Looking for a place to get away? Experience western living at its finest with these dreamy vacation rentals that blend top-notch amenities with inspiring design.
As owners of The Joshua Tree House – a 1949 hacienda and neighboring casita in Joshua Tree, California – Sara and Rich Combs were already veteran Airbnb hosts and home remodelers when they discovered an abandoned inn on the western edge of Arizona’s Saguaro National Park. Left neglected for more than a decade, the 1970s-built, five-suite inn needed major repairs and a whole lot of updating, but the place had good bones, and it was situated on 38 idyllic acres with a glorious canyon-style pool and native plants galore. For Sara and Rich, the inn’s pros outweighed its cons, and the couple soon got to work renovating and reviving each space, filling the rooms with the modern desert flair for which their other vacation rentals are known. Now the property – renamed JTH Tucson – is once again a haven for families, friends, and couples looking for a serene desert escape that’s as uplifting to the eye as it is to the soul. Rent the entire inn (up to 14 guests) or a single suite. Rates from $2,200 per night for the full inn; from $196 per night for an individual suite; thejoshuatreehouse.com/tucson.
The inn features several cozy common spaces, like this light and bright sunken living room, where guests can meet new friends or spend quality time with old ones. Woven pendants and salvaged wood ceiling beams add warmth to the white walls and upholstered seating, while a contemporary art piece by Julia Kostreva Rosenthal and a menagerie of patterned rugs and pillows pep things up with little pops of color.
Outdoor spaces abound on the property, including the main rooftop patio, which offers treetop views and plentiful seating areas. The property also features multiple private outdoor spaces, as well as a shared outdoor lounge with a fire pit, a shared dining space that seats up to 14, a stone-surround hot tub, and a pool.
While each of the suites at the inn comes equipped with a full kitchen or kitchenette, this shared kitchen adjacent to the shared living room is a great space for groups large and small to gather and cook. When the Combses found the property, the kitchen was in complete disarray, missing cabinetry, some flooring, and some walls. But many of the room’s charming details were already in place, including the natural light, the oversize fireplace (one of 13 on the property), and the ceiling made from saguaro ribs and reclaimed telephone poles. Guests may also book chef-prepared private meals in advance.
Every sleep space at the inn has been designed for maximum comfort. All the suites are decked out with at least one cozy fireplace, and every bed features a mattress, pillows, and linen sheets by Arizona-based Tuft & Needle. The rooms also aren’t short on wow-worthy design moments, from the Yucca Room’s mustard-yellow headboard by California-based Norwegian Wood (and matching beehive fireplace) to the sand-colored Cholla Room, accented with a vintage Moroccan rug from Soukie Modern and a cute woven desk chair from Serena & Lily.
Photography: Courtesy of Margaret Austin Photography.
Deep in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, on a 120-acre tract surrounded by mesas, L.A.-based residential designer Jeremy Levine pulled off an architectural feat so impressive that describing it required new terminology. Dubbed by Levine as “Cowboy Modernism,” the design style of the 1,200-square-foot house – built as a retreat for the designer and his family but available for short-term rental through Airbnb – is a contemporary take on the ranchland structures that populate the area. “I wanted to capture the Old West in a modern building,” Levine says. “I wanted to make the house feel like it belonged in the desert.” To balance the steel and glass of the modern eco-friendly abode, Levine used locally sourced reclaimed lumber inside and out, giving the home a weathered look that helps it blend into the landscape. He also designed the sloped, standing-seam metal roof to echo the silhouette of the mountains in the distance. Aside from its design, the property is notable, too, for its total solitude. “We’re in a canyon, so you don’t hear a thing, not even a distant car,” Levine says. “I can’t romanticize it enough. It’s magical.” Rates from $740 per night; hawkandmesa.com.
In an effort to minimize disturbance to the property’s desert ecosystem, Levine opted for a zero-waste system when building the house, prefabricating parts of the structure off-site and therefore reducing construction waste and build time. The sustainable home, situated in Pipes Canyon, near Joshua Tree National Park, is a 10-minute drive from Pioneertown, an 1880s-themed community founded in 1946 by a group of Hollywood investors, including Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. The community, which eventually became a real town, served as a living movie set for films and TV shows throughout the 1940s and ’50s.
The open layout of the light-filled great room – which includes a kitchen, living, and dining space – makes the home feel larger than its modest square footage, while the large windows and glass doors connect guests to the landscape both visually and physically. The room’s polished concrete floors, clean white walls, and exposed ductwork give the space an industrial vibe, which is toned down by the salvaged-wood ceiling, as well as the earth-toned and natural wood furnishings. The sleek kitchen features IKEA cabinets, Caesarstone countertops, and KitchenAid appliances, and the living room comes equipped with a smart TV and Bluetooth speaker.
To create the ultimate indoor-outdoor living experience, Levine included 1,000 square feet of covered porches. The house’s roof overhangs form a shaded wraparound deck that stretches the length of the house, with areas for outdoor grilling, dining, and lounging. The designer also oriented the house to minimize solar heat gain and capture the natural breezes that flow through the canyon. The lounge chairs, dining table, and dining chairs are all by IKEA.
The home can sleep up to four guests in two bedrooms, which are positioned on opposite ends of the house for maximum privacy. Both bedrooms feature luxurious Saatva mattresses and offer direct patio access and magnificent views of the surrounding nature. In fact, the house is oriented so that every room has a different but equally majestic view. The home also has two bathrooms, both with walk-in showers, and a washer and dryer. To further the home’s eco-friendly mission, all gray water from the sinks, showers, and washing machine is recycled for irrigation.To create the ultimate indoor-outdoor living experience, Levine included 1,000 square feet of covered porches. The house’s roof overhangs form a shaded wraparound deck that stretches the length of the house, with areas for outdoor grilling, dining, and lounging. The designer also oriented the house to minimize solar heat gain and capture the natural breezes that flow through the canyon. The lounge chairs, dining table, and dining chairs are all by IKEA.
A boulder-lined, concrete path leads from the house to a Jacuzzi-brand hot tub and cowboy tub, a nod to the Old West practice of repurposing galvanized livestock troughs as bathtubs. Both of the tubs, like the house itself, are clad in reclaimed lumber. Other outdoor amenities include an outdoor shower, a hammock, a custom fire table, a propane-fed barbecue grill – and, at night, a sky full of stars. Thanks to the property’s lack of light pollution, stargazing is an unparalleled outdoor activity.
Photography: Courtesy Lance Gerber.
Round Top, Texas
For the past 10 years, design-minded treasure hunters who travel from all over the country to shop Round Top’s famous antique shows and explore the tiny Texas town’s burgeoning food and drink scene have flocked to The Vintage Round Top. What started as a single cottage – a renovated 100-year-old farmhouse just a mile from town – has turned into a collection of four cottages, all sporting a unique twist on the “modern vintage” design aesthetic owners Paige and Smoot Hull first perfected a decade ago. Available to rent through Airbnb, VRBO, and The Vintage Round Top website, the property’s lodging options include No. 1450, the original 2,400-square-foot farmhouse; Boho, a 2,000-square-foot cottage with a more modern bent; and a duo of cozy 400-square-foot studios. What all the cottages have in common is an inspiring mix of modern and vintage design elements, including one-of-a-kind gems the Hulls have found everywhere from the streets of Paris to the fields of Round Top. “A lot of what’s in Boho is from shopping trips to Paris,” Paige says. “Other people see it as decor, but when we’re there, it brings back memories. We remember exactly where we bought that particular item and the ice cream we ate afterwards. It’s things like that we hope will inspire people – showing the soul of the pieces and how they attach to our story.” Rates vary depending on the cottage and the day, but the high-season antique show rate for No. 1450 is $750 per night, and for Boho, it’s $825 per night. thevintageroundtop.com.
The Vintage Round Top sits on one and a half acres on the main road that leads into and out of Round Top. The property’s two main lodging spaces – No. 1450 and Boho – are connected by a shared mudroom, which can be locked if the houses are being occupied by two different parties or left open if one party wants to rent both houses. The Hulls enlisted Houston-based architecture firm MaRS, Mayfield and Ragni Studio to help them take an empty garage and transform it into the serene Boho cottage.
In Boho’s 900-square-foot great room, a vaulted ceiling accented with reclaimed wood beams gives the space an open and airy feel, while the mix of seating arrangements – including a set of daybeds with twin, extra-long mattresses that can double as sleep spaces – make it comfy and cozy. The New England white pine floors might appear vintage, but they’re actually brand new. The reclaimed look is thanks to a four-step DIY process of distressing, staining, painting, and sanding. “You can buy vintage,” Paige says, “or create it if need be.”
Old doors taken from a cotton gin in the South Texas town of Devine separate the great room from the kitchen, where brass countertops by Houston Custom Metal Works add a glam touch to the modern vintage space. The doors can be closed if needed, a detail that appeals especially to the many guests who rent the house for retreats, workshops, and other events.
One of two bedrooms in the Boho cottage, the primary bedroom features a king bed flanked by antique nightstands. The custom bedding and textiles, including the pillows made from vintage velvet, were a collaboration with Carol Hicks Bolton, owner of a beloved antiques emporium in Fredericksburg, Texas, and the mentor who taught Paige and Smoot how to scour Europe for the best vintage finds. Both bedrooms, which each include attached full bathrooms, offer handmade Stearns & Foster mattresses and direct access to a private patio.
With its custom metal light fixtures, vintage decor, and reclaimed woods, No. 1450 has an industrial farmhouse vibe throughout. The two-bedroom home includes two and a half baths, a spacious living room, a full kitchen, a dining room that seats up to eight, and a charming covered front porch. No matter which cottage you rent, however, you can take a little bit of The Vintage Round Top home with you. The Hulls’ online shop offers everything from vintage apothecary bottles and other one-of-a-kind finds to hand-crafted ceramics by L.A.-based Style Union Home.
Photography: Courtesy of Haylei Smith.
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