pass through Secret Service at the gate into the neighborhood. The Ford Estate had this feeling of mystery and history at the same. The Ford’s were beloved in the desert so there was a bidding frenzy when it came o the market and luckily, the family decided that we were the right people to care for the house, so we were honored to be chosen.
The Ford Estate
Above: The Ford Estate house. 
We loved that you kept the interior of the house true to the original design. What made you guys want to do that?
We live in a world that is so quick to disregard the original for new. The house was exactly as the Fords had lived in it, which we loved. There was four areas that needed to be reconfigured: the master bathroom, the kitchen, the pool and the landscaping. But, other than that, everything is original. Our architects, Marmol and Radziner, are amazing with renovations and restorations, so they helped us redefined the spaces.
Above: The FUNBOY girls in the Ford Estate living room!
What was the most challenging part of restoring a historic property like this?
That it was all original and that some of it wasn’t the highest quality. Remember, the house was built in a time when presidents didn’t make that much money while in office. Luckily, the Fords made smart choices when it came to architecture and building site, so we were able to upgrade surfaces and features but not affect the original integrity.
FUNBOY at the Ford Estate
Above: One of the FUNBOY girls in a Ford Estate bedroom. 
What are your favorite/the most special parts of the house?
The dining room. It was like a time capsule--all original and all in perfect shape. Would we have chosen lime green as a design element? Probably not. But, it is where dignitaries, like the Kissingers and the Annenbergs, and other former and presidents dined with the Fords, so the history in that room is off the charts.
 I also love the kitchen and the pool. We had to re-configure the existing space because it was a cook’s kitchen with very little light and windows so we blew out the area and combined it with the staff living room (we don’t have any staff now!). It is now an amazing, open room with a wall of windows that open out to the pool and the mountains. President Ford swam every day, so wanted to respect and embrace his favorite part of the house.
Ford Dining Room
Above: The lime green dining room and the part of the entryway. 
Seems like you guys know how to have fun at the estate, what’s the best party that’s been thrown at the house so far?
It sounds cliche, but the first weekend Coachella, the year after we we bought the place. I have a really fun, smart group of friends I travel with and they all descended on the house that first year. It was pretty special.
Above: Our FUNBOY girls. 
What do you think Betty would think of FUNBOYs in the pool?
I think that she would absolutely love it! There’s a portrait of Betty that hangs in the entryway that was given to her as a birthday present by Nelson Rockefeller. The Ford family wanted us to keep the portrait in the house because it is part of the bones of the house. She was a smart woman who did amazing things for our society and Palm Springs area. She was fun and classy, too, which are two words that I think perfectly describe all things FUNBOY! 
Betty Ford
Above: The picture of Betty Ford that hangs in the entryway. Hi, Betty! 
What do you do when you're not restoring historical presidential homes?  
Photo credits: The New York Times, Celeste Barrett and Darren Versoza. 

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