Snag This Polished Desert Hideaway Near Joshua Tree for $649K

A creative pair turn a rundown midcentury cabin in Landers, California, into a clean-lined one bedroom with neutral tones and expansive views.
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Property Details:

Location: 58637 Mitch Road, Landers, California

Price: $649,000

Year built: 1964

Footprint: 728 square feet (one bedroom, one bath)

Lot size: 2.5 acres

From the agent: "Going against the grain of current renovation trends, this elegant home will delight you with thoughtful and inventive design choices at every turn, meticulously replacing nearly every aspect of previously existing structure. Just half a mile from the majestic Goat Mountain, the house sits on a gorgeous lot with almost no sign of neighbors. Property ideal for primary residence, artist retreat, vacation home, or short-term rentals—there are presently no restrictions or cap rates on number of vacation rentals in Landers—a thriving community just north of Joshua Tree."

Rising from the footprint of a dilapidated 1964 homesteader cabin, this one-bedroom, one-bath home north of Joshua Tree has been utterly transformed by Robbie Stiefel, a musician and music producer, and Cat Cannon, a documentary filmmaker and photographer. After moving to the desert in 2018, the duo taught themselves the ins and outs of permitting, construction, and project management to revive old houses.

Santa Barbara stucco covers the updated exterior, and a terraced entrance with steel-edge banding  and trapezoidal pavers creates a sense of arrival. The renovators also chose to frame "pop-out" windows that "create extra space, connect the home to the outdoors, and add depth to an otherwise boxy shape," says Stiefel.

New Milgard windows let in desert views and allow light to stream into the open-plan living, dining, and kitchen areas. A white oak credenza built into the window nook offers streamlined storage.

Few neighbors mean uninterrupted views of the landscape. "This place is so quiet, and the topography is surreal," says Cannon. "Goat Mountain, an isolated, volcanic rock formation, juts up out of the desert floor to the north of the house. To the south and west, there are panoramic mountain views, including the still snowy peak of Mount San Jacinto.

An exposed beam runs the length of the vaulted ceiling. Clerestory windows illuminate the minimalist kitchen, which features wire-brushed white oak cabinets made by Fire On the Mesa and Gobi limestone countertops from Arizona Tile. A fully integrated Blumberg dishwasher hides behind an oak panel, and a Louis Poulsen PH 5 pendant hangs over the dining space.

In the bedroom, a southern-facing reading nook built into an 80-square-foot addition is bathed in light thanks to two tremendous picture windows. The addition also holds a walk-in closet.

"Joshua trees frame the front of the house and are abundant across the property," says Cannon.

"The native landscaping includes ocotillo, palo verde, desert willow, as well as many other beautiful, desert-tolerant species," writes listing agent Bryan Wynwood. "The entire newly landscaped area has full irrigation with timer system." A decomposed granite gabion wall with concrete benches demarcates the backyard. "[The landscape] is beautiful now, but it’s exciting to think about how it all will look in a few years when everything starts to mature," adds Stiefel. 

Before: The original cabin, shown here, was drab and outdated. "Most designers or builders would have attempted to squeeze in an additional bedroom," says Stiefel. "We decided from the onset that we wouldn’t do that. Our goal with this project was to create a very spacious and luxurious one bedroom that could sleep up to four and entertain up to 10 with ease."

Before: The kitchen—which was originally on the opposite side of the house—was cramped and disorganized under unsightly ceiling tiles.

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