Kathrin & Brian’s Desert Dome Home

published Jun 9, 2014
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(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Name: Kathrin Smirke and Brian Smirke
Location: Joshua Tree, California
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: A little over 1 year (part-time)

Kathrin and Brian put an ad on Craigslist looking for a cabin in Joshua Tree. They were so surprised when they received an e-mail from someone with a geodesic dome in the desert. Before the dome was even put on the market, Kathrin and Brian were in escrow to buy it. They often say it was fate; the dome found them!

(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

As soon as they were the new owners of the dome, Kathrin and Brian, who work in Los Angeles, started spending weekends at Joshua Tree. They did all the renovations themselves, starting with eliminating the popcorn ceiling and plastering the walls (definitely check out the before photos!). Kathrin’s favorite part was the decoration. She found much of the furniture on Craigslist, and they also made some of the furnishings.

(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Kathrin and Brian had no idea that their dome would become famous. It has its own Instagram account (@domeinthedesert) with over 3k followers. Between all the friends and visitors that want to stay at the dome, they often find themselves having to try to schedule in their own time at their weekend home. Kathrin is really amazed at its popularity — “it is just a dome!”

(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We would describe our style as modern bohemian.

Inspiration: We have been greatly influenced by living in Los Angeles, especially the architectural and interior designs featured across downtown LA and the various East Side neighborhoods.

Favorite Element: Our favorite design element is the juxtaposition created between the angular and curved walls of the dome against our furniture and other decorative elements.

Biggest Challenge: Finding a way to create an intuitive interior flow when most of the walls are angled and curved.

What Friends Say: At first, I think our friends thought it was pretty crazy to buy a dome house, but now they think it’s cool.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the rickety driveway gate to enter the property. It was there when we originally bought the property and definitely needs to be replaced!

Proudest DIY: We both did a lot of DIY projects in the dome. Kathrin’s proudest DIY is the reupholstered chair in the living room. Brian’s proudest DIY is a tie between the platform bed and tree stump side table.

Biggest Indulgence: Definitely the five skylights at the peak of the dome ceiling. We needed to replace the roof when we bought the property and decided to splurge by adding the skylights — it was definitely worth it!

Best Advice: With regard to a project like this, I think the best advice received and given is to make sure things are done right, before the walls are painted and the furniture is moved in. It is a lot more difficult (and expensive) to fix things later on.

Dream Sources: Our dream source is probably Brian’s parents’ antique store, Penny Lane Trading Post in Yarnell, Arizona. We always find lots of amazing stuff there because a lot of the design elements we enjoy in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, such as Mid-Century and industrial modern, are overlooked in the small town of Yarnell, and since we are family, we never have to pay! In Los Angeles, we really enjoy the flea market at the Pasadena Rose Bowl and of course Craigslist.

(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Resources of Note:





(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

Thanks, Kathrin & Brian!

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→ Re-edited from a tour originally published in 2014