A Prefab Home Takes Shape Among the Boulders of Yucca Valley
The Graham Residence imagines a life where you have Joshua Tree all to yourself.
For Yoni and Lindsey Goldberg, it all started with a pink flyer on a random dirt road in Joshua Tree that simply read: "Land for sale."
Yoni and Lindsey considered themselves, at the time, quintessential Los Angeles "city folk" who weren’t looking to buy a vacation house, but the flyer seemed like an invitation to—at the very least—imagine a different way of life.
The couple had visited Joshua Tree on one of their early dates and, now on their anniversary trip a year later, it all seemed more kismet than random, according to the couple.
That number led them to a realtor, who then led them down many other dirt roads and eventually to what they now call the Graham Residence.
Yoni and Lindsey experienced the light-gauge steel structure for the first time much like their now-visitors do: wondering where exactly the house even is.
"This treacherous road seemed kind of crazy, but the moment we stepped foot into this space, we just knew that this was it," says Lindsey. "And we had to find a way to buy this house."
The Graham Residence emerges—almost floating—from the boulders. The hybrid prefab residence sits on upright columns that are bolted to isolated concrete footings, which is what makes the home look like it’s levitating over the landscape.
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It sits on a 10-acre parcel at 4,000 feet above sea level in Rock Reach in the heart of the Yucca Valley, surrounded by juniper berries, rugged terrain, and pinyon pines. All around it is public land, and the only neighbors are blue jays, hummingbirds, and the occasional coyote.
"I love that push and pull of beautiful design and comfort with an adventurous road and feeling like you’re really outside your comfort zone," says Yoni.
The indoor/outdoor Graham Residence is 1,200 square feet and has two bedrooms, a shared bath, and an open-concept living, dining, and kitchen area. The front of the house opens up to a 300-square-foot cantilevered porch, while the rear has an additional 144 square feet of outdoor space.
The home was commissioned in 2011 by Gordon Graham, and in an ode to the midcentury design that it channels, the couple decided to name it after the original homeowner. (Graham obviously did not build the home during the midcentury, but wanted it to exist as a portal back in time.)
It was designed by Palm Springs-based o2 Architecture and manufactured by Blue Sky Building Systems, featuring prefabricated exterior wall panels, clerestory windows, and walnut casework. Graham incorporated many nods to the show "Mad Men" in the original home, including an exact replica of the couch that Don Draper passes out on in an episode in Palm Springs.
"This place is so perfectly designed to be midcentury. It’s perfect for a vacation home in my opinion because you don't have a lot of storage, but you also don't need a lot of storage," says Yoni. "But this would probably be a difficult house to live full-time in."
Yoni and Lindsey kept the house mostly as is (including many vintage midcentury lighting fixtures), but added a firepit, barbecue, and jacuzzi on a nearby ridge to entertain friends and Airbnb visitors alike.
"We found that a lot of the guests that stay here, similarly, once they arrive, they don't want to leave. They don’t realize they basically have their own private national park here," says Yoni. "Some people come all the way out to Joshua Tree intending to go to the park and then never even visit, because they feel like they have everything they need here."
The house runs on solar for most of the day, but is still connected to the electrical grid for off-hours. They rely on propane for their firepit, barbecue, and water heating, including for their outdoor shower.
"That’s why you can rent it and you can come stay here and we have people visit, because it feels like something that’s almost too special to just keep to ourselves," Lindsey says.
"We had a 93-year-old visitor who wanted to see the desert for one last time. We’ve had birthday parties, we’ve had multiple anniversaries, and it’s just really touching to read the guestbook and see what people celebrated here," adds Yoni.