My House: Interior Designer Melissa Young's SoCal Desert Hacienda

My House: Interior Designer Melissa Young's SoCal Desert Hacienda

Melissa Young, founder of interior design firm, My Studio ID, invites us inside her luxe desert getaway—complete with teepee, endless textiles, and a VW dune buggy.

Young’s love of design and architecture began at an early age. As a child, she watched her aunt map out beautiful Parisian hotels. It was after visiting her aunt's showroom, teeming with bold textiles and vintage furniture, that Young knew she’d follow the same path. 

An aerial view of Melissa Young's desert hacienda.

Today, Young runs a 15-person team at My Studio ID, which has completed over 200 hospitality projects—including 25 restaurants in Burger Lounge's growing empire. The bulk of her firm’s work has focused on restaurants, including six unique (and ultra Instagram-able) locations for Halo Top Creamery. This spring brings the studio's first hotel opening—a midcentury modern, three-story hostel in San Diego called Stay Classy. 

An entire wall opens up to the landscape for streamlined indoor/outdoor living.

Shop the Look
Léon & George Desert Cactus
Make a statement with this tall angular cactus and its yellow/green pattern. With thorns as sharp and tough as its personality, it is a low maintenance and attractive piece that will draw the attention of anyone. Like most cacti, it likes desert conditions with a lot of light and not a lot of water.
Rejuvenation Skyline Flatweave Rug
Beautiful in eclectic spaces as well as traditional room designs, our Skyline Rug combines a wool and cotton blend, rich color palette, and geometric diamond pattern for a timeless look that suits any room in the house.

Three kiva fireplaces—and a large collection of rugs and textiles—offer warmth on cold desert nights.

As her work takes her to many locations, Young, naturally, has more than one home. During the workweek, she lives on a 50-foot Beneteau sailboat called Gypsymoon in San Diego. She spends a few weeks of the year in Northern California in a redwood cabin on a river, and on the weekends, she lives in her desert hacienda. "It is the epitome of California living—mountains, desert, and sea," she says.

The 5,000-square-foot home has a main house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and a one-bed, one-bath casita. It’s the epitome of a Santa Fe-style hacienda with a single story, endless loggias, and desert panoramas visible from every room.

Young took cues from the home's architecture to refine the space while filling it with fresh decor. The floors are brick laid in sand, while large plank wood ceilings lie overhead. Adding to the neutral palette, the dining room is teeming with textures.

The property sits on 30 acres and backs up to Anza-Borrego—which at 700,000 acres is the largest state park in California. "From mud- and wind-sculpted caves to desert oases, sandstone to shell canyons dating back from when they were covered in warm tropical waters five million years ago, it brings a us a sense of adventure and allows us to further connect to the beautiful land we dwell on." 

Young's obsession with textiles is apparent—vintage rugs are strewn throughout the home in an array of styles and hues.

Young's home office exudes rustic glam with a painting of Frida Kahlo, vintage and contemporary lighting, polished and raw stones, and a midcentury table with plush chairs.

Where do you spend most of your time in your home? 

 We spend a lot of time outdoors. Summers by the pool, winters by the outdoor fireplace. Outdoor BBQs all year round. Again, the views are so tranquil it’s the best place to sit and relax or entertain guests. The sunsets over the mountains are unbeatable here as well as the incredible night sky. Borrego is one of the four officially designated International Dark Sky locations in the California desert, so the stargazing is pretty special. 

The 18-inch-thick adobe walls keep the house cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. An animal-themed nook situated next to a fiddle-leaf fig calls to mind a safari adventure.

Outside, Young incorporated decomposed granite, native plant species, and large date palms. She moved a lot of rocks around to add to the natural desert feel she wanted for the property. 

You have a melding of old and new in your home. As a designer, what are some tips on how to do that?

Be fearless when it comes to mixing styles. The juxtaposition of vintage, contemporary, old and new, masculine and feminine, raw and refined creates a soulful balance in a space that I find comforting. 

"The [exterior] house color had faded to pink by the time we bought it. We painted it a Sherwin Williams color called Jackson Tan, which melds into the colors of the desert."

A fireplace in the master bedroom features built-in seating.

What's one detail that made this truly feel like home? 

 My husband. Being that we have three places we call home, no matter where we are, as long as we are together, I feel like I am home. Plus, he is an amazing cook, so the house always smells delicious and homey! 

Despite the home's stylish interiors, Young is most drawn to what lies outdoors—a lounge for quiet moments and al fresco dining, a pool, an outdoor shower, the views, a 1972 VW Meyers Manx dune buggy, and a raised adobe platform with a teepee on the back veranda. 

"The teepee is 26’ canvas with pine lodge poles. It’s simple in construction as it was originally intended to be a nomadic dwelling. It is extremely reliable in the high desert winds and even great in the rain. We have a small fire pit in there to keep it toasty on cool winter evenings. It’s one my favorite places on the property."

What is your single favorite piece of decor that you own and why?

A steer head with intricate ink designs applied with a tattoo needle that I bought in San Jose del Cabo. And the moroccan rugs in the arcade. They are amazing! 

"The buggy is a 1972 VW Meyers Manx dune buggy. We bought it last year and had quite a bit of work done to it so it can handle the rugged desert terrain with ease. We added a new frame, new suspension, new tires, new wiring, and a roll cage. The engine and the body are the only original elements."

Young added an outdoor kitchen and BBQ area to entertain while taking in the landscape.

What was on your checklist when designing your home? 

When we moved in to the desert hacienda, we came from an urban condo downtown which had two bedrooms. We had tons of friends and family who wanted to come over straight away and have pool parties, so the first thing we did was make comfortable spaces for them to stay and get some pool furniture (that of course we did not have prior). The very first thing on the checklist were the necessities. We had to buy four beds plus all the pillows, cozy bedding and bath linens, a dining room table, and the outdoor furniture. Quality bedding and linens are a must.

The casita offers a cozy escape for guests. 

"Patterns, texture, and fabrics all speak to me. Whether it be rugs, throw pillows, or luxurious bedding—lovely fabrics are my happy place."

What items for the home would you say are the most important to invest in? 

 The textile lover in me would say authentic rugs. They are versatile and can be used in so many different ways. The quality and beauty of hand-woven rugs made with such intricacy by different cultures is a sure way to add depth and story to a home. The practical part of me would say a quality mattress and amazing linens for each room! 

"The loggia poles around the hose at all patio areas were painted a dark green. We had them sanded to bring back their original rustic wood glory."

An outdoor shower welcomes Young home after a day out in the dunes.

What are your favorite places to shop for home decor? 

I like to find original items while traveling since they have a story to tell... The Citizenry; Crate and Barrel is great for kitchen items; Restoration Hardware; Galerie Half; antiques from Lucca Antiques.

An eclectic display of pillows showcases Young's affinity for textiles.

Want to get the look? Shop the Melissa Young style guide.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Richard Grenfeld

Lighting Design: FLX Lighting

Interior Design: Melissa Young, MY Studio ID / @my_studio_id


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