"For every raised monster truck, there is someone who has opened a crystal shop," says designer Claire Thomas about the location of her new project with cinematographer Yayo Ahumada. "Yucca Valley is a really interesting and accurate snapchat of California, and the different cultures and personalities that are intersecting."
While Joshua Tree has been a hot spot for years, real estate prices have skyrocketed—and Yucca Valley, which could be called Joshua Tree’s hip little sister, is the new go-to for those seeking a desert escape with shopping, restaurants, and more affordable properties.
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With a low budget and high ambition, Thomas and Ahumada set off to find their "unicorn in the desert." They eventually landed a one-story ranch home with knotty pine walls set on five untouched acres filled with boulders, cacti, and even jackrabbits.
The duo wanted to rent the space out for visitors and creative projects (like short films, music videos, and brand partnerships), so the house and the site had to have a very particular sense of place, with both visual and emotional impact.
While designing the retreat, which they have since dubbed the Oeste Home, the pair were inspired by unique stays like San Luis Obispo’s Madonna Inn, with its themed bedrooms and tongue-in-cheek decor. Accordingly, the home has a soothing agave-themed room, an all-pink bedroom that’s a nod to I Dream of Genie, a sun-filled master suite with a circular window, a DIY pergola, and a neutral living room with a homemade coffee table and terrazzo details.
The main spaces are all colorful, so the kitchen, living, and dining areas play to the opposite. The pair gutted the kitchen to create a highly functional space fit for entertaining, with simple concrete slabs and cabinet fronts by Semihandmade for IKEA. "I want guests to be able to cook with turmeric without worrying about staining anything," Thomas remarks.
In the living room, which was inspired by the highly photographed Phillip Dixon house in Venice Beach, terrazzo is the real star. There’s a built-in terrazzo couch with planters, and Thomas used leftover terrazzo blocks to fill a cutout between the living room and the adjacent listening room. "Terrazzo is a huge part of Mexican design, because it lasts forever," she says.
The guest bedroom has another cinematic moment with a gilded bathtub, a salvaged antique Tudor window from a Hancock Park home, and Moroccan-style tiles from Concrete Collaborative. "It shows that all of these design styles reference other cultures and times," she adds.
The patio features a DIY pergola made of leftover timber and foraged fire-resistant ocotillo. The triangle-shaped seating structure is an homage to a similar one Thomas saw at a rooftop patio while in Marrakech. The pink hue mimics the sunset, and a nearby copper tub provides a place for guests to cool off.
Overall, the Oeste Home is full of surprising DIYs and international finds—and it’s the perfect gateway to the beauty of Yucca Valley. If you’d like to reserve a stay, bookings are currently available via Airbnb.
Builder/General Contractor: Michael A. Wilson
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