🌵🏜 Desert Oasis

I felt like I hit a wall this week. Being cooped up for so long has made me feel a lot of emotions- mostly tired- but also this deep craving to do something… to make something. In preparation for my order from the hardware store, I looked to my favorite DIY YouTuber. One of her most recent videos was a vlog about how she bought a house on 5 acres in Joshua Tree and how liberated she felt. Not just liberated, but how being in Joshua Tree made her feel complete and like a full-time vacation version of herself. I can’t remember the last time I felt like vacation me, let alone occupying that headspace all the time.

Needless to say, I didn’t even make it to the end of the video before I opened up Zillow to start looking at homes in the desert. Here are the homes that gave me that coming home to yourself feeling.

The Palm Springs Mid-Century

Location: 67389 E Palm Canyon Dr, Cathedral City, CA 92234
List Price: $1,975,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/67389-E-Palm-Canyon-Dr-Cathedral-City-CA-92234/18135502_zpid/

This home designed by Desert Modernist icon Albert Frey is the perfect time capsule of that time when Palm Springs was becoming a design capital. The current owner has taken great care to restore the home ensuring that all of the building materials are the same as they were when the house was built. While the home feels like a step back in time, it doesn’t feel musty or outdated. It feels thoroughly modern.

What I love most about this home is how connected to the desert it feels. The home is perched up into the hill making it feel much closer to the wilderness than the city. The many windows and large deck provide expansive views of the city below and out to the mountains, giving the home even more sense of separation.

It feels like exactly the kind of place I would run to if I needed to clear my head. I can only imagine what it would be like to live in this kind of home every day. For the full vacation me effect, there’s a pool nestled into the hillside just steps away.

You can learn more about the history of the home here.

The Rustic Ranch

Location: 6424 Pioneertown Rd, Pioneertown, CA 92268
List Price: $880,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/6424-Pioneertown-Rd-Pioneertown-CA-92268/17495735_zpid/

This rustic home in Pioneertown is exactly what I would picture when someone says desert home, and that’s the charm of living in a town that used to be a Western film set. While the exterior is unassuming, the interior is a bright design-focused take on Western style with modern applications of rustic materials.

The focal point of the home is undoubtedly the open-concept kitchen with its rusted metal cabinets that almost look like a dramatic marble mixed with concrete countertops and high shine steel cabinets. The view of the mountains from the clerestory windows provide a picturesque backdrop and make the home feel larger.

The design of this home strikes the right balance between fun energy from the bold mixture of color and finishes in public spaces and tranquility from the muted color palette and rustic finishes in private ones. The high ceilings and loads of natural light in the bedrooms feel like a breath of fresh air.

If that isn’t enough fresh air for you, there is a stock tank pool/hot tub from which you can take in the view of the mountains and the rest of the 10.5 acre property.

The Pueblo Revival

Location: 1103 Canyon Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501
List Price: $860,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homes/1103-Canyon-Rd-Santa-Fe,-NM,-87501_rb/6832656_zpid/

There is nothing more romantic to me than a Pueblo home with a courtyard and turquoise trim, and this home in Santa Fe is the best one I’ve seen.

From the moment you come in the front door, you’re greeted with old world charm. The main room has two kiva fireplaces tile, and the home has terracotta tile and vigas (wood beams) throughout.

While this home needs some work to bring it to its full potential, I feel really inspired by it. I would love to live here and chip away at the projects slowly over time, learning how to restore some things and how to renovate and draw out character in others.

I would be so inspired here to live out that Southwestern artist fantasy like Agnes Martin or Mary Hunter Austin. I think this room in particular would make a wonderful library and office.

The Reinvented Adobe

Location: 526 S 9th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
List Price: $985,000
Listing: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/526-S-9th-Ave-Tucson-AZ-85701/2076776320_zpid/

This house might not look like anything from the street, but it contains treasures inside. The newly constructed home contains the original Adobe structure on this site inside of the house creating a room out of it and integrating bits of the existing Adobe walls into the structure of other rooms. I’ve simply never seen anything like it, and I love the concept so much.

While you can’t appreciate the old structure from the street, I’m happy that they kept the original history of the house. It provides a connection to the place that no new construction could otherwise provide. I also love the warmth and character it brings to the space. Frankly, I wish they had run with the feeling more instead of putting in a bunch of traditional materials throughout the house.

I think there’s so much potential when you strip back the finishes and keep the focus on marrying the best of the old with the new- like the inside of the original Adobe room with the original vigas and the a newly constructed shell that gives the space higher ceilings.

There are flashes where you can see the potential to turn this into an organic modernism oasis. I just hope that potential buyers can see this potential too.


A Scandi-meets-Southwest condo: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/810-E-Palace-Ave-APT-C-Santa-Fe-NM-87501/67550419_zpid/

An off-the-grid dome house on acreage in Sedona: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/320-Bear-Mountain-Rd-Sedona-AZ-86336/2078785076_zpid/

A contemporary condo in Palm Springs: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/100-E-Stevens-Rd-UNIT-513-Palm-Springs-CA-92262/63314390_zpid/

Probably my favorite desert house of all time: https://aiasf.org/architecture/design-awards/2020-honorees/high-desert-retreat/