Photo: Jessica Bodas

As interior designer Natalie Myers puts it, there’s “a bit of land grab” going on in Yucca Mesa, California. This time around, the rush to claim property isn’t driven by gold prospecting, but affordable real estate within proximity of Los Angeles. 

Myers, the Owner and Design Principal of Veneer Designs, set out to purchase a desert vacation home for her family of four that could also function as an Airbnb rental for design lovers. “We really wanted a hunting cabin, even though it sounds strange,” explains Myers. “There was a scattering of hunting cabins built in the High Desert during the 50s and 60s, and a lot of them still have the acreage. I think we sort of romanticized the idea of that.” 

Photo: Jessica Bodas

After touring a few builder-basic tract homes, Myers and her husband came upon a 700-square-foot hunting cabin near Joshua Tree National Park that had been recently flipped by an inexperienced handyman. “It was shockingly bad,” recalls Myers. “But at the same time, the structure, location and size were what we were looking for.”

Design News Alerts

Get the latest Interior Design tips and trends from Livabl sent to your inbox

Photos courtesy of Natalie Myers

Part of the ceiling was clad in corrugated metal, while the other half was painted a citrusy orange color. Cheap laminate covered the floors and exterior paneling had been used to create a shiplap effect in one of the bedrooms. “As a designer, in my gut, I don’t want to reward someone for flipping a house badly,” says Myers. “It was like he went to Home Depot and pulled all the cheapest things off the shelf!”

Myers’ contractor, Wes Rush, was tasked with repairing all the cut corners, which included replacing rusted-out pipes, replumbing the septic tank, patching a leaky roof and straightening walls. While the renovation took nearly six months months to complete, the cabin (now referred to as The Veneer Retreat) is a marvel of desert design.

Photo: Ace Misiunas

In the kitchen, Myers conceived of a showstopping combination of Concrete Collaborative terrazzo slab and Aimee LaCalle Paseo tile. “Pattern play is super fun as long as you don’t go crazy with too many colors,” says Myers. The upper cabinets were ripped out and a Zephyr range hood was added where there previously had been none. “I was like, ‘Is that legal?’ I really don’t know how that happened,” laughs Myers. 

Photo: Ace Misiunas

The flipper had hastily built a granite-topped kitchen island that Myers swapped for an elongated dining table with seating for seven. “Because there are vaulted ceilings in the house, I thought we needed an oversized Japanese pendant, similar to a Noguchi light sculpture,” says Myers. Fearing a paper light fixture would be too delicate for a rental home, Myers went with the origami-inspired Orikata pendant from Room & Board, crafted from laser-cut linen.

Photo: Jessica Bodas

The adjacent living room is anchored by a pot belly stove that’s original to the cabin. To visually warm up the space, Myers brought in mixed wood tones and a buttery leather sofa that will improve with age. “The colors I used, like the browns, the tans and the oranges, are very appropriate for the desert,” adds Myers.

Photo: Jessica Bodas

The sculptural coffee table was a Craigslist find, sourced from a couple of recent college grads who were moving out of their apartment. “I took it home and when I looked underneath it was a Lane table!” says Myers. “It’s a one-of-a-kind mid-century piece.”

Photo: Ace Misiunas

There are two guest bedrooms, each with a relatively small footprint, which meant Myers had to be selective with furniture. She chose a Floyd platform bed that comes with additional panels so it can easily transform into a twin, king or queen bed. Genius, right? “It’s a bed that grows with you and it’s not going to get chucked into a landfill because you no longer need it,” says Myers. 

Photo: Ace Misiunas

For a dash of whimsy, Myers added the cactus hamper from Pottery Barn Kids, which she uses to store extra blankets. And to liven up the stark white walls, she hung nature-themed artwork by some of her LA maker friends. “It makes me happy to surround myself with things that other creatives I respect have made — it’s inspiring.” 

Photo: Ace Misiunas

The second bedroom features a cowhide rug layered over a vintage patchwork hemp rug and space-saving stools that serve as nightstands. The charcoal-stained Anton bed is actually part of a set (it pairs with the clean-lined dresser seen above), but Myers divided them into separate rooms to avoid a matchy-matchy look.

Photo: Ace Misiunas

The cabin’s only bathroom proved to be the biggest obstacle of all. “We had to reconfigure the plumbing layout,” says Myers. “The toilet was just like off to one side and there was a teeny-tiny shower.” She piled on texture, exposing and polishing the concrete floor, even with its many patches. “I think it’s really cool! I want to see the history of what’s happened to the house,” she notes.

Photo: Ace Misiunas

The tile on the shower walls is a glazed brick by Ann Sacks, intended to mimic the brick on the fireplace surround. On the floor, she opted for an arrowhead-style mosaic by the same manufacturer. “We used the remnant of the kitchen counter to build a vanity, and then added white Caesarstone on the sides,” says Myers of her custom creation. To complete the space, she brought in an oval mirror and minimalist, matte black plumbing fixtures by Delta.

Photo: Jessica Bodas

Minor updates were made to the exterior of the cabin. The grey trim was repainted with November Rain by Benjamin Moore, a “beige-y, sandy color,” according to Myers. A few more cacti were planted in the drought-tolerant garden and a pair of Scandi-style chairs were set out to create a welcoming vibe.

Photo: Jessica Bodas

“We wanted a low-maintenance outdoor area,” explains Myers, who splits her time between Los Angeles and the desert. A large wood deck was added off the back of the cabin, which Myers furnished with a dining table, fire pit, lounge chairs and a low-profile modular sofa covered in Sunbrella fabric. “You can reconfigure it according to what you want the setup to be,” says Myers. “And it’s really nice to sit in.”

Photo: Jessica Bodas

Myers went into this project with the intention of designing a vacation rental that felt different from everything else out there. “I wasn’t after the Pioneertown cowboy look,” laughs Myers. She drew inspiration from design-forward hotels, focusing on solid furniture, quality bed linens and locally made art.

Photo: Jessica Bodas

“I want our guests to feel special and think, ‘Oh, somebody put a lot of thought and care into choosing everything I see in front of me.’ The Veneer Retreat is definitely for design lovers,” says Myers.

Developments featured in this article

More Like This

Facebook Chatter