A Small Rustic Modern Joshua Tree Cabin Is FULL of DIY Project Inspiration and Ideas

updated Mar 10, 2020
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Name: John and Ashley Wagner
Location: Joshua Tree, California
Size: 780 square feet
Type of home: Homesteader cabin
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

When John and Ashley Wagner bought this small cabin in Joshua Tree in 2016, it had sat empty for 10 years, and needed a lot of work. Unfortunately, they had spent all of their money on a down payment, so they had to do a lot of the work themselves. From DIYing light fixtures, to installing doors, to tiling, the entire renovation took eight months, and the home (which they Airbnb when they’re not enjoying it themselves) is so beloved by the couple they gave it a name: The Moon Cabin, named because there was a full moon the first night they stayed in the cabin.

“The inspiration is outer space,” explains John. “We wanted it to be kind of futuristic, kind of rustic, and just otherworldly, like Joshua Tree.” Their stylistic goal was a rustic modern vibe that also looked lived in, and look achieved by a mix of found and thrifted furniture (the cool dining chairs are from a favorite store, Sunbeam Vintage), plus lots of weather wood accents. They did splurge on one pretty big item, the cozy sectional sofa (which is also a pull-out for guests).

And they also invested in handmade items from artisans they admire, like the farm-style dining table that was crafted by a Los Angeles carpenter using reclaimed material from bungalows in Echo Park.

John and Ashley had to get creative not just because of a small budget, but also because the place is just small. They replaced swing doors for a pocket door in the small bathroom to help maximize space, as well as use items like cool vintage suitcases for storing items like cleaning supplies, extra coffee, and more.

The entire cabin was a labor of love, but one that came out beautifully for the DIYing couple. And while they enjoy all the spoils of their hard work inside, no one can blame them that their home’s favorite spot is actually outside: drinking glasses of wine in the rocking chairs watching the sunset.

Describe your home’s decor style in 5 words: Rustic Modern California desert cabin.

What’s your favorite thing about your home?: The front porch rocking chairs.

What’s your least favorite thing about your home?: The hot water heater is too far away from the house.

What’s your best small space trick?: Multipurpose furniture and open shelving.