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With its low-slung ranch homes, acres of uninterrupted landscapes, and peaceful way of life, it’s no surprise people are drawn to Joshua Tree. Registered dietitian Jessica Jones first experienced the magic of the national park during a friend’s bachelorette getaway, recalling that “there’s nowhere on Earth like it,” however, there was something amiss. “We were a group of Black girls and at the time we stood out,” she says. 

While Joshua Tree boasts an array of Airbnb’s, it does little for inclusion. “If you go through listings in Joshua Tree, there are lifestyle photos without people of color,” she says. “Why is that? Is it marketing? Are we welcome? It’s always rubbed me the wrong way.” So, Jones set off to build her own paradise, one where inclusion is a priority. 

Finding Her Way

While Jones isn’t an architect, she’s always had a passion for the subject. One of her favorite pastimes is visiting open houses, something she even does while on vacation. When it came to finding her own place in Joshua Tree, she knew she wanted to do something different that told a story. “I wanted to go outside the box of typical desert decor,” she adds. Thus, she began looking at lots and preparing to build from scratch

A Learning Process

“Everything was a challenge and I wanted to quit every other day,” she says. “But, I made a pact with myself not to.” She began watching YouTube videos from Robuilt, a channel for those interested in building, DIYs, tiny homes, and Airbnb, and later met for a consultation. Before then, she had never considered building. 

Jones then called the county. “Fifty percent of the process was calling, calling contractors, people for prep work, and research,” she says. She even called neighbors to ask if properties get flooding or excessive noise, and also discovered an ordinance that doens’t allow construction within 50 feet of  Yucca brevifolia, trees that are up for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. With all in mind, she put five offers on different lots before closing on a five-acre lot on Christmas Eve of 2020. 

Unexpected Decor

Instead of leaning into a particular style, Jones led with how she wanted the home to feel. “I want it to feel warm and inspired with some color but not like you’d go in and have an anxiety attack.” The goal was calm yet not too minimalist with a palette of rust, white, black, olive green, and wood, plus a pop of pink in the bathroom courtesy of Fireclay tile. In the small dining area, she chose sleek, modern pieces from Interior Define. Beds are from Article, while art throughout the home was sourced from Society 6.

Go Open-Concept

To maximize space, Jones kept the layout as open as possible. She partnered with Semihandmade for cabinetry in the kitchen, initially deciding on the SSS Agave Beaded fronts but ended up going with the Supermatte White Slab. “I had the lowers in Agave but the way the light hit the cabinets, they looked baby blue. Semihandmade was really nice about letting me swap to the white and it looks so much better,” she says. The kitchen opens right in the living and dining areas, while the bedrooms are more private. 

Be Flexible

One of the biggest lessons Jones has learned has a first-time homebuilder was flexibillty. “The job wasn’t local to me at the time,” she says. “It was tough sometines beause I wouldn’t see things until they were installed.”

And when it comes to renting out the home, that has brought its own set of challenges and surprises. “We were 100 percent booked in February,” she recalls, “It’s unique but also simple and people have been drawn to it.” 

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