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Airbnb Design Interview: The High Desert Cabins in Joshua Tree

Airbnb Design spotlight! In this article, Emily and Vince, share a few of their hosting secrets, and how they had the vision to transform a dusty desert lot into the luxurious desert retreats they are today.

Meet Emily and Vince, the Superhosts behind the gorgeous High Desert Cabins in Joshua Tree, CA!  A pair of cozy desert retreats in the heart of town, just outside of the West entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. Their dwellings feature a modern desert vibe, promoting guest relaxation and restoration with the convenience of nearby amenities! 

Together they own a company Studio Collab, which is a design-build company combining their expertise in design and construction. I watched their Instagram account grow as they beautifully transformed their property into a modern desert oasis with duo cabins. The design details and colors are so unique that you have to check them out!

“Create something unique, something different that others don’t offer, make yourself stand out. Truly make your space one of a kind  – find a niche and use it to set yourself apart”  – Emily and Vince

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About The High Desert Cabins 

The Prickly Pear and the Ocotillo are modern, cozy cabins boasting high ceilings with an energetic, unique Airbnb design style. The kitchen is stocked with all the essentials and a few extras for you to enjoy as well. With tons of natural light and an open floor plan, this space is perfect for couples or small groups. The bathroom features a spa-like wood shower and floating vanity design. In addition to the indoor lounge space, guests can also relax under the covered outdoor patio or sit fireside by night under a billion stars. Enjoy the cabin by itself, or bring along a small group and reserve both cabins for your trip!

Interview: High Desert Cabins, Joshua Tree, CA

Firstly, tell us about yourselves!

So we’re a young couple originally from the Northeast (Philly area), and we moved out to California about 8 years ago. We met in college in our first design class- as freshmen all the architects, interiors, landscape design, and construction students are all placed in the same design classes before we split into our main focus the following year. We’re a very creative-based duo and love being crafty and thinking of ideas together. 

What was your vision when creating the Prickly Pear and Ocotillo cabins?

Our vision for the Prickly Pear and Ocotillo cabins was definitely one of a more retreat type of aesthetic and experience. We know that the desert climate can be harsh and in the early stages of conception when thinking about how we wanted our guests to enjoy the space and we knew we wanted people to leave their stay feeling refreshed and restored. That’s especially reflected in our bathroom design where our guests can leave all the harsh elements behind! We wanted to create a space that was minimal but still felt cozy and inviting.

At first, our vision was highly dependent on the type of property we ended up closing on – would it be a single-family, with a lot of land? Or maybe something smaller and close to the downtown Joshua Tree area? When we landed on this multi-family property, we knew that we had the opportunity to create multiple units (originally there was only a single-family residence on the multi-fam lot). At that point, we aligned our vision with creating a whole space that could be utilized as individual components or all together as one single property. There are 3 units on the property- all brand new, and the 3rd being our own personal home. Eventually, our ‘master plan’ for the property would be to rent all 3 units together (once we relocate) to larger groups and possibly even some small events! 

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What was your favorite part of the Airbnb design process?

Our favorite part would have to be the design development phase. The conceptual part of this project was on the more restrictive side through San Bernardino County, so the architecture was really derivative of the site’s requirements. Once we had established our concept and parameters, the development phase allowed us to start detailing our ideas into a reality of how things would actually come together and be constructed! This was the part where the vision really came to life and the guest experience was fully developed.

 Airbnb Design

How did you gather inspiration and narrow down your Airbnb design choices?

We gathered a lot of inspiration from various online sources and other case studies of houses or styles that we generally liked. We found specific elements that we liked, for example with the bathrooms we found cool applications of wood-clad showers, the use of concrete and skylights, and we took those elements and reimagined them in a different way that could apply to our space.

Also, we had to be mindful of certain design elements that we could achieve ourselves, after all, we’re the ones that had to actually make all of these elaborate ideas! So in some ways we were kind of limited to the use of certain materials and tools in order to execute the designs we had worked out.

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I love those amazing, high ceiling accent walls in desert tones! Were they easy to create?

Those accent walls have been such a hit! They were pretty easy to create… we decided on a general pattern and layout, I drafted it so that we could space everything out exactly, and then we were really organized about how we cut all the pieces. Once everything was cut and ready to install we just took our time lining things up and spacing them out but it was super easy to execute- just a bit tedious! After that, it was just a little bit of prep work, some caulking, and a ton of paint!

What extra amenities or Airbnb design touches do you provide that guests have appreciated the most?

The bathrooms have been a real crowd-pleaser, we probably get the most compliments on that part of the space. People really enjoy the spa-like feeling that the wood bathrooms have and it’s a really unique space that we think people enjoy as well. A few custom wood elements, the natural slate tile, and the shower skylight all create this really tranquil space to immerse. The second most appreciated design touch would be the loungey floating bed platform. The accent lighting below the platform is a really nice touch that people enjoy having.



What does your ideal weekend spent in Joshua Tree look like? 

Food, drinks, views, and sunsets! We love to dine out and socialize with the local community – some of our favorites include the JT Saloon, Kitchen in the Desert, Pioneertown (either Pappy’s or Red Dog – or both 😉). We’re also outdoor enthusiasts so naturally, we gravitate to the National Park a lot to go on hikes or just find a good spot to catch a sunset! There’s also usually a lot of pop-up events around town, like art shows and exhibits, or markets… so we love to take advantage of those when they’re happening.

Where are your favorite spots for guests to relax at the High-Desert Cabins? 

We love to relax in the intimate reading corner inside the cabin. The lounge chair is really comfortable you could practically melt into it, and it’s the perfect spot to curl up with a book and a coffee or just hang out in the afternoon. Also, we like to spend time below the shaded patio space. It’s great when the hot desert sun is too much to handle and the string lights make the best nighttime drink spot!

What advice can you give to new hosts looking to build their own cabins on their property?

Construction of any kind is definitely a huge undertaking. We definitely recommend making sure you are well-read on the process before diving in headfirst. We had the advantage of knowing the process pretty well before we made our investment, something that a lot of people don’t have as new hosts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your research first (or hire the right people). In addition to that, we would advise that people align themselves with quality contractors, designers, and/or project managers. When you set yourself up with people who will give you good guidance throughout the process it will help make the whole experience and outcome that much better! We’d also highly recommend that you know your own limits.

Any advice for new Airbnb hosts just starting out with their vision?

We recommend really thinking about your space and what you have or want to offer. Create something unique, something different that others don’t offer, make yourself stand out. Truly make your space one of a kind – whether it’s the design, the vibe, amenities, a cool hangout, extra services… anything really – find a niche and use it to set yourself apart. Also, manage your own expectations. I think one thing we’ve experienced about people wanting to start their own investment or Airbnb is that they have incredibly high expectations versus the reality of what good design and construction costs, as well as the overall timeline of a project. Be realistic with yourself and your goals and you’ll enjoy the process and outcome a whole lot more!

Thank you Emily and Vince for sharing your Airbnb design vision with us! 

P.S As well as blogging and hosting my own properties, I also work as an Airbnb Ambassador! This means that Airbnb Pays me to help new hosts through the start-up process of your hosting journey! It’s free for you! From your story and decor to setting up a listing and welcoming your first guests. I am your 24/7 mentor, to support you and answer all of your questions! Once your listing is ready to go live, I’ll take a look at it and give you my personalized feedback! 

Here’s my invitation link to learn more!
































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