Sara & Rich’s Rustic, Modern 1940s Hacienda in Joshua Tree

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Name: Sara and Rich Combs
Location: Joshua Tree, California
Size: 1,241 square feet
Years Lived In: 8 months; Owned

You may remember Sara and Rich from our House Tour of their Colorful, Calm & Sunny California Haven in San Francisco. Today, we have the pleasure of sharing their latest collaborative interiors project: their vacation home in the Mojave Desert dubbed The Joshua Tree House. In under a year, they purchased, prepped, and furnished the home, taking great care to preserve all of the original charm that makes the space so unforgettable.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Having fallen in love with Joshua Tree while visiting last year, the couple felt a strong connection to the creative community in the area. Both Sara and Rich are designers and artists by trade, and they found a well of inspiration in the golden desert landscape. When the opportunity to invest in a home just behind the historic Joshua Tree Inn presented itself to the pair, they couldn’t pass it up. Since purchasing the home in the spring, they have been happily splitting their time between San Francisco and Joshua Tree (it’s also sometimes used as an airbnb property).

The couple used their eclectic, mid-century modern sensibilities and acute attention to detail to furnish each room in the home, all without compromising the rustic feel of the space’s original 1949 construction. They have worked to highlight the space’s already-shining features with thoughtful design choices and, in the process, have put together a home that exudes warmth from the moment one steps through the front door.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern Desert Rustic

Inspiration: We were highly inspired by the subdued tones of the desert landscape, and of course the history of the house itself. With its incredible shiplap ceilings, worn concrete floors, and over 100 Joshua Trees on the property, it already had so much character. Our goal was to let those qualities shine.

Favorite Element: We love our hanging chairs in the living room! Swinging in those while listening to a record just begs for relaxation.

Biggest Challenge: We live in San Francisco, so finding the time to drive the eight hours and spend time down in Joshua Tree was definitely the biggest challenge. It was also difficult when ordering pieces for the house online, because the shipment and our arrival to Joshua Tree needed to time out perfectly. There was definitely a lot of coordinating involved!

What Friends Say: “You have a hot tub?!” hahah. But they do also comment on the attention to detail in the house. 🙂

Biggest Embarrassment: We’ve spent a lot of time working on the house itself, but haven’t been able to spend much time on the yard yet. Part of the beauty of the property is that all the plants are native, but when we bought the house there were piles of wood and random things like buckets and old ladders laying around in the back of the property. That’s all still there, but we have plans to clean it up!

Proudest DIY: We bought these great mid-century iron patio chairs. The design of them was a metal frame, and then a wrapped tubing seat that was completely fallen apart. They needed to be restrung, but all of the options seemed to be far away or very expensive. We ended up buying some tube-shaped clothesline from our local hardware store and restrung them ourselves. It took a few trial and error runs, but we were excited about how they turned out!

Biggest Indulgence: The lighting! We’ve been living in apartments for years and it’s always been a dream to own a place and choose our own lighting. It truly transforms the space. A lot of the lighting we bought was from Schoolhouse Electric, but we also found some great fixtures on Etsy!

Best Advice: Find a home that has features you’re already in love with, and use design to enhance those features!

Dream Sources: Schoolhouse Electric, Soukie Modern, West Elm, Holly’s Trading Post in Morongo Valley, Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, and the Alameda Flea Market


(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Living room: BEHR Night Blooming Jasmine
  • Living room closet doors: BEHR Peach Sachet
  • Kitchen: BEHR Peach Sachet
  • Bedrooms: BEHR Night Blooming Jasmine
  • Master bathroom: BEHR Cracked Pepper
  • Doors: BEHR Cracked Pepper
(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Hanging chairs: Etsy
  • Couch: West Elm
  • Marble coffee table: The Estate Sale Co. in Palm Springs
  • Side table: The Estate Sale Co. in Palm Springs
  • Porcelain side table: West Elm
  • Black side table: Route 62—a vintage shop in Yucca Valley
  • Brass camel: Alameda Flea Market
  • Cactus: Cactus Mart in Yucca Valley
  • Record player: Crosley
  • Lamp on shelf: Alameda Flea Market
  • Rug: eBay
  • Donkey saddle footstool: JT Trading Post in Joshua Tree
  • pillows: eBay
  • Wooden bowl with crystals: a gift
  • Records: flea markets
  • Moroccan rug: Aelfie
  • Books: Sky Village Swap Meet
  • Mirror: IKEA
  • Cow skull: Pioneer Crossing in Yucca Valley
  • Buddha head: Holly’s Trading Post in Morongo Valley
  • Painting above the mantle: Rich Combs
  • Abstract paintings: Heather Day
(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Table: West Elm
  • Chairs: Pioneer Crossing Antiques, JT Trading Post in Joshua Tree
  • Salt and pepper grinders: Menu
  • Light fixture: Pioneer Crossing Antiques in Yucca Valley
  • Bench: Holly’s Trading Post in Morongo Valley
  • Bench back cushion: DIY
  • (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


  • Enamel dishware: Urban Outfitters
  • Wooden plates: Holly’s Trading Post in Morongo Valley
  • Clock: West Elm
  • Chemex: Amazon
  • Pottery: Holly’s Trading Post
  • Light fixture: Schoolhouse Electric
  • Glassware: Amazon
  • Enamel pots: flea markets, Amazon
  • Shelving: DIY
  • (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Rug: Holly’s Trading Post
    • Bedding: Linen Shed
    • Headboard: bought from a local in Joshua Tree
    • Bed frame: West Elm
    • Patterned pillow: Guildery
    • Sheepskins: IKEA
    • Faux sheepskin pillow: Amazon
    • Side tables: HD Buttercup
    • Sconces: Etsy
    • Hammock: market in Tulum, Mexico
    • Marble table: The Estate Sale Co. in Palm Springs
    • Light fixture: Schoolhouse Electric
    • Basket: Holly’s Trading Post in Morongo Valley
    • Wall hanging: JT Trading Post in Joshua Tree
    • Curtains: West Elm
    • Curtain rods: West Elm
    • Floor lamp: West Elm
    • Cactus print: Wilder California
    • Chair: HD Buttercup
    • Tapestry: The Estate Sale Co.
    • Other artwork: flea markets
    (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Light fixture: Etsy
    • Table lamps: Alameda Flea Market
    • Headboard: DIY made with a shipping crate
    • Bedding: Urban Outfitters
    • Pillows: Guildery
    • Collected shelf items: Holly’s Trading Post, flea markets, items from outside
    • Chairs: Holly’s Trading Post
    • Moroccan table: Holly’s Trading Post
    • Mirror: STUFF in San Francisco
    • Ice bucket: Alameda Flea Market
    • Water container and glasses: IKEA
    • Blankets: vintage
    • Trash can: IKEA
    • Small rugs: IKEA
    • Moroccan rug: Aelfie
    • Cowhide: IKEA
    • Light fixture: Schoolhouse Electric
    • Toilet paper holder: Ferm Living
    • Towel rack: Amazon
    • Artwork: Alameda Flea Market
    (Image credit: Rich Combs)


    • Lighting: Etsy
    • Mirror: Sky Village Swap Meet
    • Shelf: DIY
    • Ceramics: The Granite
    • Shower curtain: Bed Bath & Beyond
    • Towel rack: Amazon
    • Toilet paper holder: Amazon
    (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Light fixture: Schoolhouse Electric
    • Toilet paper holder: Ferm Living
    • Towel rack: Amazon
    • Artwork: Alameda Flea Market
    (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Vintage map: Route 62 in Yucca Valley
    • Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric
    (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


    • Couch: West Elm
    • Side chairs: West Elm
    • Outdoor pillows: Guildery
    • Cactus: Cactus Mart in Yucca Valley
    • Light: Home Depot
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    A view of the well-appointed, airy living room (Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

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    Thanks, Sara & Rich!