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pacific coast california

Desert Decor: Creating a holiday home, in your actual home.

RACHAEL ADAMSComment
The Joshua Tree Cabin

The Joshua Tree Cabin

Some people dream of living by the sea, some people long to see nothing but miles and miles of rolling hills from their kitchen window and some people like to see and hear life on their door step. I’m more like the later but when it comes to getting away from it all, the sun-drenched desert landscape and the enormity of jagged, Jenga style mountains adorned with exotic plants and flowers that exist in complete stillness and peace, is my favourite escape haven. 

My husband Alex and I have been fortunate enough to travel around California a handful of times, visiting the Mecca of Modernism Palm Springs, hippie-hideouts in Topanga Canyon and hilltop ranches in sporadic small towns residing on the edge of gigantic national parks. In fact we love it so much we’re heading back in January to explore the infamous Death Valley that boarders California and Nevada and heading south to the equally infamous Joshua Tree ! We always come away so inspired from this truly special part of the world, we’ve decided to welcome a little bit of desert inspired decor into our own home, starting with a new renovation project in our living room. 

What I really like about the desert look is that it is the perfect bridge between more feminine bohemian styles, mid-century modern and jungle decor. I like the effortless, lived-in environment that desert inspired homes radiate and below I’m going to be talking through how we plan to introduce these design elements into our lounge and how you might take inspiration to do so into your own homes.

Colour

Many desert homes are painted predominately white, probably due to the large open spaces and windows. In contrast, we are planning to use a bright, light-reflecting off white for one wall and are the painting the remaining 3 walls in warm, light terracotta with a chalky finish such as Book Room Red or Red Earth both by by Farrow & Ball.

On the whole a neutral colour palette of nudes, beige, off-white, cream, coffee, terracotta, caramel can be made interesting and exciting through the use of texture, levels and arrangement. 

Wood 

Wood is perhaps the strongest design aspect of the desert decor trend. Be it entire wooden rooms seen in cladded cabins or incorporating various types of wood in one space such as fixtures and fittings like cupboards and built in shelves, mid-century furniture and reclaimed flooring.  

Our existing floor is a dark walnut parquet was only laid 18 months ago and now is finally showing some lovely worn-in marks and grooves, perfectly in-keeping with laid back desert decor.

Texture 

Traditional Native blankets are a popular decorative features in many desert homes, such as Pendelton. They look stylish draped over sofas or rolled and displayed in baskets. However they can also be displayed walls by sewing loop holes to each corner and using large, industrial pins or clips to attach. For a softer look try a large piece of fabric art like the botanical scarf featured below.

Introducing handwoven wall art crafted from yarns and wool or embroidered tapestry is another good option to create texture. 

We’re planning on creating a curiosity wall that features personal souvenirs from our travels to the dessert like postcards and photographs that will sit alongside vintage wall baskets similar to the ones below. 

Furniture 

Wicker, bamboo, rattan, driftwood and birch ply as are common furniture choices within desert homes. They work well together as they are usually quite light in colour and tone. I personally like the idea of introducing a tiki vibe to a desert inspired space by displaying a 70’s rattan bar cart with vintage glassware and beautifully branded liquor bottles on show. 

Bamboo basket lighting displayed as a statement centre room feature or various shaped and sized grouped together and arranged at different heights looks really striking. 

We are in the middle of sourcing a vintage sofa with an exposed wooden frame, preferably with a super soft buttery yellow leather seat and cushions to help with our ever-hair-shedding pets ! Below are some beautiful exposed frame sofas, the velvet rust is my absolute dream sofa in an ideal world !

Spirituality 

Most people assume that California lifestyle as being largely associated with glitz and glamour and whilst this is true, another big lifestyle influence is Bohemia, nature and spirituality. In addition to using native patterns within rugs, cushions and tapestry, moon-phases crafted from glass are an interesting alternative piece of wall art for your desert inspired room. Objects like crystals, minerals and fossils as well as mood creators like smudge sticks and incense burners also add nicely to the spiritual detail. 

Ceramics 

Add finer desert detail with handmade pottery such as vases, votives and pots in various shapes and textures. Look out for large bulb-bottom ceramics or large urns that look great displayed on the floor next to huge house plants.  Another nice idea is to source pottery that is inspired by the landscape. We picked up some incredible handcrafted bowls and mugs by Santa Cruz potter Coco Chipsa, who’s work is inspired by Calforina’s moutnains, oceans and deserts.

Tiles 

Tiles are a really good way of bringing some colour into a neutral space. If you’re going for more of an Americana influenced look, vintage tin tiles work really well as splash backs in a kitchen or if you’re feeling really experimental as a tinned ceiling ! 

In our living room we are hoping to use ceramic diagonal colour block tiles (similar to the ones below) in either burnt orange and white or mustard and white to tile half way our main white feature wall, where our long-standing teak sideboard will sit in front with large house plants arranged either side. 

Plants 

Bringing the outside is a key design element to creating a desert inspired room. Dry-heat, vibrant green plants such as various cacti, snake (mother-in-laws tongue), donkey tails and air plants look great grouped together or displayed singularly as one large statement feature plant. Dried flowers pressed into frames or hung upside-down, will work well as part of a shelving display or curiosity wall if you’re looking to shape a more bohemian look. 

All images in this blog post are not owned by Object Style and have been linked back to the source. Click on the image for the original source reference.

To see more Decor Decor inspiration follow my desert board on Pinterest.

Look out for our NEW desert design range coming soon to our store.

Up next on our blog: American Road Trip: Exploring Californian Surf Towns + LA

Part 4 - American Roadtrip, exploring Monterey + Carmel

RACHAEL ADAMSComment

I sort of feel our official American adventure started once we got ourselves a set of wheels, left San Francisco behind and headed for the infamous Highway One (check out my previous blog HERE for advice about renting cars in the States). Now, I’m not the best passenger on motorways and certainly not on motorways that have 6 lanes of traffic but as soon as we’d passed San Jose most of the traffic had cleared and it was just us and the open road. 

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Our first stop was Seaside, a small town just outside of Monterey. We rented a kitsch ‘an artist’s cottage’ via Air Bnb and our host Murray gave a really welcoming and friendly service. He lives in his studio next door which has an amazing view of the Pacific Coast, which he paints daily ! His incredible landscape art is displayed all over the house and also in some of the local galleries in Carmel. 

It’s worth noting that Air BnB is actually banned in Monterary and Carmel which is why we chose to stay in Seaside. Hotels and guesthouses in those areas are very expensive and we personally found them a bit formal and stuffy. Another handy tip was that it was free to park our car at Murray’s home. 

On our first evening we ventured in Monterey which is about a 15 minute drive from Seaside. I’m going to be completely honest and say we were disappointed for the first time on our trip with lack of good quality restaurants and amenities. After watching episode of Rick Stein’s Road To Mexico, we took on board his recommendation and booked The Sardine Factory, the oldest and supposedly most well-regarded restaurant in Monterey. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually end up eating there as we felt the location and aesthetic didn’t warrant the price. 

Monterey by the day was definitely more appealing. This was our first taste of coastal California, which is nothing like any other coast I’ve ever seen before. We spent the morning watching surfers at Lovers Point Park, a stunning cliff edge at Pacific Grove, sitting peacefully drinking coffee and eating croissants in gorgeous mid-twenty degree heat (in January!). 

lovers point park california .jpg
lovers point park california 1.jpg

After a short walk on the beach, we headed to Monterey’s most famous attraction, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and spent a good few hours discovering what weird and wonderful things live in our oceans. This ended up being one of our best highlights from the whole trip, there are so many unique and unusual sea creatures to learn about and who knew that starting at fish for hours could be so therapeutic ? 

Next we headed to Carmel and chose to take the longer 17 mile scenic drive which costs around $10. Driving through huge pined woodlands, you’ll see modernist architectural houses nestled amongst the trees but the best view is when you get your first glimpse of the white sands and turquoise waves as you head down towards the seafront. There are designated points of interest where you can pull over and take photographs of the breath-taking peninsula. We had one part of the coast completely to ourselves, so just sat alongside washed up driftwood and took it all in, both us thinking I never knew America could look like this. Further along you’ll see very impressive houses of the Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach residents. Well, I say houses but these structures are more like chateaus and mansions, each one appearing more lavish and elaborate than it’s neighbour. 

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Eventually we pulled into Carmel, an incredibly pretty little seaside town which looks like it belongs in an Enid Blyton book. Shops, bars and cafes are housed in fairytale cottages with wooden swing-signs detailing their business name hand-drawn in calligraphy. Residents lawns look like they have been trimmed to absolute perfection (I can only imagine with nail scissors) and you will be fined by the mayor for wearing heels on the preserved cobbled streets. Over all, as sweet looking as Carmel was, we weren’t overly keen on the overall vibe, it felt very touristy, too polished and a little snooty for our taste. 

carmel by the sea

That evening, following a recommendation from our Air BnB host we drove out to what felt like the middle of nowhere to his favourite Mexican, Baja Catina located in Carmel Valley. The restaurant occupies an old gasoline garage which still has the original pumps outside ! Inside, there isn’t an inch of wall that isn’t covered in sporting memorabilia that the owner has been collecting since Baja Catina opened 40 years ago. Just like Murray said the food was authentic and really delicious, as you might have guessed everything is supersize (even the Margaritas) so it’s definitely worth sharing some plates. 

When we started planning and marking out our route from San Francisco to Los Angeles, our research encouraged us to spend some time in Monterey and Carmel. I am glad we got to see both of these places but because they are so small, the two can definitely be explored in the same day with maybe an overnight stay. Personally, it was the first time on our trip that we became a bit twiddly-fingered and felt many of places in each town were over-priced and touristy. In hindsight, I wish we would have spent one of our two nights in the Big Sur and embarked on more amazing nature hikes but that’s just our opinion.

Up Next: Part 4 - The Big Sur