• About a Space: Sara and Rich Combs' Joshua Tree Bungalow

    Experience Joshua Tree like a local through the lens of creative duo Sara and Rich, whose magical bungalow is the desert escape of our dreams.

    Can you tell us a bit more about yourselves — where you’re from, what you do, and how you ended up living in Joshua Tree?
    We met in high school, and starting dating soon afterwards. We both grew up in Connecticut, surrounded by lush greenery and then moved six hours south together for Art school at Maryland Institute College of Art. After graduating, we both felt a pull toward California. Neither of us had been there before, but somehow knew it was a place we wanted to be. We drove across the country, and first stepped foot into San Francisco right in front of our soon-to-be apartment building. 

    Almost six years and a few jobs later, we both left our full-time gigs to pursue freelance design careers. Though freelancing meant we were always working, we had a more flexible schedule which allowed us to travel across the country, live in Brooklyn for a summer, travel Southeast Asia, and most importantly, visit Joshua Tree for the first time. We stayed at an Airbnb for one night in Joshua Tree during our cross-country road trip, and immediately fell in love. We started obsessively looking at real estate sites and sent many many links back and forth. When we returned to SF after traveling, the first thing on our minds was to go down to JT and tour some of these homes in person. We found and fell in love with a home for sale on Craigslist! A month later it was ours, and the rest is history.

    Can you share more about your space? 
    It’s a 1949 hacienda with a ton of character. We spent almost half the year last year renovating it, doing a ton of painting, some electrical work, and interior design. We now rent the house as a full-time Airbnb, so earlier this year we closed on another property in JT with two homes on it. We’re currently renovating one house while we live in the other. The house we’re working on now needed more work, so we’ve completely gutted the bathroom and kitchen. We’re learning a ton on this one!

    Will you walk us through a typical day in the life?
    We’re so excited about all of the projects we’re working on here, so we wake up somewhere between 6 and 7am ready to go. There’s no particular order to what we do, but generally we make some coffee or tea, catch up on emails, check in with the contractors we have helping us on the Casita renovations, do some design work for our clients—whether it be web design, photography, or illustration work, message with current and potential Airbnb guests, plan ideas for our houses… whew, I could go on and on! We also get a lot of visitors, so sprinkle that in with hikes in JT National park and dinners out with friends. 

    What are your favorite parts about living in JT?
    Seeing the sun all day long is a big one for us. The horizon is so expansive here you can see the sun rise and set. It’s such a simple thing but it gives each day a clear beginning and end. Not to mention once the sun sets the sky is littered with stars; it takes our breath away every single time. Also, there’s an incredibly creative community here in JT. We find ourselves not only inspired by the alien landscape, but all of the awesome people here doing what they love and killing it. No one we know here has a ‘regular’ job, and that gets us excited.  

    What are some challenging aspects about where you live?
    We’re learning about all kinds of things we never knew about before! For example, coming from the East coast, we had never heard of swamp coolers. They’re perfect for cheaply cooling your house, but as soon as it gets a little bit humid they stop working quite as well. So sometimes staying cool can be a challenge! We also end up having a lot of conversations with neighbors about roads that have not been maintained, or the occasional rattlesnake wandering by. But we appreciate all of these experiences...they’re just part of living in the desert.

    Can you share a few favorite local/area spots?
    We love heading into the park to Indian Cove for car picnics. Whenever we have guests in town, we always make sure to bring them there. It’s a magical experience! We also love the Hidden Valley trail, and the Cholla Garden (especially at sunset). As for places to eat, our favorites are la Copine for brunch, and Pappy & Harriet’s for dinner or a show (or both!) There are also a ton of great vintage shops around: A few favorites are Holly’s Trading Post, Route 62, The End, and Pioneer Crossing.

    What’s something we don’t know about life in the desert?
    We were surprised how bright the full moon is when you’re used to pitch black nights. The first couple of full moons actually kept us up since it almost seemed like someone was shining a light into our house! Another thing is the amount of the life that’s here. When people think desert, it’s usually associated with a barren landscape and lack of life. But every single day, we see doves, hummingbirds, rabbits, lizards, antelope squirrels, quail, and even an occasional coyote, desert tortoise, snake, scorpion, or roadrunner! We haven’t seen a bobcat yet, but they’re here too.

    What’s next for both of you?
    We’re really loving designing experiences for our guests, and are becoming more and more fascinated with the hospitality industry. We also plan to continue our freelance design careers with more web design, photography, and illustration work. We have no plans of leaving the desert anytime soon!  

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