Drawing inspiration from Pioneertown’s Old West architecture as a living movie set founded in 1946 by actors Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and the stark desert landscape, Jeremy Levine Design conceived a new 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home as a family getaway. Sustainable living and serene connection to nature directed Levine’s design choices—among them are using locally reclaimed weathered lumber for all interior and exterior wood, and pitching the angle of the large standing-seam metal roof to echo the long, low, sloping silhouette of the Black Hills and Sawtooth mountains that loom in the distance. Large glass windows and doors connect the homeowners visually and physically to the dramatic landscape while allowing soothing cross breezes and natural light to flood the interiors.
Much consideration was put into determining the best location and orientation for the house within the pristine landscape. The house was sited on relatively flat land to avoid grading, which would have caused undue damage to the environment. The design had three goals: capture natural breezes, frame the spectacular views so every room has one that is slightly different, and orient the house to minimize solar heat gain. Thus, placed directly in the bath of canyon breezes ,the house is cooled by the flow of wind through multiple sliding-glass doors into every room.
The aim was to build lightly on the land, especially given that the site is in a zone that receives special Resource Conservation Protection. Requirements included a biologist inspection to ensure that no desert tortoises or owls would be affected by construction. The parcel is also home to many curiously cartoony Joshua Trees, which could not be removed. In order to minimize disturbance to the desert’s delicate ecosystem, the house’s structure is designed with a zero-waste system; the light steel columns and beams were manufactured off site, then bolted together during construction in a matter of days rather than months. Thus, assembly was akin to that of a giant erector set, and dramatically reduced the overall amount of construction waste and build time. This system for the house’s exposed steel framing was also inspired by simple metal structures on local horse ranches.
The roof overhangs form a shaded wrap-around deck as big as the house for indoor/outdoor living, with areas for outdoor grilling, dining, and lounging. A stepped path leads to a hot spa and a cold cowboy tub, a nod to the Old West tradition of re-purposing galvanized livestock troughs as bathtubs. Inside, the home features polished concrete floors, clean white walls, and exposed metal ducts. Large-paned windows frame desert views and admit an abundance of daylight. The kitchen lines one wall of the open-concept great room, which is bookended by a bedroom and bathroom on each side. The main living space is kept free of walls and any other barriers to allow wind to passively ventilate the house.
At an altitude of 4,800 feet, this part of the desert experiences extreme weather conditions. Therefore, the choices of materials and details were critical to the building’s performance. Steel for the frame, unlike wood, does not expand and contract significantly as the temperature changes. The moisture content of reclaimed lumber is minimal and its durability superior to new lumber, which expands and contracts under extreme heat and cold. A clear sealant was applied to augment the wood’s weather resistance. The standing-seam metal roof features a reflective coating to withstand high winds.
Furnishings play into the Old West-meets-modern theme. In the living area is a camel leather sofa and ottoman as well as rustic wood coffee and dining tables. Outdoor furniture is made of wood with black upholstered cushions. Jeremy Levine Design conceived of the “jackrabbit” fire table that takes inspiration from local fauna and is made from leftover home-construction materials. The primary bath encapsulates the melding of sustainability, cowboyism, and modernism. Its vanity is reclaimed lumber, referencing local saloons’ distressed-wood bars and tables. An architectural sink and round-penny tile add unexpected modern details.
The Cowboy Modern Desert Eco-Retreat is just that—a place of respite for a young family and friends, where they can enjoy open views and an unpolluted night sky. Working remotely takes on new meaning here.
Material Used :
1. Facade cladding: Reclaimed Douglas Fir lumber, Reclaimed Wood Source
2. Steel house frame: Blue Sky Building Systems
3. Flooring: Concrete foundation
4. Windows, sliding doors: Milgard SunCoatMAX
5. Exterior lighting: Oxygen Ceres
6. Ceiling fan: Lamps Plus Minka Aire Simple
7. Dining table: Crate & Barrel Lakin Recycled Teak Extension Dining Table
8. Dining chairs: West Elm Rustic Dining Chair
9. Table runner: Crate & Barrel
10. Cabinetry: Ikea
11. Surfaces: Caesarstone countertop
12. Range hood: Cavaliere Convertible
13. Appliances: KitchenAid
14. Kitchen sink: Kräus Undermount Stainless Steel Single Bowl
15. Kitchen faucet: Kräus Geo Axis
16. Cabinet Hardware: Ikea Orrnäs
17. Baskets: World Market
18. Tile: Merola Hex
19. Outdoor table, chairs: Ikea Äpplarö
20. Fire table: Custom by Jeremy Levine Design
21. Patio bench: Custom by Jeremy Levine Design
22. Adirondack chairs: Ikea Klöven
23. Spa: Jacuzzi Sahara