Located in Yucca Valley, CA, this high-desert home was built in 1962, but h ad gone through many iterations and add-ons when it changed owners in 1984 and again in 2000. “The front of the house was Santa Fe style and then the back was very mid-century, which, in turn, created disjointed styles on the interior,” says interior designer Rae Rockwell. Her clients had relocated from New York City to L.A. during the pandemic and acquired the home as a getaway from the city—a desert oasis to gather and entertain friends. “It was important to them that all of the common areas encouraged socializing and spending time together. So, there are many cozy spots for gathering, whether around the fireplace, at the dining table, or while cooking in the kitchen,” the designer explains.

The 2.5-acre property is surrounded by cacti, agave, cholla, creosote, junipers, and ocotillos, all inspiring Rae’s color palette: sage green from cholla, dusty sands from the desert ground, and a pop of deep burgundy/purples from the paddle cacti. The result is a modern, eclectic, and organic home. “I pulled a lot of vintage pieces into the mix with modern pieces while creating a warm, earthy environment,” she says.

Along with architectural team Blu Haus Design Studio and Caldwell Construction, Rae was involved from the start—taking everything down to the studs and overseeing every arch, piece of tile, and accessory that ultimately styled the completed space. However, it wasn’t the easiest process and took roughly two and a half years. “This was one of those projects that unfortunately every wall that was opened had an issue,” Rae recalls. “I felt bad for the contractor every time he had to make those phone calls!” 

Rae admits delays can have silver linings. “Although it’s frustrating that projects can be drawn out, I took advantage of it as I was able to source items anytime I traveled and went antique shopping—from Los Angeles, San Diego, all over Arizona, Las Vegas, Vermont, Maine, upstate New York, the Midwest, and even Paris! I was constantly on the hunt for unique vintage and small artisans to incorporate into this project.”

The clients were clear on all renovations and approved all furniture, but the designer still ensured a bit of a surprise at the project’s conclusion. “I styled and produced the photo shoot of the space and was sending them sneak peeks throughout the shoot,” she recalls. “They were so excited that they started sending them to their friends and family and sending me all of the replies of amazement.” Their first visit was during a holiday weekend, and they invited Rae and her fiancé over for celebratory drinks. “It was such a special experience to see how others enjoy and move about the space—the fire going, the areas they gravitate to, the pillows they pull from the bedrooms to the living room because they love it so much, how they take over the kitchen with their groceries, and how they host in their home. I’ll always treasure that evening of warmth and laughter in a space that I designed.”

See more details on the renovation in the slideshow.