Design Dish: Dawn Marie Haynes

Here at M we like to dig down and meet the makers, the real people behind the pretty objects.  We ask independent makers, artists, and multi-hyphenate creators about their life, work, and get them to dish about a little bit more.  

Dawn Marie Haynes is a former celebrity fashion stylist, event planner, travel expert, and now the owner/builder of custom residential projects. Her own home was featured in the Palm Desert Signature Home Tour during Modernism Week. Read on as the Jill-of-all-trades dishes about her star-studded past, present projects, and dreams for the future.

Please share a little about yourself! 

My name is Dawn Marie Haynes. I am a former celebrity fashion stylist/designer. I began styling at a very young age. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world with iconic stars such as Halle Berry, Usher, Eddie Murphy, Quincy Jones, Common, Samuel Jackson, Jeremy Piven and many others. Traveling with legendary clients was quite the experience and then the industry changed. Sadly, the budgets were no longer the same and my clients began delving into other ventures. I too was growing and reinventing myself. I invested in a 1929 Spanish Castle in Glendale, California.  The home was absolutely stunning, but it was dated. The home had a bathroom in the kitchen, really low ceilings, narrow doorways, small closets and horrible paint. Within a matter of a year, I was in the planning department, meeting engineers and architects. I was determined to redesign this house. I began laying out the scrolls with an engineer on one side of me and the architect on the other. I was sketching and they were looking at me like, how do you know how to do this? They asked had I gone to school for this? I said, no, I just have vision, truth be told I just applied my fashion design skills. As I began to understand how to design homes and build, the architect decided to step away and he allowed me to design with the engineer. It turned out to be one of the most spectacular homes in the area and I knew this soon would become my passion. I literally began to learn about the bones of a home, rafters, posts and beams. In hindsight what I didn’t know was that they were guiding and teaching me along the way of how to become a builder. During the building stages, I developed friendships with my inspectors and contractors because I wanted to learn as much as possible from them.  The beauty here was that they too were willing to share their knowledge.

How did you end up in Palm Desert?

After my father passed away, my mother and I moved to Playa Del Rey in California. So I went to Westchester High School, Santa Monica College, and then I graduated from Long Beach State University. My desires and goals at that time were to become an attorney. I wanted to go to Pepperdine University, and I aspired to become an entertainment attorney. But, you know, life throws you curveballs at times and the ball I caught was to become a stylist/designer. During the time that I attended high school, Palm Springs was the place to come to for spring break. I would come here for vacation and it was so much fun. Then in 2018, a close friend purchased a house in Palm Desert. She called me and asked me to renovate her house while she was going to be away for three months. So I did just that. I started renovating her house and every morning, I would go for these long walks. I fell in love with Palm Desert.  As I was walking one morning, I saw a “for sale” sign. I called my realtor and asked him to place an offer before I even went inside. I just knew in my spirit that this was my house, although from the exterior you could see that the home definitely needed to be revamped. During the renovation process, I allowed the house to speak to me. This Palm Desert renovation was screaming for an open space layout. It needed large windows and natural sunlight. I gutted the entire home all the way down to its studs. I added approximately 1500 square feet, renovated the pool and added a casita. I swing sledgehammers, use jackhammers and even drive tractors, so I went right into the backyard and began removing the dirt. We removed trees and created a custom modern home with large rooms, high ceilings, lots of windows and an outdoor oasis.

Were there any challenges or lessons learned that influenced the way you design now? 

The beauty of it all is that I don’t look at mistakes as failures. I look at it as an absolute lesson to grow and build upon because not only am I the owner/builder, I’m also a project manager and  I manage my contractors’ time and my clients’ budgets while renovating their homes. So, I learn from my mistakes and perfect my game plan. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is time management. It is crucial to schedule all of the subcontractors in a timely manner.  I would absolutely say that time management is the most crucial aspect to building a home.

How did you become involved with Modernism Week? What was your experience like showcasing your home this year?

I have heard about Modernism Week over the years. It’s still on my bucket list to ride my bike and have the opportunity to view several of the gorgeous midcentury homes in the Palm Springs and Palm Desert, throughout these unique neighborhoods. I was absolutely honored when Troy Kudlac from KUD Properties invited me to be a part of the Palm Desert Signature Home Tour.

To my surprise they had been watching me build from start to finish. I think that the reward here was that when you perform to the best of your ability and reveal excellence you will reap the accolades. So there’s nothing that I could have desired more than to have had my custom home featured during Modernism Week. 

How does the way that you style kind of inform the way that you design?

I wear a lot of hats! I design everything, I choose paint colors, light fixtures, appliances, interior furniture, even the desert landscape. I see the entire project through from the beginning to the end. I attribute that to my fashion experience because when you start building an outfit or a home, you have to have a strong foundation from the inception as well as  a general design, era and style. I envision where the windows will go based on the sunset and sunrise. This holds true to when I once designed Eddie Murphy’s tux with Donatella Versace.  I am cognizant of the entire design from start to red carpet.  Presently, the most important aspect to designing a clients home is their lifestyle and family structure. It is all in the details.

Do you have any fun projects on the horizon? 

Recently I was asked to renovate a chateau on a 14 acre winery in Ojai, and I’m super excited about it. I find that when I’m busy, I’m the happiest. I love to create. I’m a perfectionist and a hard worker. I still smile and get super giddy when my creative juices begin to flow, perhaps because building and designing homes truly is my passion.

How can you be reached?

My company is Dawn Marie Haynes, Inc. and the best way to reach me is by email:

Images courtesy of Dawn Marie Haynes