There's something truly magical about the desert. You feel it when you're there. It's a very distinct spiritual energy that's unlike anywhere else and it attracts us like moths to a flame. It's one of the reasons Melissa Young, founder and principal designer of My Studio ID, bought her 5000-square-foot hacienda, and she's never looked back. The casual yet sophisticated bohemian abode is located in Borrego Springs, California, at the foothills of the Anza-Borrego State Park.
The home was originally built in 1992 for Dennis Avery (heir to the Avery label company) by architect Richard Grenfell from New Mexico. Young spent $350,000 on various soft renovations and minor updates that included switching out all the lighting and ceiling fans, sandblasting all of the 42 interiors doors to the original roughhewn wood doors, changing all bathroom hardware, restoring the entry gates to the original metal, installing an outdoor kitchen, and landscaping the property.
The end result is a striking Santa Fe, New Mexico, hacienda-style adobe that feels true to the architecture yet infused with modernity. Maintaining the history of the home was also important for Young. The brick floors were laid using an old-school artistic style that involved using sand instead of grout, yet the furniture and décor feel more contemporary in nature. It's the blend of both worlds that truly makes this home a special space.
Read on to hear more of Young's design process and how she turned this stunning property into a desert oasis.
Exposed beams are just one striking feature we love about this living room. The sunken room style with built-in seating and an original kiva fireplace are closely tied. Young tells me that the built-in seating was a challenge to work around, and it had "extremely uncomfortable original cushions," which she quickly replaced with Restoration Hardware down cushions.
The room has a beautiful, large window with doors that completely open up to overlook the stunning desert while giving an open indoor/outdoor feel. "We wanted the view to be the centerpiece and first visual of the room, so we kept the design in this room pretty simple," explains Young. "We also added creative seating elements to make this a space to encourage our friends and family to relax, engage in good conversation, and enjoy the view."
Young was really focused on honoring the original soul of the house to make it a truly special and comfortable place to spend time with family and friends. "I wanted to create a space away to retreat to from the grind of the city," she says.
While the architecture is tied to the history of the space, the soft furnishing and decorative elements add a modern mood. The side table and lamp seen here are both from West Elm; the sofa is from Restoration Hardware.
Just like the desert outside, the home features various layered tones of neutrals and sand-colored hues in varying textures and materials for visual interest.
Organic shapes and abstract art help to give the home a lived-in feel.
Young says her client work has given her the opportunity to work with a lot of color, but when it comes to her personal space she prefers natural tone on tone with textures and calming neutral colors. "It provides a nice contrast from my typical palate in the studio," she adds.
The biggest challenge of this project was the sheer size of the house. Coming from an urban, contemporary condo to almost 6000 square feet on a spacious property was a great challenge, but as you can see, Young was ready to take it head-on.
To ensure the architecture and design stand out, Young kept the furniture and décor fairly minimal, styling with pieces she really loved and adding value to the space.
Natural materials bring a sense of warmth and homeliness to each room.
The dining room was formally used as a library by the former owner, so it had already been designed for special gatherings.
The French doors open up to an outdoor dining terrace, mixing contemporary with rustic styles.
The master bedroom is another sunken room with great natural light. The home office is attached to the room, with a larger walk-in closet also included.
The beautiful original kiva fireplace was restored and now takes center stage. Who wouldn't want to sleep to the sound of a crackling fire?
The poster bed adds a modern touch to the hacienda-style of the architecture, and the timber brings warm, cozy vibes.
Located right next to the walk-in closet of the master bedroom, the home office is within walking distance when Young needs to work from home.
This is the living room in the Casita is also the first space Young slept in when buying the house. "This space has its own entrance away from the main house," she says. "We wanted it to feel welcoming and comfortable since we knew it would house many of our guests."
The outdoor area shines just as much as the interior. The Santa Fe style can be seen here in color and aesthetics.
Young uses the teepee for morning meditation, or as a fun place to gather with friends after dinner for drinks, conversation, and to play music. "This space allowed me to be super playful with the design using lots of texture, layering of rugs, and elements that encourage floor seating and comfort," she says. The teepee also happens to be her greatest find along with her Moroccan rugs, special wood carvings, bull skull, and other pieces she found on her travels. "They remind me of fond memories and tell a story," Young adds.
It hard for Young to pinpoint her favorite thing about the space, but upon reflection, she says it's the solitude and peacefulness of living in the real desert (the anti–Palm Springs). "When you're driving out to the house and just get over the mountains, the city immediately falls behind you," she explains. "We've created a sacred place that allows us to regroup, gain a sense of calm, and recalibrate. Also, I'm super grateful to be able to have the space to entertain family and friends."
This would be a super-fun space to dine with friends under the stars.
The whole property is serene, peaceful, and can comfortably welcome a large crowd. Young says guests can take up their own space or choose to come together and commune because the property is so large. "Our weekends are often spent with friends and family here, with long days lounging by the pool and exploring the 700,000 acres on our buggy followed by watching the incredible desert sunsets, dinner under the stars, and closes with great wine and conversations in the teepee," she tells me. "Borrego is one of the four officially designated International Dark Sky locations in the California desert."
Everywhere you turn, there's a stylish moment. Young really paid attention to the details.
And a desert house wouldn't be complete without an outdoor shower. Taking a shower with nothing but the mountains in full view is what dreams are made of.
The entertaining continues from the patio to the pool. This is where we want to be all day, every day.
It's a striking view from the pool.
Whichever vantage point you're standing from, there is a stunning view to match.
And the surrounding cactus gardens are beautiful too.