Joshua Tree House - The Desert Lifestyle
Joshua Tree house is an amazing home (it's actually a few homes). It almost does not seem real. The feeling of the home and it’s setting is so all encompassing that it can inspire a change in lifestyle, being more mindful, and looking differently at the world. If you think that sounds far fetched, meet Sara Combs and Rich Combs, the owners of the property.
That process happened to them. The setting was a way to reconnect with the natural cycles of the sun, and find liberation in appreciating the smallest moments of each day. There can be nothing like visiting the house yourself, but hopefully we can take you on a bit of a trip there now
1. Can you tell us the story behind Joshua Tree House?
In 2015 we (Sara and Rich Combs) found and fell in love with this charming historical home, and spent the rest of the year renovating the space to honor its history and warm energy. Before we began renovations, the house already had incredible bones—in fact we fell in love with the space before we ever stepped foot inside originally having had found it through a pixelated Craigslist ad: for sale by owner. If you’re interested in the renovation process, you can see some before and after photos here. After we completed renovations, we listed the house on Airbnb to share with others who also craved time to reflect, reset, and create. We found there was so much of a desire for this experience that soon we were unable to stay at the house ourselves (without carving out time months in advance). Long story short, we ended up moving to Joshua Tree full-time into a separate home to focus on creating experiences for others to enjoy in the desert (read more about our ideal day in Joshua Tree here). We have since also designed the Joshua Tree Casita, and the Joshua Tree Hacienda available for stays and photoshoots. Over time, The Joshua Tree House has become much more than a home, but also a lifestyle brand.
2. Both your backgrounds are web design, what made you change career/life direction?
After years of working as full-time designers (primarily web design) for other companies, we decided to go freelance. We had a craving to create something of our own, and have the flexibility and freedom to travel and move wherever we felt drawn to be. As we travelled and worked remotely, we began to crave a project that was our own, to work with our hands, and to have complete creative freedom. The Joshua Tree House fulfilled all of that, and became our passion project.
3. There are three homes on your property. The House, Casita and Hacienda. Were they all existing on the property? How long did it take to renovate? Do you have a favourite?
The House was our first property, and is about a 15 minute drive from the Hacienda and Casita which are next door to each other. They were all pre-existing homes—the house was built in 1949, and the Hacienda and Casita were built in 1958. Each space already had a great energy (which had initially drawn us in), but needed updates to varying degrees. The House took us about four months to refresh (it mainly needed a fresh coat of paint, interior styling, and some electrical upgrades). Our next project was the Casita where we got a little more involved and removed walls, and renovated the kitchen and bathroom. That project took us about five months! Our personal home the Hacienda took us the longest since we were living in it full-time while renovating (that project landed at about eight months total). We’re currently working on renovating an old inn in Tucson, AZ and are about 5 ½ months in!
4. We also see you rent out the properties via Airbnb! Wishing CA wasn’t so far away! They are so amazing!
5. Where do you find your inspiration for renovating and styling your properties?
We most often find inspiration in movement—road trips, hikes, and travels abroad. Movement and adventure expose me to new ways of thinking that may not have otherwise occurred. We also always look to our immediate exterior environment for renovating and styling interiors. We love when interior spaces reflect the colours, textures, and mood of the exterior landscape.
6. Where on the property do you like to take time out to reflect?
When we’re at our home in Joshua Tree, that space is definitely our garden. We have a yoga platform out there, and doing yoga surrounded by our little cactus jungle is my absolute favourite.
7. What’s your favourite part of the day? Sunrise, sunset or star gazing in the dark of night?
Ah that’s such a tough question, but if I have to answer it would probably be sunset. Everyday that moment as the light starts to shift and washes of color appear across the sky is the best reminder to get outside and enjoy the moment.
8. You’ve recently launched a book. Are you able to tell us a little bit about it! Can we buy this in Australia?
Yes! It’s called ‘At Home in Joshua Tree: A Field Guide to Desert Living’. At Home in Joshua Tree is a book for design/ décor, entertaining as a natural extension of home, light recipes, gardening, and mindful everyday practices. We wrote this book as a guide to reconnect with the natural cycles of the sun, and find liberation in appreciating the smallest moments of each day. It’s available to order all over the world! (you can check retailers via the bottom of this page)
9. Your gardens are amazing and you use greenery all through your properties. It looks as though it’s a very important part of your living aesthetic. Any tips with plant styling?
Thank you! It’s actually one of the design mantras in our book, ‘Always add plants (real ones)’. Plants truly make a home come alive. We’re always bringing clippings of native plants indoors to reflect our exterior environment, and of course are always planting new cacti inside as well! In our book, we detail out how to plant a cactus, as well as our favourite indoor and outdoor desert plants.
10. The desert landscape is so rugged, but yet so captivating and beautiful. What’s the best thing about living in the desert?
Life in the desert teaches us every day to toughen up, to be self sufficient, to make time for daydreams and hikes, and to appreciate small details that celebrate the ordinary, the everyday. Life here is slow, yet deliberate. We’ve never felt stronger.