Near Death Valley, a Vacation Rental Gets the Designer Touch


(mysterious music) – One of things that I
love about the desert is the expansiveness. And there’s views of
hills and the sunsets. And the stars here, go
all the down the horizon. – I’ve been coming to Death Valley for probably the last five years. It’s an amazing national park. It’s the largest national
park in the country. But whenever I would come, there was really nowhere to stay. (gentle guitar music) – Mikel and I started a company called X8 Property and Design. Mikel is based in L.A., I’m based in San Francisco, and we do private residential
clients in both cities. – And we like doing
short-term vacation rentals ’cause ultimately, we can
create whatever we want. We get to push ourselves to
furthest limits of creativity ’cause it’s short-term space. So it’s sort of your fantasy house. – This time, we are doing
a home in Beatty, Nevada. (upbeat music) Beatty Nevada is this
great, charming little town that is the gateway to
Death Valley National Park. Geographically, Beatty is very special. It’s at 3,300 feet, so it sits higher than the rest of the
desert floor around here, but it’s in this little bowl. There’s mountains that
circle the town of Beatty and there’s actually
a natural spring river that flows through here. – I’d been following the
real estate ads of the area, and then I saw this house. It was a three bedroom, two bath. I was thinking, maybe this
is more than we wanna tackle, but then I brought Karen out and saw it, and I was like, this is incredible. It’s sitting perched on a mountain, it’s got incredible views, the
big floor to ceiling windows, the fireplace. – It’s a rock, 360-degree
walk-around fireplace that goes all the way up
to the vaulted ceilings and it’s just stunning, but there were a lot of things that just needed updating. The kitchen had a big wall that separated it from the dining room and really closed it off, and it had a drop ceiling. And everywhere else in
the front of the house, they had these great vaulted ceilings. So I immediately knew I wanted to make it match all the
other vaulted ceilings. The bathrooms were very well loved. The house has two of them. And while they were a good size, there was a lot of built-in cabinetry with a drop ceiling. (drill whirring) But we were ready for a new,
fresh take on this house, so everything is just open it up. (curious music) – You know, you’re jumping off that cliff, grab a parachute because (laughs) you can’t stop. Once you start tearing these houses apart, you just gotta go with it and you’re gonna deal with
whatever problem comes. – The kitchen was a complete gut job. We took down the wall, we
ripped up all the flooring, and we put in tile across the whole space. – [Mikel] So we just started ripping out the ceiling in the kitchen and just kept asking our contractor, how far can we go? And we were able to go all the way up. – There were no beams there, so we just made new ones. We just took a couple pieces of wood and boxed it out, painted them black, and now, they match the beams
that were in the dining room. And there was a little, narrow high window in the dining room, we took that down, put
in full light, French, with the sidelights. – [Mikel] And now it makes the house feel so much more cohesive and open. – So pretty much, I think the only thing that made it through
was the kitchen window. That stayed, everything else changed. Now there’s a big island in the center and flows right into the dining room. Really just the whole space,
with the new tile floor, it’s got the backside of the fireplace, so that rock goes all the way
up to the vaulted ceilings. It’s open, it’s functional with the tile. It’s meant for lots of traffic, and cooking, and families, and people congregating around there. It’s one of my most favorite
spaces in the house. – We did an all new dining room with a beautiful Houzz chandelier that’s low and gorgeous and open. We completely redid the living room. It really takes advantage of the view. People work really hard, so when you’re on vacation, we want people to enjoy this space and look back on this as like, I remember the house just as
much as I do the national park. And in the bathroom, she
did these super unique custom vanities that are both pipe with a live, raw edge. Beetle wood pine tops that are incredible. Floating sinks, wall-mount faucets. I love wall-mount faucets on Houzz , so glad we finally got to do it. – This is my vision. These chairs. – Oh cool. – Look how good that looks. And then, we’re gonna angle this
one a little bit in. – So that’s what you
wanna do with the space. – Look at that. And then we’re gonna get the little coffee table, right in-between. – So Karen’s a designer, she
has a level of visualization that I’m gonna admit that
I don’t necessarily have. So when she had an idea for something, it was great to be able
to stand in the space and she could show me
where the lamps would go, she could show me where
the couches would go, so I could see her vision. ‘Cause as the person handling the budget I kind of wanted to
know what I was getting. Basically, Houzz allowed me
to have a designer’s eye, that I don’t have, right there in person. (blues music) Karen came up with a super
unique take on Death Valley which is sort of a nod to the Wild West. – The style is grandma meets cowboy. So I wanted it to be something
really cozy and comfortable, like your grandma’s house where the furniture is all plush. Almost like English country
manor cozy furniture, you know, the chenille, the velvets, the deeper jewel tones,
the pretty blush colors. I took a piece of reclaimed wood and changed out the mantel, and then I put a giant buffalo head, on even bigger mirror, over the mantel. You know, I don’t get a lot
of requests from clients for giant buffalo heads, so I really got to stretch
and do something different with this. (upbeat music) The entire dining room came
together through Houzz. The dining room table, I
wanted a large-scale table that’s still very rustic that everyone in the house
can come around to eat. I love the metal cross base. I love the wood top, it’s very rustic. It fits in with our farmhouse, kind of cowboy feel to the space. And the chairs were amazing. They’re kind of like a Windsor, but a modern take on the Windsor. They’ve got a really high
back with the spindles. I found a great buffet and it’s got some reclaimed wood on it, it’s got a little glass, it’s
got a little iron hinges. Again, it fits into this farmhousey, desert cowboy, kind of rustic feel. – [Mikel] So she really managed to combine two very different styles into a super unique property. (mellow music) – When we do a vacation home, I like to utilize what
I call defensive design. Which is, I need to make the house pretty much indestructible. So for example, we got these
fabulous, pink chenille-back, very plush, cozy-looking chairs on Houzz. The fabric is actually a
micro performance velvet, 100% polyester, that you could literally dump a cup a coffee on it and just damp cloth, it’ll come right out. Got a great jute rug. If they start to get stained or start to get too dirty, you literally just take ’em outside, you hose ’em off, you
let ’em dry in the sun and you bring ’em back in. – We chose a lot of tile
and a lot of lighter colors. You know, this is a dusty desert, we didn’t wanna do black floors even though we wanted to bring black and white as the color
scheme into this home. The butcher block counter tops, we didn’t want anything that could scratch that we couldn’t buff out. These are laminate floors. We went in and we said,
what’s the most beautiful, hardwood-looking floor that can last? Because this is the desert, you buy wood here, it’s
gonna swell, it’s gonna pop. We needed something that was going to withstand the elements of
this extreme environment. There wasn’t even a patio before. So when we fenced it in,
we created two patios with an outdoor dining area and an outdoor living area. – [Karen] And we got a picnic table-style outdoor dining table because one of the best
things about the desert is there’s no bugs here. And so in the summertime,
you can have this amazing outdoor dining experience
underneath the stars. – And then, when it came
to design the outdoor area, Karen turned to Houzz and she found a chaise lounge sectional with a coffee table. She found this awesome egg chair. It’s a fun element and you want fun things when you’re on vacation, things that maybe you
would never get to try in your normal life. And so this gives us a
chance to sort of create an incredible design that is a calling card for us. We can use it to show people
what we’re capable off. – Growing up, probably all of my friends lived in a house that
looked just like this. I lived in a house that
looked just like this. The fun thing about doing this project was we got to take a home
that you see around a lot and do something really different and stylish design-wise with it. To really take it into
a whole, new direction.

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